Australia’s Flinders University is using the Boomi Platform to power a cloud-first strategy that will modernise IT and deliver seamless digital experiences to students and staff.

Flinders wanted to provide a superior digital experience to students and staff with a modern, cloud-first IT environment. To achieve this it needed flexible and easy-to-use cloud-native integration to quickly connect a diverse array of cloud and on-premise applications.

It opted for an iPaas solution from Boomi and as a result the University was able to achieve a number of key deliverables including; 

  • Reduced integration development time by at least 2x
  • Supported rapid deployment of a diverse range of 130 integration
  • Streamlined onboarding, lowered administrative overhead
  • Served as foundation a to new integration centre of excellence

For more than 50 years, Flinders University has been a leading educational institution in Australia, recognised for its pioneering research and excellence in teaching.

Ranked as one of the world’s leading universities by Times Higher Education, Flinders today serves more than 27,000 students at its main campus in Southern Adelaide, South Australia and several other locations in the country.

It’s now extending that leadership with an overarching 10- year strategy called Making a Difference: The 2025 Agenda.

This visionary initiative will prepare graduates for success in a dynamic yet unpredictable future of technological innovation and disruptive change. Fundamental to the broad 2025 vision is a five-year digital transformation strategy, which includes moving up to up to 90 per cent of the organisation’s applications to the cloud.

Through the cloud-first approach, Flinders aims to provide a dynamic digital campus experience to its students and its staff of more than 5,000 employees. By delivering a personalised student experience and meeting the high expectations of young, tech-savvy digital natives, Flinders can deepen engagement throughout the student lifecycle, from prospect to graduate to alumnus.

In assessing its ambitious plan, Flinders recognised the critical need for integration to connect both new cloud applications and existing legacy systems.

“We had very immature integration capabilities that were ad hoc, point-to-point and very manual,” says Nicole Fishers, Flinders’ deputy chief information officer. “We quickly realised that our lack of integration capability would be a limiting factor in our cloud-first road map.”

Flinders found the answer to its integration challenges with Boomi’s low-code, cloud-native platform. Fishers says Boomi offered a complete platform that addressed the university’s full scope of data and integration needs including cloud-native integration, as well as capabilities for master data, workflow automation and API management — enabling true digital transformation by easily and efficiently connecting applications, data and people.

“Boomi is helping us deploy integration far faster and with much greater flexibility than we ever thought possible,” Fishers says. “Boomi is central to our ability to quickly roll out new digital services, as well as more easily respond to any technology or market changes.”

Speeding Cloud Migration

With Boomi, integration was fast, easy to use and flexible to connect cloud and legacy on-premise systems. In contrast, other vendors Flinders assessed required more advanced technical and development skills that Flinders didn’t have in house. “It really came down to how fast we could move while being super efficient with our budget and resources,” Fishers says, noting that the university was able to quickly ramp up a six-person integration team with no previous integration experience. “Our team has been able to get up and running really quickly on Boomi, and we haven’t needed any specialised help to use it.”

At the top of Flinders’ integration needs was a large-scale migration of a core student management system (SMS) and financial systems from on-premise to cloud versions.

Using Boomi, Flinders’ team reworked and replicated about 130 integrations between the SMS and the financial system to other applications, including systems for learning management, human resources, CRM and admissions.

Fishers says Boomi’s reusable, standards-based environment supported the complex, high-profile project with exceptional speed and scalability. In just a year, Flinders completed the migration of the core SMS and financial systems to the cloud, and streamlined connectivity while eliminating manual administration work.

“Without Boomi, it would have been almost impossible to meet our objectives in the time we had set,” Fishers says.

“It would have taken us at least twice as long to build the 130 integrations we needed if we took another approach instead of Boomi.”

Creating Omnichannel Interactions and Visibility

Building on its initial success with Boomi, Flinders is now using the Boomi platform to enrich and streamline student experiences, from recruitment and onboarding to graduation and alumni relations. To meet the high expectations of students and staff, Flinders aims to provide mobile-friendly, on-demand access to educational resources and information across multiple channels.

“Boomi’s integration capabilities ensure our apps operate concurrently and consistently so that students can learn through a modernised environment that is accessible on their terms — on mobile, at any time, from any location,” says Kelvin McCarthy, a solution architect for Flinders information and digital solutions team.

A key project focuses on creating better control of Flinders’ omnichannel interactions with students. The university is working to connect website, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, text messaging and other applications to better understand and anticipate student needs and deliver more personalised interactions. It’s also streamlining the onboarding process by connecting to an identity management application.

“Boomi is the foundational element as we integrate multiple systems to provide a seamless student journey and gain much better visibility into those interactions,”

Fishers says. “With Boomi, it is now easy for us to connect together any of these separate technologies and unify their data into a single view.”

“Boomi is the foundational element as we integrate multiple systems to provide a seamless student journey and gain much better visibility into those interactions. With Boomi, it is now easy for us to connect together any of these separate technologies and unify their data into a single view.”

Throughout its integration journey, Flinders is taking advantage of Boomi’s support for real-time and near real-time integration to deliver information on the fly, without the lag time of periodic batch processing. As Fishers notes, that helps Flinders meet student and staff demand for instant information updates seen in banking, retail and other industries.

As it builds out its integration practice, Flinders is creating an integration centre of excellence to centralise and support integration skills and techniques across the organisation.

“The centre of excellence brings together anyone carrying out integration to collectively develop the processes, standards, governance and other foundational elements,” Fishers says. “Ultimately we’d like to get where we can push services out to other parts of the university and be able to connect up systems even more quickly and easily.”

The integration centre of excellence plays a key role as Flinders evolves beyond Boomi’s core integration technology to utilise other capabilities in Boomi’s unified the platform, including Boomi API Management, Boomi Flow for workflow automation, and Boomi Hub to govern data quality and “golden records” across disparate cloud and legacy applications.

For example, Flinders is undertaking a project with Boomi Hub to ensure consistent and timely student information across applications. The goal is to unify its view of the full student lifecycle, from applicant to alumnus.

It is also using Boomi Hub to manage “golden records” among disparate data sources to streamline interactions with the university, so students and staff don’t have to switch out of different applications and systems to complete related tasks. 

“With Boomi, we can have confidence in data accuracy as all information stored by our apps will be handled by the Boomi platform in the cloud,” McCarthy says. “This type of accuracy and real-time access helps us better understand the student journey. And it will become increasingly important the further we progress along our digital road map.”

Regardless of the challenges, Flinders has made Boomi core to its ambitions to be one of the world’s leading educational institutions for the next 50 years. “With Boomi, we are in a great position to fulfill our vision of the digital campus for the 21st century,” Fishers says.

About this author

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which Boomi is a corporate member. Members provide their expertise and insights for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.

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