Architect Courses for Admins with Amit Malik

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Amit Malik, Senior Manager, Global Architect Program. Join us as we chat about the architect courses on Trailhead and why all admins should think about taking them.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Amit Malik.

Why admins are already architecting

We wanted to bring Amit on the pod because he’s the only Architect Trailhead Instructor, and we wanted to find out more about what’s on offer and if they make sense for admins. One thing he loves about his current role is that he can see “how administrators, developers, and architects are having a similar thought process in terms of how to see Salesforce from different perspectives and how we can add value by sharing the perspective of different personas with each other and expand our mind horizons,” he says.

One message he has for admins out there is that a lot of the work you’re doing is already giving you the context to upskill into an architect role, or otherwise expand your knowledge of the Salesforce ecosystem as a whole. If you already know Marketing Cloud, it’s a lot easier to learn Experience Cloud, for example. As Amit puts it, you can look to grow both horizontally (between products) and vertically (in terms of depth of knowledge on a platform) as you advance your career.

The three-step learning process

When you’re looking to learn something new, Amit encourages you to think about it as a three-step process:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Experience
  3. Exposure

Knowledge comes when you read about something, watch a video about it, hear about it at a conference, etc. Experience is applying that knowledge to specific situations in a real-world setting. Finally, exposure comes from conversations with experienced people who may have gained a completely different perspective than they had when they started. It’s that three-dimensional view you get from understanding how something works in conjunction with everything else.

Architect courses on Trailhead

Amit wants you to know that architect courses aren’t just for architects. “We all are Salesforce professionals,” he says, “Administrators, developers, solution architects, technical architects: we all are Salesforce professionals.” If you’re discussing integration in your meetings, or large data volume, or single sign-on—anything that involves multiple Salesforce products talking together—you have a lot to gain sitting in on an architect course or two.

The 101 course is there to provide a broad, big-picture overview of what being an architect is all about. As Amit puts it, the goal is to point you in the direction of what there is to learn about so you can fill in the details in whatever way is most helpful to you. “The challenge of the learner is that they don’t know where to start,” he says, “the moment that they know where to start they can keep on learning faster than I can teach them.” From there, the next level courses are more specialized, after you’ve completed some basic architect certifications. “Join these courses to discover yourself so you can make the right decision for your career,” he says, “if you don’t know we will help you see the path because we’ve already walked through these journeys.”

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Full show transcript

Mike: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week we’re talking with Amit Malik, who is the senior manager, Global Architect Program. Now, wow, Amit has over 20 years experience in instruction and let me tell you, he really has a true passion for everyone who is a Salesforce professional. You’re going to hear that on this episode.
But before we jump into that, did you know that The Essential Habits for Admin Success is available on Trailhead? That webinar/Trailhead Live/presentation that everybody loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. So, I’ve included the link in the show notes so that after the episode, you can head on over to Trailhead and get one of those essential habits Trailhead badge.
So with that, let’s get Amit on the podcast. So Amit, welcome to the podcast.

Amit Malik: Thank you, Mike. Thank you for bringing me in.

Mike: Yeah, well, I’m excited. We’re on the road to Dreamforce as we’re all marching towards that September date. As I look at the people that attend Dreamforce and the people in our ecosystem, our trailblazer ecosystem, I see a lot of admins, I see a lot of developers and you know what? I see a lot of architects and that’s what we’re going to talk about today because Amit, you are the only architect Trailhead instructor. I thought it’d be really cool to get you on the podcast, hear a little bit about your story, your journey to Salesforce. And then some of the classes and some of the architect instructor things that are coming out for people in our admin or developer community are interested in pursuing additional careers or sometimes really just additional talent. So, I think it’s going to be a fun discussion. But let’s start with you. You’re the star of the show. Give me a brief, give everybody that’s listening a brief overview of how you got to Salesforce and what makes you so passionate for architects?

