Steve Wood, Boomi’s new chief product officer, is a serial innovator. Previously a vice president at Salesforce, Wood founded the low-code workflow development platform vendor ManyWho, acquired by Boomi in 2017. That technology is now the foundation for Boomi Flow, a key part of Boomi’s unified platform for helping its customers build connected businesses.
We sat down with Steve to learn about his new job in helping lead Boomi technology innovation and his vision for evolving the Boomi platform.
You’ve recently been named to the newly created post of Boomi CPO. What prompted that and what is the objective for the role?
Steve Wood: The idea is to bring closer alignment between what we do in research and development of the Boomi platform, what we’re actually building, and how we talk to the market about it. We have a vice president of R&D, a chief technology officer and a chief marketing officer, and the goal of the chief product officer is to make sure that we have very close alignment across those functions.
It’s fundamentally about customer engagement. We want to ensure that the experience is just really amazing from end to end. It should be a “wow” experience right from the start when a customer visits Boomi.com to learn about our technology. That should continue as a customer then moves on to using the Boomi unified platform to build a connected business, often starting with integration and expanding from there.
My goal as CPO is to ensure that we have a unified platform that customers can absolutely rely on to solve tough architectural and technical challenges. Our job is to remove all those historic costs and complexities of running integration software. Customers shouldn’t have to worry about that. We upgrade them 11 times a year and continuously pour innovation into the platform so they can look back and say, “The Boomi platform is very well put together, easy to manage, super productive and can be applied to many different use cases.”
What is your vision for the Boomi platform?
Steve Wood: As we have up to this point, we will continue to expand the definition of integration. At the start of the company, Boomi was involved in EDI and then pioneered the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) market based on an amazingly strong foundation. The Boomi platform lets you connect all your applications and data and deploy our Atom run-time engine to handle any integration workload as you need — in our cloud, your cloud, on-premise, behind a firewall, on your devices and things, wherever it may be.
We’ve extended the platform to include master data management, using our Master Data Hub to coordinate “golden records” to make sure that everything is consistent and correct across all of your systems of engagement. It’s an incredibly productive way of using integration to solve master data problems.
Then we added API management to make integrations available to APIs so they can be accessed in real time, rather than in batch. You can run an integration process and really quickly compose, create and publish APIs using our drag-and-drop development environment — another great way we’ve further expand how organizations can build their connected business by streamlining business processes.
We’ve now further extended the concept of enterprise integration by bringing people into the equation through a workflow engagement layer based on Boomi’s acquisition of ManyWho. That solves a whole new class of problems. It makes it possible to quickly spin up a mobile application or it could be an employee onboarding portal.
People can use these apps online or offline, and they work on all devices. And they are integrated into your broader data flows. The apps can collect data from employees and then seamlessly deliver that new data to the applications that need them.
Boomi is increasing R&D spending by 50 percent in both 2017 and 2018. What’s the focus for development of the Boomi platform?
Steve Wood: It’s a split of things. We’re investing quite a lot more in API Management, and we’re making continued investments in Boomi Flow to make sure that it’s seamlessly integrated with the rest of the platform. And we continue investing in our core, constantly looking at making it easier, faster and more productive for everybody using it.
We’re also investing a lot in data science, machine learning and AI. We recognize our unique position in being able to leverage really great data science and machine learning to accelerate what our customers can do on the platform through our Suggest, Resolve and Assure capabilities. These rely on crowd-sourced data to help customers build mappings, resolve issues and conduct regression testing.
We already do a fair bit for big data and the Internet of Things. We’re obviously going to continue to do business there as more organizations look to integrate sensor-based information into core systems to automate processes, apply analytics and support better decision-making.
What does a customer do with machine learning in their business processes? Well, they need really great data to ensure that they’re getting the right intent or recommendations from their machine learning or from their analytics projects. If they can’t trust the data, then AI is not a particularly helpful thing to embrace.
And there’s messaging, bots and voice interaction with systems like Amazon’s Alexa. How do you solve the data challenges in those new channels of engagement? Boomi offers approaches for how you can architect with voice, messaging, bots, machine learning and AI, and analytics. We’re looking at that consistently and continually.
Boomi defines its platform as being low-code and cloud-native. How do you define those terms?
Steve Wood: Low code is an interesting term because it represents the Boomi platform very well. The platform is focused on high productivity with a drag-and-drop, point-and-click development environment, so you can get your work done super fast…click, click, click and off you go.
That’s really the no-code way of doing it. But as we’ve matured into the enterprise, as much as we’d like to point and click to solve every problem, sometimes the best approach is to strategically use a bit of custom coding that covers the “last mile” of connectivity for complex applications and systems. This approach gives large enterprises exactly what they need.
Low code means that Boomi minimizes that amount of coding you have to do, so that when you do have to code, you’re highly productive and developers love using the technology they know. They don’t have to learn a whole new, weird, proprietary programming language. In the enterprise no code is not always realistic — low code is absolutely where the industry is going.
And how about cloud native? What should that mean to customers?
Steve Wood: Cloud native means the platform is built from the ground up in the cloud, not on an old on-premise system hosted by a vendor. This is commonly known as cloud washing.
In contrast, Boomi runs a multi-tenant architecture so that a single instance serves multiple customers, with built-in development and technical operations functions that you’d have to devise yourself with on-premise technology. There is zero maintenance, upgrades or other management hassles. We completely removed these traditional challenges of on-premise software.
True cloud-native services also open up economies of scale and all kinds of efficiencies, which is to say we can do a lot more with our multi-tenant platform and pass those cost savings and capabilities on to our customers.
Being cloud native, we continuously push innovations out to customers and ensure they work. We’re proud of the fact that we have the industry’s best SLAs and the industry’s best uptime. That’s because we pour an enormous amount of energy into making sure that our customers have a really great experience with our platform. If a customer has to scale up to two million integrations a day, that’s OK. Cloud native provides the elastic capacity you need to make sure your business doesn’t miss a beat.
Do you have a favorite customer example that spotlights the value of the Boomi platform?
Steve Wood: Sure! We have a lot of examples. One of my favorites is a multibillion-dollar telco customer that’s deploying Boomi for almost a thousand integrations across its cloud and on-premise systems. They’re a classic Boomi story because they began by using Boomi to help with their core application integrations. Then they moved on to our Master Data Hub to ensure that data matches across all their systems of engagement.
They’ve also done work with our API tool to create and publish APIs to get real-time connectivity to their infrastructure and their applications, which is really about unlocking their data. They are now also exploring Boomi Flow. With this in place, they will be able to compose business applications end to end, right onto mobile devices, to give their workforce a more modern and engaging experience in accessing mission-critical data.
An IT leader in the organization tells us that Boomi is making a huge difference. Boomi is consistently helping IT and the business make new strides in transforming their operations. Working with us, he and his team have been able to continually innovate, making him a highly successful partner with the business-side of the organization.
One interesting thing he’s said is that “Boomi allows IT to say yes to the business.” Before they had Boomi, IT was having to say no. Now that he can readily support business requests for access to new data and connections to applications, he’s become very popular with the business because they can now quickly unlock their data to drive efficiencies and better insights.
Interested in learning more about how Boomi’s low-code, cloud-native platform can help your business? Please contact our integration experts today.