The world wants to integrate…or does it?

Hi everyone. My name’s Darin. I just joined WSO2 as the chief marketing officer. I wanted to share a few of my early thoughts about WSO2 and the idea of integration.

First, on a personal level, I am without a doubt, the most excited I’ve been in a long time. Over the past few months, I’ve spent time learning about the company, our customers, and the integration market. It’s clear to me that the magnitude of the opportunity for the overall community is literally awesome. I’m in awe of the potential before me. I can’t help but think of the many, many things that have happened and then come together to afford me the opportunity to be part of it. This is my wonderfully perfect storm happening at the perfect time.

Second, if you don’t already know this, WSO2 is the #1 open source integration vendor. The team of experts here understand the challenge of integration after having been a part of more than 2,000 enterprise integration projects. WSO2 has a vision for what integration will look like in the future, and the team would be happy to share steps you can take now to improve your current state and set yourself up for greater success moving forward. The open source approach means we aim to provide a ton of freely available value through our software, and we only earn the revenue we make through an amazing focus on customer support and service. Our cash flow positive and profitable growth of more than 50% is good evidence for the quality of the work this team delivers.

Third, my mantra of ‘One Story. One Plan. One Team’ seems to resonate with the team and the WSO2 culture. It’s a simple framework for helping distributed and cross-functional teams work better together and to deliver greater value to the ecosystem of partners and the community of users/customers. Tyler (CEO) shared an email about the idea of ‘One WSO2’ right before I joined. It was music to my ears. And just yesterday, Sanjiva (founder and father of WSO2) shared an email with the global team that demonstrated the honesty and transparency for which he is known so well. These are characteristics that are necessary to truly live a culture of being One Team, with a shared purpose, that is bigger than any individual and bigger than the company.

It’s interesting to me (as a new team member) that we’ve had a dialogue going on about values and culture recently. Great discussion! The point was well made that writing down values and attributes of a culture can be an unnecessary action or a forced ‘corporate activity’. Rather than feeling compelled to write them down, values and culture are simply things you live, exhibit through actions, and communicate by example. I believe it’s both. Think about when you were new to your team, your department, your company. If that was too long ago :), think about the last person that joined your group. How easy was it for you/them to integrate into the culture? In order for a new person to integrate into a business culture, at a pace that business today demands, I believe we should give she/he a head start by telling the examples to look for in others, from the senior leadership to the interns. Don’t make people figure out how to integrate into the culture entirely by trial and error. While many cultures (especially in technology companies like WSO2) embrace a “fail fast!”, “break something!”, and “ask forgiveness over permission” mentality, this wonderfully freeing approach is a strange new world for many people. I believe we should all help people adjust quickly and integrate faster, regardless of the environment and circumstances.

When I think about the idea of integration — beyond just the technology of middleware, the ESB, APIs, security, microservices, etc. — I believe it to be a fundamental and foundational idea for all of us. And I think the world wants to integrate more. Sometimes, this desire comes from a feeling of wanting to be part of something bigger. Other times, maybe it stems from the acknowledgment that we often cannot do ‘it’ alone, whatever ‘it’ is.

Whatever the motivations, I do believe the integration of ideas, skills, and systems is a natural part of what the world wants (and needs), even at the evolutionary level. In fact, page one of the book I’m reading currently, Big Potential, by Shawn Achor, provides a great example of this by way of the behaviors of fireflies in the mangrove forest of Southeast Asia. Basically, a male firefly will light up in order to attract the attention of the female. In what is the oldest kind of integration there is, it’s a little like there way of putting on a new shirt and maybe some cologne. Research shows that when huge populations of males light up in unison, the success rate for attracting females goes up approximately 25X. The more the males integrated their effort, the more success they experienced, and the more that entire ‘world’ of little luminaries benefited.

I see other trends that seem to support this idea that the world wants to integrate. And, like any concept that isn’t just accepted as fact, there are counterpoints as well.

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the number of air travelers will increase by approximately 95% by 2036, while experts agree the global population will only increase by about 17%. Face-to-face and in-person experiences help create a faster integration.
  • According to the World Trade Organization, merchandise trade between developing economies has increased from 41% to 52% of their global trade in the last ten years. Commercial integration is no longer just between the biggest nations that have the most to offer.
  • A compilation of research results from WeAreSocial shows 42% of the global population is active on social media — an increase of 13% YoY. That means more than 300M people are integrating their ideas with people they didn’t use to.
  • The same report states ‘Digital Confidence’ is largely high, which means the majority of nations believe new technologies present more opportunity than risk. India ranks near the top with 79% of people welcoming new technologies — that inherently will drive more integration [projects].
  • Deloitte reports that 20% of the acquisition of technology assets as the principal reason behind deals, up from 6 percent in the spring of 2016. 35% of $1B+ corporations intend to pick up the pace on acquisitions, and in parallel, 70% of both corporate and private equity respondents say they plan to sell units or assets in 2018, up from 48% in the spring of 2016.
  • Since 1990, more than 90% of US metro areas have seen a decline in racial stratification, signaling a trend toward a more integrated America. But, then why do we have ongoing tension and debates about segregation in schools and housing?
  • And at the same time, we have active crises in many corners of the globe that have produced a record high number of 68.5M displaced people in 2017 — that’s one every 2 seconds. The majority of these displaced people, looking for a new place in which to integrate, result from conflict and war (people certainly NOT integrating ideas and skills).
  • Finally, according to Gartner, over the next ten years, we will gravitate toward work and organizations that accelerate “We Working” — a work philosophy that depends on ensembles of autonomous and high-performing teams fulfilling crucial outcomes. Work will revolve around portfolios of diversified roles and skills performed in teams that dynamically resize and reform.

It boils down to…it’s complicated. But, integration and disintegration is happening at an amazing scale. Global integration — technically, commercially, and politically — is very complicated. It makes even the most complicated integration architecture and cloud-native development projects in the support of massive digital transformation seem relatively easy. For me, complications in the face of an undeniable trend spells opportunity. Opportunity abounds because of the idea of integration.

So, back to my first point. I’m excited to be involved in this idea of integration and its many angles. I’m excited to be part of the open source software approach to integration because it is an amazing form of integration at work. And, I’m excited to be at WSO2 because of the way we work on solving the problems associated with integration — as ONE WSO2.

It’s great to be here.