Amit Malik: Wonderful, wonderful. So, Mike, my journey started long back. I would say in 2010, I remember in May I used to be a Microsoft instructor for a decade, my first decade of my career. I used to teach a .net, she shop, silver light, WPF, SharePoint. And in my organization at that time, I was offered to start a new opportunity to work with Salesforce. And I was not aware about how cool the technology is at that time. I just took the opportunity I was sent for a training program in Singapore. I was excited. I went there. I learned about the administration course in may, 2010. And then the journey started. I worked for the partner of Salesforce for around two and a half years, and I delivered a lot of training courses in Salesforce world. At that time in 2013, I got the opportunity to join as an employee with Salesforce. And since then, I’m just teaching and I’m enjoy meeting audience across the globe now. And I’m fortunate, I would say, because in this current role, which I’m doing, I get an opportunity to meet different people across the globe. And I’m able to appreciate how administrators, developers, and architects are having a similar thought process in terms of how do they see Salesforce from a different perspectives and how we can add value by sharing the perspective of different personas to each other and expand their mind horizons. So, that’s my journey so far.

Mike: Wow, kudos to you. You taught SharePoint. Oh, that had to have been fun, but let’s dive into that because as I’m thinking this through, as an admin, I kind of look at Salesforce in a certain way. And the funny anecdote was, I remember one of my first Dreamforces back in, I believe it was 2014 as an employee, Josh Burke pulled me aside. He was helping build a custom app with a customer and didn’t know how to change the logo in the app and I was like, of all the people, come on. How do you not know this? And it’s because different personas, look at the platform and view it in a different way. And, and you brought, you brought up that architect, what similarities or, or have you seen between admins and architects in terms of the way that we view the platform?

Amit Malik: Very good point. So, I’ll give you a very, very good example. As a administrator, first of all, is a very difficult role, which people need to appreciate yourself. First of all, thank you to all the admins who are listening to this podcast, because you are a responsible person to manage a big org implementation of Salesforce and deal with the stakeholders. And in your journey, you must have seen that you are spending your time in working with data, working with large data volumes, working with reporting, working with analytics, working with flows, working with formulas, engaging with [inaudible] developers, talking to lightning web competent developers, talking to DevOps team. And you will realize that somewhere you’re also dealing with the external vendors and talking about connected apps, discussing about managed packages, chain sets, gear set. There’s so many vocabulary you deal with, and you don’t know yourself that you are anyhow developing a unique skillset of an architect in your mind.
It’s just like you are not named as an architect, but you are doing the duties of that. And which is what I want to help people who are been doing administration for long years, say five years, seven years and 10 years. At this time it’s very good for you to start looking at one next level to your mind that, okay, as an administrator, I’ve acquired so many skills, can I augment the skills with say, multi-cloud thinking? If I’m already specialized in Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, can I bring, say, Experience Cloud to that thought process? Or can I bring B2B commerce to that thought process or CPQ to that thought process or Marketing Cloud to that thought process means try to expand your mind horizontally and then develop your mind vertically in the areas which excites you. That’s very beautiful, I would say horizontal increase and vertical increase of your mind, which I have been following for myself in my journey of learning about Salesforce, because I always enjoy speaking about the word that what is Salesforce and the definition of Salesforce is changing every two years. And I enjoy speaking about that to my audience, is that in present world, Salesforce is not just a CRM, it is much more, and that much more needs to be appreciated.

Mike: Yeah, it’s really interesting thinking horizontally, thinking vertically, diving in. What are some things that, I will say this, when I was an admin, sometimes I felt that I was being held back by the company, right? You mentioned, Experience Cloud, oh man, Experience Cloud’s got some cool stuff. And you come back from Dreamforce or World Tour and you’re like, we got to do some experience cloud stuff. What are some things that you’ve seen architects or maybe you’ve done in your own world to help push companies to look at, even if the admin wants to expand their mind horizontally, sometimes the company doesn’t want to expand their footprint in Salesforce horizontally.

Amit Malik: Very good. Let me help you with this. There are two things, first of all, for a learner, I would say three things. First thing is knowledge. Second thing is experience. And third thing is exposure. Let’s try to understand these three words. Knowledge comes when you watch YouTube, listen to podcast, read the release notes, attend conferences and all. So, you are gaining knowledge from multiple learning sources and in today’s world, knowledge is available at every channel. You can hook onto any source that you like and you can gain knowledge. But the challenge which comes to the human is that in the real world, when you are working on the project, the customer is not excited about giving you experience to all the implementations of Salesforce, what offering is offering. So, now your experience will be less than the knowledge, which is true. Your experience will never be, or should never be more than knowledge because knowledge should always be more than your experience because you should be keep on hunting for new.
Like I tell my audience, always spend 5% of your mind or time learning about something of the future. Because if you’re not spending 5% of your time for the future learning, you will be stagnant in your mind. And with this philosophy of spending 5% of time, I always look forward. What is the next big thing? Who knows that robotic process automation, RPA becomes big in next three years. So, if I don’t know about the next big words, I will not be able to move ahead. So, that’s my thought process of knowledge, experience, and exposure.
Exposure is very important. The third segment that you need to talk to people, because sometimes we have our own understanding of the concept, but when you deal with the experienced people, they speak about the same concept in a different perspective. And that perspective opens up the thought process in your mind, and you start seeing the same topic with different dimensions. I call it a three dimensional view for the same topic, like a word connected app, like the word [inaudible]. These may sound simple initially. But as you start learning about connected app or [inaudible] you start going deeper into these topics as you engage with the right stakeholders.

