Pluralsight and USAF: leveraging technology for Digital U
Tech workforce development company Pluralsight offers a way for organisations to upskill their teams to respond to technological changes in the modern workplace. Sam Pena is VP, North America Presales at the company. “We have created an ecosystem to provide technology leaders visibility into their workforce.” He emphasises that this is achieved through three distinct ways, the first being its tech skills platform, which allows leaders to index the skills present in their workforce and adjust their strategies accordingly.
“The second way we enable tech leaders is through our engineering analytics platform,” says Pena. “Our Flow product is intended to help engineering leaders understand how developers are working and to remove bottlenecks. Then, coupling that with the tech skills platform, you can understand whether there is an area of opportunity to enable developers to work more efficiently.” The final piece of the puzzle lies in its comprehensive professional services offering, which assists tech leaders with an implementation strategy for their ecosystems.
The company’s mission to educate individuals with technical skills has only become more vital as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the pace of digital transformation. “As transformation accelerates, one of the most important questions is how do you enable the workforce to leverage new tools? That's where Pluralsight comes in, helping to align our customers with the skills they need.”
Since 2019 the company has been working closely with the United States Air Force as part of its Digital University initiative. “We’ve helped them launch their vision of recoding and retraining the Air Force, which they call Digital University or Digital U,” says Pena. “One of the nice things about Digital U is that because it's leveraging commercial products like Pluralsight, it's providing the Air Force the same type of training and skill development that you’d find at the tech giants.”
The ongoing project involves a first phase of indexing airmen and discovering the different competencies and roles that airmen need to be most effective in future missions, while the second phase will see a wider rollout of Digital U across the Air Force. “Helping the Air Force with their mission to upscale their entire workforce is something that we're really proud of here at Pluralsight. We’ve had close collaboration with the Air Force to make this project successful, with our professional services involved in helping them build out their skills strategies and embrace a culture of continuous learning, assessment and communication.”
As technology redefines and recreates roles in the modern workforce, Pluralsight will continue to work with the Air Force and others to help people best leverage that technology. “One of the new areas of focus in our partnership is in developing product engineers that are focused on human-centric design or full stack and mobile development,” says Pena. “This partnership with Digital U has helped us both learn from each other. It's been great to understand the Air Force’s mission and how we can best align to that, while on the flip side they’ve received an outsider perspective with a commercial partner that’s able to bring in its own expertise.”
Harnessing APIs to unlock and operationalise your data
Data is the fuel that powers modern businesses. It’s widely accepted that unlocking insight from data is key to driving successful digital transformation and competitive advantage. Yet the gap between understanding the importance of data-driven insight and being able to achieve it remains stubbornly wide, as critical information remains locked away in silos. To overcome these challenges, businesses must try a new approach. API-led connectivity offers a reusable, standardised way to integrate data across multiple platforms, systems, and applications. When done right, it can be the fast-track to IT and business teams productivity, innovation, and growth.
A data explosion
The past decade has seen a data explosion. Analyst firm IDC predicted that over 59 zettabytes (ZBs) of data would be “created, captured, copied, and consumed” in the world last year alone. In the next three years it’s predicted to continue growing at a CAGR of 26%, during which time more data will have been created than during the past 30 years. At the top of any CIO or business leader’s wish-list is the ability to extract insight from these vast troves of information in order to make more effective decisions. According to McKinsey, data-driven companies are 1.5 times more likely to report revenue growth of greater than 10%.
Unfortunately, just like much of the population for much of the last 12 months, data is locked down and isolated. MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark report reveals that data silos and existing IT infrastructure are making it difficult for most firms to integrate new technologies and make changes to IT systems and applications. In fact, currently less than third of enterprise applications on average are integrated, so there is still significant room for improvement. Those organisations that are able to connect the dots between their data stand to realise increased customer engagement, business transformation and innovation benefits.
Journey towards API-led integration
Legacy custom code point-to-point integration may have been fine a decade ago when enterprises ran relatively few applications. But today’s businesses need something altogether more agile. Point-to-point can be expensive and complex, which means IT ends up spending too much of its time on maintenance and not enough on innovation.
This is where APIs come in, offering a more seamless and cost-effective way to drive integration through discoverability, self-service, and reuse. Rather than building the same point-to-point integration for use in 10 different projects, which requires each to be maintained individually as unique sets of code, a single API can be developed to be reused across them all. An API-led approach therefore means companies only have to unlock each data set just once to empower business teams across the organisation to use that data in their own projects.
The value of this approach can be extended even further with today’s low-code tools, which support drag-and-drop integrations. This can help to ease the burden on IT teams and empower business users to deliver their own integration projects.
The LendingTree experience
One company that has driven major improvements through reusable APIs is online loans marketplace LendingTree. Originally its 16 different business units were operating with siloed, incomplete data, meaning 360-degree customer insight was impossible—affecting sales and the end-user experience. The firm was not able to capture or analyse call centre data, limiting its ability to improve experiences for its customers.
Using APIs to draw in data from multiple systems and databases in real-time, LendingTree was able to consolidate its customer data on Salesforce to create a single source of truth for cross-departmental teams. This approach empowers service agents by giving them access to individuals’ loan application history from a single console, drastically reducing the time it takes them to consolidate various sources of customer data. As such, its API-led integration approach has allowed LendingTree to free up time and resources to launch new capabilities faster.
The future’s digital
Organisations have been affected in many different ways by the COVID-19 pandemic. But across the board, the desire among business leaders over the coming months will be to emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. Data-driven insight will be vital to this achievement, as businesses push ahead with digital innovation. API-led integration can help them to ensure that data strategies are long-lasting and sustainable, paving the way for long-term success and a brighter digital future.