In March 2017 Dell Boomi acquired Manywho, a low code development platform that allows organisations to simplify their business processes through workflow automation. Manywho was founded by two previous employees of Salesforce who identified the need for more complex workflow capability within the product.
It was soon realised that this was not a problem for just Salesforce, but also a number of other cloud products and that Manywho could provide this. Whilst many would think this is a strange acquisition for Boomi, when you look at it in more detail the logic behind the move is compelling.
Boomi’s strength has always been as an integration tool, consistently topping Gartner’s magic quadrant with their AtomSphere tool and in the last few years have expanded with API management and MDM (Master Data Management) offerings. By adding a workflow automation tool, Boomi now provides an interlinked, top to bottom solution that covers everything from the UI/business layer down to the integration, service level. With all of these layers coming under the one Boomi platform, businesses are now better equipped than ever to deal with the flow of data around their landscape, whether that be cloud, hybrid or on-premise.
So what does this acquisition mean for customers of Dell Boomi? In short, it is going to give organisations the ability to put business processes in place for anything any everything that can be automated. Sophisticated, custom data entry points can be created through web entry, mobile applications, SMS messages and even phone calls. At its core, Flow is much like many other workflow automation tools with the workflows being created around three key areas; data represented by red nodes on the Flow canvas, logical operations by green nodes and UI interactions through blue nodes. What takes it a step further is its ability to be embedded seamlessly within systems such as Salesforce to enhance the user experience. For example, embedding Flow in Salesforce allows it to have a dynamically updating interface with low/zero coding, saving significant time over standard Salesforce enhancements. Boomi Flow can also be integrated easily with 3rd party business rule engines and service to enable the reuse of existing business logic (for example credit check logic or risk analysis services).
Boomi Flow comes with around 10 pre-built integrations out of the box, including an integration with its stable mate Boomi AtomSphere, so integrating with other systems couldn’t be easier. Despite utilising a ‘drag, drop and configure’ toolset Boomi Flow is capable of implementing highly complex business processes, and this approach ensures that the users can focus on the requirements of the process itself rather than how the tool ‘allows’ the process to be implemented.
While the product is designed to be easy-to-use and not require coding, the user interface (UI) and most of the software development kits (SDKs) are shared sourced and freely available on their Github meaning developers can edit the UI to suit their exact needs although many organisations will be happy with the out of the box UI. It is also important to note that all elements of Boomi Flow are API enabled, all the way from the Flow Engine to the UI which make it highly extensible.
So what outstanding questions are there around Boomi Flow? Flow appears to be an excellent choice for automating processes that sit on cloud based software such as Salesforce or NetSuite but we have not yet seen much around its ability for the automation of processes for on-premise systems such as SAP ERP. There is a question around how simple this will be, although with the cabaplity of Atomsphere to integrate with on-premise systems, we see this as being perfectly feasible. This is something we will be putting to the test internally in the coming weeks, so watch this space for more details.
Even though organisations are increasingly adopting ‘cloud or nothing’ IT strategies, it will still be a long time until all organisations are fully cloud based and therefore it is key that Flow makes it as easy to build workflows on these on-premise systems as it does for cloud based solutions. Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether Boomi Flow will be adopted as keenly by organisation as the Boomi Atomsphere platform has been.