MuleSoft Architects Need to Anticipate the Needs of Citizen Integrators
MuleSoft Architects have a lot of responsibility for enterprises that have invested in MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform to build API-led solutions. Architects ensure the platform is correctly configured to meet performance and availability requirements. Architects also design and implement governance policies, addressing security and access for their IT and business customers. These responsibilities make MuleSoft Architects essential to the overall success of an enterprise’s integration strategy and projects.
And the responsibilities of MuleSoft Architects continue to grow, especially in the area of IT and business collaboration.
Earlier this year, MuleSoft released the findings of their 2021 research into the changing landscape and relationship of an organization’s IT and business units. This research was expansive, with over 2400 IT and business decision-makers participating. One of the key takeaways of the 2021 MuleSoft IT and Business Alignment Barometer is “...With the acceleration of digital transformation over the last 12 months, most (88%) respondents believe that IT has become even more important to driving business outcomes.”
The results of this heightened importance are clear: good things happen when IT and business units are engaged in mutually beneficial collaborations. Those things include increased operational efficiency, improved customer experiences, faster innovation, and increased revenue.
With that type of impact, it’s not surprising that the Barometer states, “Integration is on the business agenda – the vast majority of organizations (91%) believe integration can accelerate the speed and efficiency of the business and IT”. The acknowledgment that integration plays a vital role in speed and efficiency frustrates leaders as the report also suggests that integration issues continue to hinder business success.
Role of the Architect
The role of the architect in this alignment evolution is significant as many points of the Barometer communicate:
- Low and no-code solutions, provisioned by IT for business use, increase responsiveness and innovation.
- Proactively removing friction associated with security, governance, and access is a critical element of success.
- Reusable building blocks enabled by API-led integration are required to achieve autonomous business agility.
These points impact the MuleSoft Architect’s role in an enterprise. In addition to their traditional responsibilities, the MuleSoft Architect must now enable a growing class of business integration consumers.
Is this the rise of the Citizen Developer?
What is a citizen developer/integrator?
Gartner defines the citizen integrator/developer this way: A citizen developer is an employee who creates application capabilities for consumption by themselves or others, using tools that are not actively forbidden by IT or business units. A citizen developer is a persona, not a title or targeted role. They report to a business unit or function other than IT. While the MuleSoft Barometer doesn’t use the term “citizen developer” or “citizen integrator,” the role of the business user described in the MuleSoft Barometer is similar to Gartner’s definition of a citizen developer..
Note: The definitions of “Citizen Integrator” and “Citizen Developer” are both synonymous and divergent. For this article, they are interchangeable.
All citizen developers are business technologists. However, all business technologists are not necessarily citizen developers.
This persona presents a unique challenge for architects who must balance existing integration needs from the business and the IT teams they support and the needs of this new class of integration consumers.
Citizen integrators are not your typical integration customer. They may be
- Self-directed and work autonomously,
- Non-technical, with no substantial formal IT or data integration experience,
- Very trial and error oriented - leaning towards discovery and then expansion.
To further advance the alignment and provide a platform for the autonomous business integration consumer (aka citizen integrator or developers), MuleSoft has released and expanded its MuleSoft Composer product.
According to Kamilla Khaydarov, Director of Product Marketing at MuleSoft, MuleSoft Composer enables business users to build integrations so the IT team can focus on delivering the more technical and innovative projects in Anypoint Platform. Anypoint Platform and Composer — together — help boost IT and business team collaboration.
As we learn more about MuleSoft Composer in the coming weeks and months, we will discuss the features of Composer that impact MuleSoft architects the most. Some of these capabilities include granting access to business developers, API design, automated approvals, or building guardrails (the boundaries that keep business integration consumers out of trouble and help architects sleep better). Our observations and guidance will be posted to the Big Compass blog.