If you’re a seasoned IT professional, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “time to value” tossed around liberally by sales reps, IT analysts, media pundits, vendor executives, and marketing types.
Sure, it’s easy to dismiss the term as clichéd jargon, and some do. But savvy IT pros will challenge a vendor to present concrete evidence to back up its claims of how it can rapidly provide a big return on investment.
That’s the case with Boomi customers and prospects. We’re constantly asked to outline exactly how our unified integration platform translates into accelerating project timelines and helping an organization move faster. This is what I will cover in this blog post.
But first, what does “time to value” mean for integration developers and architects?
In the integration space, the definition of time to value, or faster time to market, has changed and evolved. The days where a visual programming, drag and drop approach was revolutionary are long gone. For customers today, time to value means focusing on data that helps them accelerate delivery of new products and services.
Our customers expect an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) to guide them in building integrations, versus the old days of leveraging tools to build everything from scratch.
And they don’t want to have to reinvent the integration wheel for widely used enterprise applications, such as Salesforce, Workday, NetSuite, and ServiceNow. Instead, they want a way to take advantage of mapping rules and orchestration rules that have proven successful for other organizations, and just customize details to meet their own unique business needs.
The desired results? Increased revenue, reduced costs, and enhanced customer and partner satisfaction.
Why Speed and Productivity Matter
Organizations can’t afford a six- or nine-month integration ordeal in today’s fast-paced digital world. That’s time wasted, money left on the table, and competitive advantage lost. The faster an integration is up and running, the faster the business can reap the rewards. IT can quickly move on to its next project, further multiplying business value instead of slugging its way through an endless backlog.
Best-in-class time to value is one of the many advantages that Boomi delivers to our 10,000-plus customers. Our customers frequently tell us they’re able to build integrations two to five times faster with Boomi than they can with custom coding or legacy on-premises middleware. Some even say they’ve estimated a 10-fold acceleration in development time.
And that’s just in development time, not counting maintenance. Some organizations using legacy on-premises middleware have told me their integration teams spend roughly 70 percent of their time maintaining integration solutions around non-functional requirements like upgrades, patches, hotfixes, regression testing, horizontal scaling, etc. This is the only way they can take advantage of new features and releases and meet the demands of business transaction volume needs.
With Boomi, an integration team can focus virtually 100 percent of its time on building the connectivity and innovations the business needs.
The unified Boomi platform offers features, functionality, and capabilities that equip customers to move faster. I’ve broken these down into five discrete categories, or ways that Boomi helps significantly improve time-to-value across the organization.
I’ll start with some basics on the iPaaS technology Boomi pioneered. Then I’ll look at some of Boomi’s next-level capabilities that boost the speed and productivity of developers and architects using our platform.
For customers today, time to value means focusing on data that helps them accelerate delivery of new products and services.
1. Low-Code, Cloud-Native, and Easy to Learn
Boomi’s low-code environment gives developers prepackaged templates and drag-and-drop tools in a visual environment to configure integrations far faster than hand coding or using outdated middleware. Utilizing Boomi’s built-in connectors to 200+ applications, you can quickly point and click to connect applications as needed.
And when needed, you can build more complex integrations (e.g., to outdated legacy apps) using Boomi’s SDK, generic protocols such as REST, SOAP, OData, HTTP, and others. Once you’ve built integrations to legacy applications, our API Management module lets you quickly build APIs for easier consumption by other business units or developers.
Boomi’s centralized cloud-native platform lets you take full advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer. You don’t need to deal with traditional installation and management of thick clients/integration development interfaces (IDEs) to facilitate development.
With our cloud-native development platform, all you need is a lightweight laptop and access to the internet. By simply providing the access credentials to developers, they can immediately start building integrations — both simple and complex — with various enterprise integration design patterns. Automatic upgrades ease the burden on IT of keeping software up to date, and eliminate potential issues with versioning. This contributes to a faster, more agile integration team.
Finally, Boomi is easy to learn and use. In today’s job market, it can be difficult to replace developers with specialized skills if they find a new job outside of your organization. Boomi eliminates the delays and costs that would typically result from such a scenario. With free Boomi training and certification, developers can be productive in a matter of weeks, not the months needed to master specialized coding.
2. AI-Powered Mapping, Error Resolution, and Testing
Data mapping, error resolution, and regression testing take a lot of time in traditional integration development environments. Connectivity itself isn’t the issue: many SaaS applications now offer access to their services via easily consumable APIs, and many iPaaS vendors today offer out of the box (OOTB) connectors to these applications. One can easily use standard REST, SOAP, or OData connectors to facilitate connectivity. But the challenge of integrating the data and mapping it from source to target systems still exists.
Boomi cuts 75 to 80 percent of that work with its unique capabilities, based on crowdsourced contributions and artificial intelligence (AI). We pioneered AI in the iPaaS market back in 2008 with built-in functionality for automated data mapping, simplified error resolution, and automated regression testing. (Find out more about our Boomi Suggest and Boomi Assure capabilities in another recent Boomi blog post, “Route Guidance Is Starting for Your Integration Projects.”)