Mike: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Amit, when you answer these questions, I can feel the passion in your voice. What brought you around to being an instructor and teaching people for so many years.

Amit Malik: So, first of all, I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years now. It’s not small years. It’s a commitment to life. I would say when I joined Salesforce in 2013, at that time, I took a commitment to myself that I will be a lifelong learner and lifelong instructor. And I was looking for opportunity where I can use my skill to give back because I learned very quickly in my management learning of mass flows, need of hierarchy that the highest form of learning is when you start giving back. And I’ve been on that journey of giving back. I always found the need that everybody wants to learn new, but nobody has time to learn new. So, I wanted to be that person who can learn on behalf of many others in the world. I want to read, I want to watch, I want to listen. I want to do, and then aggregate that, simplify it and offer as the simplified instruction to my audience. That was the motivation to me that I believe that demand of personalized learning experiences will be more deeper as the content is becoming huge now. And I’m betting on this as, as an instructor.

Mike: Yeah, I look back at the time that I took the admin courses, 201, I can’t remember the numbers.

Amit Malik: Yeah, 201.

Mike: The numbers have changed anyway.

Amit Malik: The same name is 201 now. Yeah.

Mike: Is it? Okay. And I’m assuming we’re back to in person classes, it was so great to always hear other people in the class, ask the instructor questions. You’re like, oh, use Salesforce for that. Because it can feel a little bit like you’re in your own bubble and you’re like, well, nobody has these problems and you’re like, yes, they do.

Amit Malik: Very true. I would like to add one point here, Mike, in my audience when I meet, what I learned that people have learned a lot through the learning channels. But when they come and meet us in our architect classes, they get the confirmation on their understanding that what they have learned on their own, they have got it. And when we give the extra 10%, extra 20%, what they’re missing, that completes their thought process, which is what I feel is valuable. People don’t want to learn a hundred percent from us. They can learn 80%, 90% also on their own, but we give that extra 10% or 20% and give them conviction and help them move ahead in their mind. Because the first challenge is the changing in the mind, the movement you decide, you want to change in your mind, the things will start falling into place.

Mike: Oh, I completely agree. You know, you mentioned the courses a lot. I want, I want to dive into those a bit, but I want do that by asking you this question, very leading, who attends these, who comes? Is it all just architects? If I come as an admin, am I going to be the only admin there?

Amit Malik: No, no, no. That’s what I would say. First of all, we all are Salesforce professionals, administrators, developers, solution, architects, technical architects. We all are Salesforce professionals. Whenever you feel that you are getting into the interactions in your meetings about integration, you’re talking about CRM with ERP integration. You are talking about seeing the big enterprise architecture. You are dealing with problems like large data volumes, master data management. You’re talking about something on identity, single sign on. You want to understand these words much more in depth. You want to appreciate the big picture, that how do multiple products of Salesforce talk together and create a coercive unified solution. So architect gives you the architect courses gives you that helicopter view of the Salesforce ecosystem so that you can understand the big picture. And then you keep on doing what you are doing. So, in our courses, I’ve met people who are at the senior executive level who want to understand Salesforce ecosystem at very high level.
I also meet non-Salesforce architects who are coming from Google or who are coming from AWS or other big organizations who want to gain perspective of how the Salesforce ecosystem look like. And they can map to their personal world of Microsoft or Oracle or Google, whichever world they’re focusing on. If you see the big world, the world is captured by big technology vendors. So, if we are part of Salesforce ecosystem, somebody is part of AWS ecosystem. Somebody else is part of Microsoft ecosystem. And the point to appreciate is that we need to understand that we are part of very big ecosystem and we have to keep on moving in our ecosystem. And that is what we give in that these kind of architect courses that we give you a broad prospective, as I was talking about a horizontal expanding of your mind. And then you keep on expanding vertically because you know the big part now. It’s just like, when you go to San Francisco, if I tell you, visit Golden Gate telling you that much is enough to go further and you can have your own excursion on Golden Gate.

