Announcing Strike Connect

Why are robots so lazy? They’re supposed to be coming for our jobs, but we’re as busy as ever building Salesforce apps — especially apps that act as a client to an outside service.

Johnny Five, lazy robot

Since Johnny and the rest of his ro-bros can’t get off their collective duffs, we have no choice but to build tools to speed up our work.

Here’s What Happened

We’ve been building Salesforce apps for more than 10 years; that’s all we do. And since Salesforce isn’t standing still, we continually adapt and build on top of new platform capabilities as soon as we can. Last year, for example, we launched Lightning Strike, which serves as a Bootstrap for Salesforce’s new Lightning UI.

That release got a positive reaction from both the Salesforce development community and folks inside Salesforce (ahem), ultimately leading to Salesforce Ventures investing in Appiphony. We’re grateful for that vote of confidence and excited to fuel a larger vision for Strike — one that extends beyond the UI into the data processing needs of complex Salesforce applications. We call it Strike Connect.

Time to solve some harder problems.

What We’re Building and Why

When we shifted focus to the data management layer, we employed a tactic used in Strike and reviewed the patterns we’ve seen over the years. One theme was especially clear: whenever you have interesting data about a customer, you should get it into Salesforce and enrich your 360-degree view. Sales, service and every other team gets more effective the more they know. When all your teams are aligned, you can truly become a customer company.

All structured operational data residing in Salesforce

At first blush, the technical challenge appears straightforward: move some key data into Salesforce. And you might think Salesforce’s robust APIs make this an open-and-shut case — just write some code that pushes data to those endpoints — but we’ve learned firsthand it’s not so simple.

Many companies are following in the footsteps of Amazon, Salesforce, Adobe and others by using an API First approach to build their apps. Simply put, if you maintain the discipline to make your API the first interface to your app’s functionality, you’re far better off when customers and partners want to integrate with your stack, greatly reducing the chance they switch to a competitor.

This idea has advanced to the point of having an ecosystem of technologies and developer tools around it, including:

In this climate, more and more Salesforce apps need to act as a smart “client” connecting to an external “server” (probably in the cloud) with an existing API. Many teams that plan to commercialize such apps want to enforce a separation of concerns in which any Salesforce-side issues are handled by the Salesforce client app, keeping their API “clean” and avoiding Salesforce-specific code in their stack.

Short story long, we’ve seen these patterns enough times that we’re extracting the reusable elements into a developer framework and scaffolding generator. Salesforce is applying a similar approach to solve an adjacent problem around external transactions (instead of data) by leveraging JSON Schema. We’ll be using both our tools and theirs to kickstart development of the apps we build, especially when the core value proposition involves enriching customer records with insightful data.

The Bigger Picture

We see a future where Strike Connect works in conjunction with Salesforce’s External Services and Data Integration efforts to launch data-centric AppExchange apps an order of magnitude faster than we can today. Even better, these apps will include capabilities just beyond the edge of what’s feasible now, unlocking significant economic value for customers and partners.

We’re also excited about the potential of combining these App Cloud innovations with the richer extensibility available in Einstein Analytics. (Distributing insightful dashboards and visualizations is easier than ever.) We want customers to use information from anywhere and everywhere to create operational reports and smart workflows in App Cloud, then zoom out and spot trends in reams of data using Einstein Analytics.

Meanwhile, Johnny and his buddies are still working on this:

Want to know more? Get in touch and we’ll have more to share when Strike Connect is ready for beta. Thanks for your interest!