Learning to code with Salesforce
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Friday, March 23, 2018|
The Salesforce Trailhead platform provides a direct pathway to skills needed to become a developer.
While accessible technology is a must to elevate developers, developers also need better educational resources. Learning needs to be bite-sized, continuous, flexible and fun. That is why Salesforce says they launched Trailhead, the free online learning platform, that takes learners on guided, hands-on journeys to learn today’s in-demand skills. The pace of innovation has never moved faster and Trailhead empowers devs to keep pace with that innovation by constantly creating new relevant content for our learners.
We spoke with Sarah Franklin, the EVP and GM of Trailhead and Developer Relations at Salesforce, to learn more about their platform.
ADM: You lead developer relations at Salesforce, what is your team doing to elevate developers' skills?
Franklin: At Salesforce, we are on a mission to empower anyone, no matter their education level, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and background to learn the skills needed to become a developer in today’s digital world. This mission hinges on one major thing: accessibility. By providing everyone with accessible technology and accessible education, we are not only succeeding in elevating current developers’ skills, but also creating an equal pathway for everyone to become a developer.
The Salesforce Lightning Platform makes app development fast and easy, empowering anyone to build apps from no-code to code. Building on an accessible platform makes developers more productive, happier, and frees up their time to focus on innovation.
With the Salesforce Platform and Trailhead, anyone can be a developer.
ADM: What factors led to the “low-code age” and why are we seeing the need for developers rise now?
Franklin: There’s a $200 billion market for enterprise applications with not nearly enough developers to build them. And the developers currently employed are often overqualified to build the thousands of ad-hoc, functional applications today’s business users need.
Low-code platforms have emerged as the key to bridging that gap, empowering a new breed of coder - citizen developers and Trailblazers - to build for themselves the applications they need to drive business impact. The idea behind the low-code revolution is simple, but revolutionary idea: anyone can build an app, and they don’t need coding knowledge to do it...freeing up formally trained developers to focus on deeper innovations.
ADM: How can businesses empower developers to help them keep pace with today’s digital-first customers?
Franklin: Today’s customer expectations have changed. Business users are looking for the same personalized experiences they have grown accustomed to in their day-to-day lives. In order to meet today’s digital-first customer expectations, companies need to empower developers to build apps their customers love. Businesses must provide their developers with a low-code innovative platform that makes it easy to incorporate the latest technologies, like AI, into their apps. When given the right tools to build with, developers can drive customer success at an unprecedented rate.
ADM: What skills do developers of the future need to learn beyond code?
Franklin: Today’s developers are no longer just expected to code and build apps. Gone are the days where app success is measured only by page views, form completes and downloads. No matter how awesome an app is, it doesn’t matter if nobody uses it. Developers must drive adoption and loyalty with their applications, and this requires delivering a connected and engaging experience and learn digital skills and soft skills. From building compelling presentations and drafting company brand messaging to knowing the basics of digital marketing and sales strategy, future developers should have an array of soft and digital skills at their fingertips.
ADM: How can we future-proof the skills that developers know now?
Franklin: There’s a growing gap between the skills future developers are learning in school and what they need to know to succeed in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Traditional education is struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation. In order to thrive in today’s workforce and prepare for the future of work, employees to need to continuously learn to stay relevant and keep their skill sets modern.
The solution? Accessibility to online learning. In the programming world, developers must constantly learn new languages in order to keep up with the pace of technological advancement, yet most have very little time to seek out traditional education opportunities in addition to their rigorous work schedule. With online learning platforms learners are able to move at their own pace and seek out the skills that make the most sense for them and their role at that time.
ADM: How can we enable a more inclusive and diverse developer workforce?
Franklin: We are currently experiencing a massive developer drought. In fact, research shows that there will be a 500,000 developer gap by 2024 in the U.S alone. The problems causing this massive drought are two-fold. First, we have a massive pool of untapped talent of women and of minorities. According to the Bureau of Labor, women make up only 18% of the tech workforce. While Hispanics and African Americans make up 2% and 1% respectively. We must close the equality gap. Second, the cost of education has risen 200 percent in just the past 20 years alone. In order to enable and attract a more diverse and inclusive developer workforce we must make education, and access to job opportunities, both affordable and accessible to all.
When my team and I helped to spark the Trailblazer movement by launching Trailhead, we were focused on creating just that - a more inclusive and diverse developer workforce. No matter someone’s race, gender, age, academic background, socioeconomic situation, there must be a pathway into successful technology careers. By providing free and accessible education, the barrier to entry into the technology workforce is lowered. With Trailhead, we are literally seeing the face of the industry change. The more enterprises begin to embrace this online learning method, the more inclusive and diverse the future workplace will be.
ADM: How does Salesforce enable the fastest growing enterprise developer community?
Franklin: With more than 5 million developers, Salesforce is the fastest growing enterprise developer community. However, the success of these metrics rely in large part on the continued support and innovation of our developers.
At the heart of this developer community growth is access to education and the technology developers need to innovate in their current roles. Trailhead enables developers from all backgrounds to keep pace with constantly evolving technology and skill up for the future of work.
ADM: What role do you see the community playing on the success of today's developers?
Franklin: Our community is amazing! As the Salesforce developer community continues to grow, we will see more innovation both at the app and the platform level. But the support and mentorship that our community offers one another is unparalleled! One example that I love is Salesforce Saturdays. Salesforce Saturdays was a movement sparked by one of our community members, Stephanie Herrera, where she started meeting with other community members and users on Saturday over coffee to hone their skills and share best practices. Today Salesforce Saturdays happen every Saturday, all over the world!
About Sarah Franklin
In her role, Sarah leads Salesforce’s developer and education initiatives focusing on democratizing both technology and education. She is passionate about empowering everyone to pursue successful careers in technology and bridging the skills and equality gaps by making technology and learning accessible to all.
Throughout her career, Sarah was often one of the only women on her team. Witnessing the incredible inequality of women and minorities in STEM careers first-hand inspired her to help spark the Trailblazer movement by launching Trailhead - Salesforce’s gamified online learning platform. With Trailhead she has seen people transform their careers from hairdressers, salsa dance instructors and factory workers to successful technologists. She is proud to work with the best and the brightest to change the face of the technology industry.
Sarah’s career has spanned large enterprises to scrappy startups. She specializes in bringing emerging technologies and trends to market and has a unique blend of technical expertise and business acumen. She is proud to have worked at Salesforce for 10 years now.
Sarah holds a dual degree of Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.