Mike: Yeah, which I’ve done actually. And my mom’s done. I put her on one of those buses that you ride on the top with, and she almost lost her hat. Almost flew off the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a story she tells all her friends.

Amit Malik: Big bus tours, yep.

Mike: Yeah. I will tell you, those bus tours are money all day long. They look silly but I’ve done them in London, I did it in San Francisco. And now forever I’m going to associate the Big Bus Tour with being an architect, because you’re up there and you get a good view of the city. You get how everything’s laid out. Makes sense to me. I don’t know.

Amit Malik: So, this reminds me one more story, student asked me, why do you teach so many topics in such a fast time? I said, I’m just like a tour guide. My job is to show you the attractions so that later you can read upon them on your own. So, as an instructor at the architect level, we just touch upon many attractions of Salesforce ecosystem so that people get to see, get to know them and then they can learn about them in detail at their own leisure time.

Mike: So, tell me briefly about the three courses. I know there’s three. There’s architect, 101 and then it jumps to 901 and 902. Help me understand those.

Amit Malik: Let me start 101. The first course for the foundation level, which I recommend for everybody who wants to get the big picture about Salesforce ecosystem is ARCH 101. So, this course is about designing and building integration solutions. So, in this course, we talk about integration. What is integration? What are the different capabilities offered by Salesforce platform? Let’s say we have soap API. We have rest API. We have bulk API. We have streaming API. We have platform events, change data capture, outbound messages. There’s so many options for a beginner. It is overwhelming. So we talk about each of the topics step by step in slow motion, help them appreciate what they are when to use them, which are very relevant, which are not so relevant. And we talk about these capabilities and then we say, okay, let’s apply them to the design patterns.
We talk about the different integration patterns, like request and reply, fire and forget, remote call in. So, we talk about these patterns. We talk about these capabilities and then we also tell them what kind of questions you are expected to talk to your customer to start these conversations. The challenge with the learner is that they don’t know where to start. The moment they know where to start. They can just keep on running faster than I can also run. That’s what I love about my audience. So, we give that job. We do the job of giving that starting point and give them a big picture in this ARCH 101 course. And we’ll also share the links of these courses in our podcast for the help of the audience.

Mike: Yeah. They’re down. They’ll be down in the show notes, yeah.

Amit Malik: And then we have ARCH 901 course, in which we are focusing at the application architect level. If you already have say, data architect certification, you have sharing and visibility architect certification, you have platform developer one, app builder. So, you are an application architect. So, if you want to give a big picture of application architect level, we talk about data architect and sharing and visibility architect. So, we talk about data modeling, large data volumes, master data management. We talk about security model in depth like data security, record security, object, level security sharing rules, all cohesively at the architect level behind the scenes will go very deep about the security architecture and data architecture. So, 901 course gives you that foundation, which in a way, application architect is a foundation or prerequisite for a solution architect certifications. So, if somebody is at the admin level and he’s planning to become an application architect and he becomes application architect, then he can become a B2B solution architect or he can become a B2C solution architect.
If he plans to go to the part of technical architect, then we have a course for system architect track, which is ARCH 902. In ARCH 902, we focus on two domains. We talk about identity and we talk about integration at high level. So if you see, we are trying to give different parts to the people. Everybody may not, or do not want to become a technical architect. Everybody may not, or do not want to become a solution architect. Everybody may not want to become a commerce architect. I always inspire people to discover yourself, join these courses, to discover yourself so that you can take the right decision for your career. If you do not know, we will help you see the path because we already walked through those journeys. And that’s one of our goal is for these courses.

Mike: Yeah, I would agree. Looking back at my time, when I was an admin, the best thing that I did was work towards getting my consultant certification. And one of the developer, at the time it was the intro developer certification. And it was not that I was pursuing… Actually the irony as I did end up being a consultant for a few months, but not that I was pursuing being a consultant, but it gave me that additional mindset to be… I had more tools available to me and that’s what I hear in a lot of your answers. The ARCH 101 gives me more tools as an admin more tools as a developer to build a well architected system.

