In our most recent #SalesforceQA, we caught up with Bryan Anderson, Technical Account Manager at OwnBackup.
Bryan offers his advice to other Technical Architects who are looking to stand out from the crowd, discusses how he stays up-to-date on all there is to learn in the ever evolving ecosystem and mentions what he is most excited about seeing from Salesforce in 2021 and beyond.
Salesforce Republic (SR): To kick off, could you talk about what inspired you to pursue a career in the ecosystem?
Bryan Anderson (BA): It was sort of by chance, I had just graduated from college and was looking for a typical programming job. I applied to one company who’s tagline was ‘enterprise cloud consulting’, this was back in 2009 so I didn’t really know what the cloud was per se. In the final interview for the role, the managing partner of the company handed me a ‘Salesforce for Dummies’ book, and that’s how I began my career in the ecosystem.
SR: What are your top tips for others looking to become a Technical Architect?
BA: For a lot of companies, once they have Salesforce their next priority is getting all their other systems to talk to Salesforce in order to utilize their data. What’s really helped me out throughout my career is understanding the larger problem: How do I get Salesforce to not only be the hub of where I go to do all my customer relationship management, but also get that data to go into other systems, so those systems can be more successful as well? To put that into a top tip; become familiar with integration platforms, learning about the different API’s that Salesforce offers, make sure your knowledge is more mile wide inch deep, than inch wide mile deep. You definitely want to understand everything that Salesforce has to offer, and understand where it works best.
One of the best tools that can help you with this is Google. Which leads on to my next top tip: become good at Google-ing. You might not know every Lightning Web Component function for example, but Google will hopefully help you learn about them. Other tools that have been really helpful for me and are things that I recommend you take a look at are Trailhead, Trailhead environments, and also a Developer Edition. I’ve had my same Developer Edition since I started in Salesforce. That’s where I do most of my tinkering and self-learning.
SR: How can those looking to become a Salesforce Technical Architect stand out from the crowd?
BA: In my opinion, in order to stand out from the crowd, it definitely calls for being part of a company, whether it’s a consulting company or doing developer architecture work in-house, that allows you to work with a lot of different systems and platforms. Linking back to my previous answer and how many companies will not only use Salesforce but in some cases 3-4 other systems as well, this will allow you to – when you are applying for a new role – demonstrate your capability not only for the Salesforce platform but also your ability to integrate new systems with Salesforce.
SR: Do you think Salesforce certifications are a good way to continue career development?
BA: This also links back to how Salesforce Technical Architects can stand out from the crowd. I am I bit back and forth on certifications; and that’s not just Salesforce certifications but certifications in general. There have been times in my career where I haven’t necessarily focused on achieving a certification because I’ve been too busy actually getting the real-world experience. On the flip side of that you have people who might have a particular certification but when put in front of a real-world problem, don’t know how to solve it because they only learned the answers for the test. However, for better or worse a lot of employers focus on whether you have certain certifications and what your Trailhead ranking is, and things like that.
I would say that certifications are a great way to get your foot in the door because they show that you have knowledge of Salesforce, but make sure that you can also demonstrate the skills that are being asked as part of the cert – make sure you can back it up.
SR: How has the Salesforce world changed during your time in it?
BA: I really like this question because when I first started out, again, I was coming straight from college where my only experience of programming and computers was writing some math functions and doing some little sprite things on the command line tool. When I was brought into Salesforce, my thought process was, ‘Okay, this is just a CRM tool,’ and when I started running into issues like governor limits and not being able to do a call out after a trigger, and things like that, I became quite frustrated.
I then went for a meeting with a Salesforce AE who really shifted my perception of Salesforce. He highlighted that Salesforce is not just trying to present themselves as a CRM tool but as this office back-end platform. I think from 2009 until now, Salesforce has managed to come a long why in achieving this. Salesforce is becoming more of a platform as a service rather than software as a service. They have expanded their APIs and programming capabilities to the extent that now what they offer is a relational database; I would definitely say the platform is becoming more agnostic than CRM.
SR: With the ever-evolving nature of the ecosystem, how do you stay up to date with all there is to learn?
BA: There are a couple of Salesforce Developer Evangelists that I follow; Philippe Ozil, Mohith Shrivastava.
One of the other platforms that I’m a big part of is the Salesforce StackExchange. Whilst it’s not a tool dedicated to learning development it definitely exposes you to a lot of problems and solutions that you can take away and apply to your own work.
I also think Trailhead is really good, it definitely shows you different parts of the platform that you might have never used. But similar to certifications, I would say after you complete a particular trailhead, try doing it on your own without following the script. Try thinking about it differently, because then you’re able to not only complete the trailhead but also understand how the feature works.
SR: Finally, what are you most excited about seeing from Salesforce in 2021 and beyond?
BA: A trend that I’m seeing at the moment is big enterprise companies don’t want to have co-locations or server farms, they want to outsource this to companies that have a better handle on it. I think Salesforce will definitely start getting into this, they’ve already done a few acquisitions, like Tableau, to build on their offering of a backend office technology rather than just a CRM tool. One day I think we’ll see Salesforce functions with node.JS developers, Ruby applications, and things like that.
As Salesforce continues to move towards this technology agnostic platform, similar to those offered by Google Cloud Machine, Azure and AWS, I think the barrier for getting into the industry will hopefully be a bit lower in order to really bring in a lot of different people.
You can follow Bryan on GitHub here: https://github.com/banderson5144/
If you’re a Salesforce professional and would like to join Bryan in our Q&A series, please get in touch with us today!