Today, those AI-powered capabilities draw on more than 50 terabytes of anonymized metadata and more than 200 million data mappings collected over years of crowdsourced customer experiences logged in the Boomi cloud. We expose that community data to users to help guide and accelerate use of the Boomi platform.
As a practical example, many Boomi customers have already connected NetSuite to Salesforce, Salesforce to Workday, Workday to SAP Concur, and so forth. So when it’s time to configure a new integration, our automated data mapping capability gives you a roadmap of proven data transformations and mappings that other customers already have in place.
You’re not starting from scratch. You’re not spending weeks or months painstakingly piecing together data mappings. Instead, you’re speeding time to value through Boomi’s unique blend of crowdsourcing and AI.
3. Faster Data Discovery, Preparation, and Access With AI-Powered Automation
IT teams and business analysts face a growing challenge with application proliferation and distributed data. It’s becoming more difficult to know what information the organization has, where that information resides, and the information’s context.
Without those insights, integrations are built on incorrect assumptions and data goes underutilized for analytics and initiatives such as gaining a 360-degree customer view.
To avoid this, IT teams and business analysts are spending more time finding and preparing data. But manually piecing together an inventory of data assets is a losing battle. It takes far too much time, it’s incomplete, and it’s impossible to keep up as data changes.
Today, customers are expecting something like a catalog to help them identify the systems/applications where data resides, understand the data, identify anomalies, and enable better and more robust integration.
Boomi addresses this problem with data discovery, data preparation, and self-service data catalog capabilities. Featuring automation and AI, this technology lets IT and business users understand data assets, ready data for use, and easily find it on demand.
That translates into greater speed across the organization. Business analysts get self-service capabilities to shop for data in the Boomi data catalog, much as consumers shop for products on retail websites. They don’t need to log a data management request with IT, and then wait weeks or more to reach the top of the IT project queue. Instead, they can find what they need in minutes.
Automated data discovery, preparation, and cataloging can help jump-start digital transformation projects such as application consolidation, regulatory compliance, and analytics. IT and business analysts are spared time-consuming work, and they can more quickly capitalize on data as a crucial business asset.
4. Eliminating the Time and Cost Issues of Poor Quality Data
Poor quality data costs the average business $12.9 million a year, IT analyst firm Gartner estimates. The problem is that data is typically inconsistent and incomplete across applications. It often comes down to the details — the name of a customer or supplier is misspelled or an address changed. Suddenly, you have two versions of the “truth.” But which one is correct and can be trusted?
Identifying and fixing such discrepancies is a highly manual burden for IT teams and business users. It also erodes time to value and can undermine customer, partner, and employee experiences. Trying to address the problem by implementing a traditional on-premises master data management (MDM) platform is a slow and expensive proposition.
Boomi changes the game with Master Data Hub. This cloud-based hub lets IT quickly reconcile, match, cleanse, and enrich contradictory information to create “golden records” that can be propagated across applications. Those capabilities will be strengthened even further as we integrate Unifi’s data-discovery and preparation technology.
The time savings can be huge across both IT and the business. Having trusted information eliminates lengthy troubleshooting cycles that can divert IT from its core mission. Business analysts are spared tedious compare-and-contrast exercises to pin down data anomalies across systems. That’s greater value all around — and at blistering speed.
5. Edge-Based Integration With IoT
Another exciting way that organizations are boosting time to value with Boomi is by deploying integrations at the network edge. That can include Internet of Things (IoT) devices, partner and customer systems, and digital touchpoints such as point-of-sale terminals.
Edge-based integration puts real-time connectivity closer to where the data is generated. It eliminates data and network latency issues that can introduce delays and opportunity costs for time-sensitive businesses. This marks a huge shift from traditional models in which integration was locked behind a data center firewall, and integrations ran once a day.
The old model of pulling data to a central location, performing integrations, running an analysis and then taking action simply takes too long in today’s digital world, opening up risk of fraudulent activity in addition to missed opportunities. To respond faster, organizations need to have compute capabilities closer to where the data is generated.
This is possible with Boomi thanks to the Boomi Atom. Boomi Atoms are lightweight, purpose-built, fully optimized runtime engines. Our patented architecture provides self-upgrades, automated regression testing, and management from a centralized console. This allows organizations to deploy Atoms anywhere, with no restrictions and no management overhead. With conventional approaches to integration, that’s simply impossible.
For example, a Dutch company, digitalAngel, offers healthcare providers a “smart mattress.” Boomi collects data from sensors in the mattress via an IoT gateway, providing digital monitoring and real-time alerts to improve quality of care for bedridden patients.
Another healthcare company, a large provider of dialysis services, is deploying Boomi directly onto medical devices so that information flows from devices to doctors, without administrative staff needing to enter data manually into an application. That accelerates dialysis services, improves healthcare outcomes, and eliminates the risk of manual data-entry errors.
And these are just some of the ways that organizations are accelerating time to value with Boomi. Check out our customers page for even more examples!
Contact Boomi experts in your region to learn more about how Boomi can help your organization achieve your IT and business goals faster.
A previous version of this blog was published in February 2020.