brian_frantz

A Green Light for Innovation at Boomi

Blog Post created by brian_frantz Employee on Mar 1, 2016

The life of a software developer can be pretty regimented: plan, design, build, test, bug fix...rinse and repeat, onto the next feature. Being in that rhythm can be a good thing and the features can feel like they write themselves but sometimes solving the same problems again and again can get you in a bit of a rut. Occasionally you need to switch up the routine and get the creative juices flowing again.

 

Enter the “Project Greenlight” internal hackathon.

 

For a week, the engineering department (devs, QA, designers, writers, and managers) divided into small teams to dream and develop whatever product or feature they wanted, related in someway to the Boomi platform.

 

At the end of the week the teams presented proof-of-concepts or demos. Some ideas proved more practical, some more unconventional and fun, but that didn’t matter. The goal was to encourage creative thinking and innovation, foster collaboration, and of course have some fun. If a potentially shippable feature came out of the effort, that’s a bonus.

 

Here are some highlights from the projects.

 

Some displayed real potential as new features:

  • Connection Testing - Test a connection’s settings from within the component without having to execute the entire process.
  • Process Suggest - Use data mining techniques to suggest the next likeliest shape to someone building a process.
  • Video for New Boomi Users - Produce a video to introduce new users to Boomi terminology in a fun and engaging way...think "Schoolhouse Rocks".
  • Install an Atom on Raspberry Pi - Demonstrate the feasibility of running Atoms and Molecules on inexpensive  Raspberry Pi computers

Optimized-raspberry pi.png

 

Others demonstrated fun integration use cases with existing functionality:

  • Call Me an Uber - Integrate an Amazon Echo device into a Boomi process to call an Uber verbally.
  • Fitbit Integration - Build a real-world integration between Boomi and a Fitbit that sends you text messages to encourage you to “keep walking!” to meet your goal and then posts a humble brag on your company’s slack channel.

Optimized-fitbit.png

 

Some could assist the Boomi team in executing their jobs:

  • Boomi Search - Demonstrate a mechanism to identify general usage patterns across platform including connector usage and other data points.
  • Performance Data Analysis Automation - Build a report to assist in analyzing the millions of data points generated by the Boomi performance analysis team as they optimize the Boomi platform.
  • Boomi Bot - Build a virtual presence robot using a Roomba vacuum, an iPad, and a web interface with the goal of allowing remote employees to drive around and teleconference into our office from anywhere in the world.

Optimized-boomi bot.png

 

And one was just…different:

  • Master Data Music - With the high-level goal of building an ambient information radiator to identify anomalies and problems before they become issues for customers, this project transformed real-time API log data into a musical representation of the production workload. Yep - that’s right. This team turned a log file into music - strange yet oddly captivating music. The artists have yet to hear from the record company.

 

One week. Not much time for a newly-formed team to go from concept to prototype but that is exactly what each team did.

 

Walking around the office you could feel the energy in the room:

  • Hearing cheers when things worked and some expletives when they didn’t.
  • Dodging a robot that wasn’t exactly going where it was expected to go.
  • Grabbing a different conference room because that one had been repurposed as a workshop.
  • Hearing strange electronic music from across the room and trying to figure out where it was coming from and why anyone would be listening to that.
  • Seeing groups clustered around computers, deep in discussions, figuring out how to get things to work in such a short time.

 

Friday at lunch was demo (and pizza) time.  Each team presented their effort and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether the result was a working prototype or not much past the "ideation phase", all showed promise and demonstrated the creativity of the team members working together. Needless to say the inaugural Project Greenlight was a success and we’re already looking forward to the next round two later this year.

 

So keep an eye on the product roadmap this year. The next great feature coming your way might be the Greenlight project all grown up.

 

Brian works at Dell Boomi as a product manager for API Management. If you’re a software engineer, designer, quality analyst, or technical writer who’s all about innovation and looking to test your creativity at a rapidly-growing cloud company, check out our career opportunities.

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