Life on the Leading Edge: My Experience Learning Mendix
Since starting at Mendix in January, I have struggled to satisfactorily describe what I do. A typical conversation about work might sound like this:
Me: “I develop web apps at a company called Mendix.”
Friend: “Nice. In which language?”
Me: “None. It’s all in our platform, also called Mendix.”
Friend: “Like Salesforce?”
Me: “Kind of.”
Friend: “What kind of apps do you build?”
Me: “Really, any. It depends.”
Friend: “Ok… Well, another beer?”
Most jobs – app developers of coded persuasions included – benefit from details encoded in the common cultural psyche. A farmer, for example, is known to turn seeds into edible plants by manipulating earth and water over time. A doctor diagnoses, prescribes, and/or repairs human bodies, sometimes in teams. The aforementioned app developer builds computer logic in a language(s) of choice for a specified purpose. The third description sounds a lot like what I do, and most of the time, it’s a good enough answer.
What, though, is the real answer? What does “Senior Consultant at Mendix” really mean?
For one – it means I develop web apps that are the end product of a corrected perspective on technology. This is none other than the Digital Innovation featured in our motto, the process whereby organizations reassemble with technology as a given, rather than an addendum. The apps I’ve built are the realization of this paradigm shift.
In addition, I work with app building technologies in very advanced form. It’s hard to overstate the benefits of integrated database, business logic, user interface, deployment, and security in the Mendix Business Modeler. Just think about how radio and portable recordings changed driving, or what happened once smartphones brought together calling, texting, GPS, Internet, music, camera, accelerometer, etc. Boiled down to one idea, these innovations reduced the cost of time in using their component technologies, and Mendix does the same for business technology. If there is a concept for the app, the first iteration is already within reach without the need for intermediate technical conversations about individual components of the app.
The most important aspect of learning Mendix, and also the most esoteric, is the experience of being on the leading edge of a large, important idea. It suggests an attitude that goes beyond technical skills or cultural fit: have the optimism of an evangelist; feel the twinge of terror at the possibility that you got on the wrong train; and in between these extremes, work to write the history of digital innovation, one microflow at a time.
If “I drive digital innovation at Mendix” sounds like a kitschy job description, it’s because the universe is a vast entropy machine that generally ignores the aspirations of earthlings. The past six months and foreseeable future seem to be ahead of those odds.