Amit Malik: Very true, very true because what people will learn that as they’re sitting in the meetings, the new words are being talked about. And if those words are not understood, we will start skipping those words. That’s how human brain works. So, what we do is we try to talk about those top 10, 15, 20, 30 words, which an architect should begin to learn. Second skill is how do you draw diagrams? We give a skill of diagramming techniques. We talk about the diagramming framework. So, these are the new skills which I’ve seen that every architect needs to develop. It’s not about administrator or developer, every human who is in ideal world should be able to speak visually because visual speaking is very powerful tool for communication and which is what we are encouraging in our classes.

Mike: Yeah, it’s also a great way to collaborate with other admins, developers, architects. I think back to, do you remember schema builder?

Amit Malik: Yeah. Very true.

Mike: It was such a great way to see your org and be like, wow, I built a lot.

Amit Malik: Very true. Very true. And that’s very helpful.

Mike: Yeah. As an aside, you have ARCH 101 and then you jump to 901. So, are there going to be eight other levels in between?

Amit Malik: No, actually we just wanted to maintain our sequence. So that 101 is a foundation course for everybody, as you said, is it only for architect? I said, no, it’s for everybody. The idea of giving 101 is it’s an entry to the architect mindset, that how do architect begin to think differently? And in my classes, when I meet administrators, I teach them about concepts like integration. I teach them about what is a connected app, what is [inaudible]. So, they understand the funder foundation of architectural thinking, which is what they enjoy.

Mike: Yeah, I just wondered. Sometimes people look at the numbering and it’s like, yeah, okay. As we wrap things up, I always love to know. You’re so passionate about teaching and I can hear that. And you’ve been doing it for 20 years, which is amazing. You guys, sometimes I look back and answer questions and people are like, how long you been doing Salesforce? They’re like, oh, since 06′. And you think in your head, that’s not that long. And you’re like, whoa, that’s 15, 16 years now. But outside of being passionate and instructing people, do you have any hobbies, anything you like to do outside of the Salesforce world that you would want to share with people?

Amit Malik: Yeah, I would say I enjoy traveling. So, I make a point because of my job, I get a chance to travel a lot, the globe, I try to stay back at my personal expense. I enjoy the city. I try to meet different people, understand how different people interact. I enjoy reading books. I read on finance, I read on leadership. I would say Salesforce is just part of my mind. My mind is bigger than that. So, I try to-

Mike: I would hope so.

Amit Malik: So, I try to maintain that level and I enjoy walking on the streets, I run, I practice yoga. So, I do different flavors of my lifestyle to keep myself fit and healthy.

Mike: Wow. Is there one city you’re looking forward to getting back to?

Amit Malik: San Francisco for Dreamforce?

Mike: I totally wasn’t even trying to bait you. I was literally just asking a question. Yes, I look forward to that too. There’s a few places in San Francisco I enjoy eating, looking forward to that. Well, good. So Amit, you’re going to be at Dreamforce this year. I look forward to seeing you there. Our admins who listen the podcast, we’ll be on the lookout for you. And I will post the links to the courses that Amit mentioned in the show flow. So Amit, thank you for being here on the podcast.

Amit Malik: Thank you so much, Mike. I appreciate your guidance and thank you very much, listeners. I hope you learned a lot on this podcast. Best of luck for your future. Thank you.

Mike: So, it was great having Amit on the podcast. I know I took some notes. I really love that line. And tell me if this resonated with you, but whether you identify as an admin or a developer or an architect, Amit said it perfectly. He goes, we’re all Salesforce professionals. And that rings really true as we head into Dreamforce, we head into a lot of community events. We’re all Salesforce professionals, we’re all trying to succeed and excel in what we do. And I think it struck a chord with me, but I’d love to know what Amit said, that rang for you. And I can’t say this enough, boy, it’s really fun taking courses that you feel will really expand your knowledge horizon. And omit said one oh ones for everyone.
It gives you best practices. And as an admin, I want to build the best possible apps I can that are going to perform that my users are going to love. And if taking an architect course helps me do that, then I owe it to myself to do them. So, that was a couple things that I took away from this. I’d love to hear what you thought of the podcast. Hit me up on Twitter and give us your feedback.
Of course, if you want to learn more about all things, Salesforce admin go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links that we mentioned in the episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @Salesforceadmn, no I, on Twitter, of course my co-host Jillian Bruce is on Twitter. You can follow her @JillianKBruce. You can give me a follow. Let me know what you think of the episode on Twitter as well. I am @MikeGerholdt. And with that stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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