Shared from the 11/26/2019 Financial Review eEdition

New solutions gaining broader appeal


Ajit Melarkode is happy to admit his work isn’t particularly sexy.

Recently appointed managing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan for Boomi, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) company, Melarkode says ‘‘in every organisation, whether it is an NGO or an energy company too much attention is paid to the ‘sexy bits’, not the hard bits where organisation succeeds or fails’’.

And for him, creating a digitally connected business is the key to an organisation’s success.

Melarkode’s appointment comes at a time when the iPaaS industry is undergoing a market consolidation, with bigger companies – backed by IT behemoths – buying out small players and dominating the market.

Even Boomi, formed in 2000, has been part of one such behemoth – the Dell Group – since 2010.

‘‘Everyone is talking about digitisation,’’ says Melarkode. ‘‘However, the conversation has shifted from digital devices such as smartphones and tablets to the stuff we are focused on; the unsexy but very important bits such as connecting applications so people have a single source of data.’’

Boomi does more than just dump information somewhere convenient for easy access. Its processes monitor the metadata of the information gathered by an organisation across a variety of applications, gleaning patterns from that information to create a deeper understanding of not just the information but what it represents.

Boomi, for example, integrated 700 applications for the University of Melbourne, creating a centralised data synchronisation hub that accelerated the roll-out of new services across seven campuses.

Already popular with other IT-based companies, iPaaS solutions are now gaining broader appeal as non-technical organisations become more familiar with – and are more likely to trust – cloud-based storage of their data.

Melarkode says the diversity of countries within his area of responsibility means there is a mix of developing markets and highly industrialised economies. He says Australia, with its Englishspeaking workforce and fast-growing local iPaaS sector, is a key part of his remit.

‘‘Australia really is different,’’ says Melarkode, who admits he is attracted to the country’s support for tall poppy syndrome. ‘‘They will test you out as they are naturally cynical. Australia is quite far from other large markets.’’

Melarkode believes this has fostered a local attitude that the country ‘‘can show the world we can do it better’’.

Cynicism aside, Australia has brought its own unique challenges to Boomi, including Origin Energy, which required staff to access cloudbased data while working in remote locations as much as four hours from the nearest commercial centres.

‘‘How you grab that data and connect it to other data sets is at the forefront of every discussion we have with clients,’’ says Nick Lambrou, managing director of Boomi Australia-New Zealand.

Lambrou says clients need to understand ‘‘integration is not a verticalised solution’’, but more a ‘‘consolidation of best-of-breed’’ to break down data silos and make accessing information easier and faster across organisations that may have allowed unwieldy data-management processes to take root.

He says being part of Dell gives Boomi an advantage here as it ‘‘operates under a brand that has an amazing footprint of customers’’.

He adds that some organisations, including one Queensland aged-care provider that has worked with Boomi, are being forced to improve their data storage and access to comply with tighter rules and government regulations overseeing their operations.

Having a tighter control over data, he believes, helps with compliance, as information can be found faster and more efficiently and any regulatory mishaps quickly rectified.

This is a critical capability amid the Royal Commissions and has increased pressures from industry and consumer watchdogs. And, in the case of the aged-care provider, the new system not only satisfied legal requirements, but it also saved 2000 ‘‘people hours’’ and achieved a full return on investment.

Lambrou cites another NGO, where ‘‘for every dollar they raise, 36 cents are eaten up by costs... Boomi is digitising a process to ease that financial burden and make more money available where it’s most needed’’.

A Total Economic Impact report by research firm Forrester, commissioned by Boomi, found that using the Boomi platform typically delivered a three-fold return on investment. But these numbers don’t mean it’s an easy concept to pitch to a business.

‘‘While everybody wants transformation, no one wants change,’’ says Melarkode.

So bringing in cloud-based integration to organisations that may already have longstanding data management arrangements means training is an important part of the system rollout – particularly if encountering resistance from employees wedded to the status quo.

In the case of the aged-care provider, which did not have an in-house project team, this meant two weeks of training with a Boomi consultant to whittle down around 30 databases to three and staff moved from handwritten notes to mobile, digital devices.

‘‘Many organisations are under a lot of pressure to be better, faster and more cost-effective,’’ says Lambrou. ‘‘We are increasingly turning to technology to help us meet these challenges and I don’t see that trend going away.’’

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