A big area I'm researching is around visualization. Software developers like to whiteboard and draw, but there's a big disconnect from moving from the whiteboard to a mental model into code. It would be great if we could make that a more immediate thing, where we could craft something visually and then that actually generates the digital piece—whether in code or whatever it is. Then you have this more immediate back and forth where you can change the code by changing the visualization.
That sounds like an advancement of the old software modeling play?
I think it's a much healthier model for everybody, rather than trying to figure out how we can make an individual developer 100 times more productive. For instance, there are software developers now that have agents like they are rock stars. So instead of trying to get more of them, we can broaden the scope of jobs so we can get everybody involved. Everyone's scared about losing their jobs to computers, but we need to think about how we can create more computer jobs for people.
In the software community there is more affinity between developers, or especially architects and artists. I meet illustrators or musicians that can adapt to the software world. That creative thread is just as important as the technical thread. The problem is it's table stakes right now to have that whole technical, mathematical mind, whereas it would be great to just level the playing field.
Who do you view as competition?
On the software product side, we have competitors. But the type of stuff we do is similar to what consulting companies do. But we collaborate with those companies. We'll work with big Sis where they might be starting up an API management practice. We're a small group. There are only four of us and there are some alumni and community.
Our goal as the API Academy is to help educate the industry and help share. And anyone who's in the same domain is helping our cause. What makes us different as part of CA is that our mission is mutually exclusive from the software mission. Some of our software competitors might do what we do by talking about APIs and the digital economy, except it's much more tightly coupled to their product business. What we say is here are the things you need to do regardless of what technology you use. We try and do something that's a little bit more consultative.
So you do have consulting projects that you work on?
We have engagements where we work with companies and do these boot camps where we come in and get a bunch of stakeholders in a company—software architects, business people, developers and operations people—together and go through all the areas that are important when you're employing APIs or microservices. And we do that in a condensed session.
We try to use the community concept. We know we can't scale to meet everybody's needs, but we try to partner and endorse and connect the dots with companies we know are really good.
How big of a deal is it to get microservices adopted into the culture of an organization?
It's both really important and really hard. I think that culture change is really hard to do. I've seen it time and again where people can't deal with culture change. We try to bring the stakeholders together so they can break down barriers. Trying to do big-bang culture change never works.