Curiosity Software Ireland
Analyst Coverage: Daniel Howard
Curiosity Software Ireland (CSI) is a software company based in Dublin. Founded in 2017, its flagship product is Visual Integration Processor (VIP), a rapid application assembly framework. It also provides consulting services to go with this product. Its partners include Digital-Assured, Ostia, and Eggplant.
Visual Integration Processor
Last Updated: 9th November 2018
Award: Mutable: One To Watch, 2018
Visual Integration Processor is a .NET based rapid application assembly framework for integrating software. It acts as ‘software glue’, allowing you to very easily assemble existing applications and other software components into a single, automated business process or application. Its chief gain to efficiency comes in its ability to eliminate the need to write large quantities of generic ‘plumbing’ code that is normally needed to pipe software together, opting instead for a user-friendly, drag-and-drop flowchart model that is vastly quicker and easier to use.
Although VIP is a low-code product in the most literal sense – it dramatically reduces the amount of code you need to create software applications – it diverges significantly from much of the low-code market. Where many low-code products focus on customer facing applications, VIP instead emphasises its ability to quickly create and automate business processes. Moreover, it does so without being married to an all-encompassing Business Process Management (BPM) suite.
VIP is available on-premise and in the cloud. It is distributed in packages, with each package providing a ready-made set of connectors that allow you to easily leverage products and tools common to a particular use case.
“After evaluating a number of Robotic Process Automation platforms, the UK’s largest house builder decided to go with Visual Integration Processor to undertake their Digital Transformation as it was the only toolchain that was able to fuse workloads from legacy Enterprise IT platforms together with our modern Enterprise Resource Management platform.”
“We have found that VIP gives us the flexibility and the range of functionality to tackle any process our customers ask us to automate no matter how complex.”
VIP allows you to create software applications, including automated business processes, by building flowcharts. These flowcharts are created by dragging and dropping a) connectors to existing software and b) ‘core components’ (basic flow operations such as branching) into a model. This allows you to create sophisticated flows between your different software applications and data sources. An example can be seen in Figure 1. Flows in VIP can be exposed as self-contained components and reused in other flowcharts, allowing for nested flows. It is also possible to include loops in your flowcharts.
The various model components available have a variety of configuration options. Chief among these is the ability to detect variables exposed in any of your connected software components, allowing them to be leveraged and acted upon either by the model itself (for instance, as part of a branching decision) or another software component. Moreover, VIP keeps track of your data as it moves through your flow and allows that information to be accessed at any time. This can be helpful for setting up rules engines or predictive analytics that may be able to act on or derive useful insights from the movement of your data.
A variety of connectors are available out of the box, although the specifics may vary depending on your chosen package. This includes spreadsheets such as Excel and Google Sheets; APIs, including SOAP and REST (specifically, OData); popular data formats, such as XML and JSON; test automation, including Selenium and Parasoft; ‘ChatOps’ integration with Slack and Facebook; and a number of other popular products such as Git and JIRA. Additional, pre-configured solutions are available to enable chat bot integration with Slack, sentiment analysis, and integration with Eggplant Functional. The creation of connectors and solutions is primarily user-driven, and CSI promise to build any additional connectors or solutions that you need.
It is also possible to include software in your model even if it does not have a connector. This includes your own in-house and legacy software. Moreover, if the software in question is written in a .NET language, such as C# or Visual Basic, you can effectively create a custom connector by building the application and placing the resulting DLL file in a pre-specified location for VIP to access. For software where this is not possible, you can leverage test automation products (such as Selenium) to create scripts that automatically interact with your software, then include those scripts in your flowchart. These scripts interact with your software just as a user would, before extracting and relaying any relevant information back to your model.
There are two major use cases for VIP. Firstly, it allows you to easily and quickly create new software applications by stringing together existing software applications and products. Secondly, it allows you to automate your existing business processes, or create new, automated processes, by incorporating actions that would normally be done manually into a flowchart. For example, a very simple flowchart might automatically convert newly uploaded documents into a PDF format, where previously you were having to save each document as a PDF by hand. In this case, the flowchart only represents a small saving in cost. But across an enterprise, those savings can add up rapidly. In addition, VIP supports a model in which your business processes can be automated gradually, starting with the most mundane and repetitive tasks. You do not need to automate everything in one go (or, indeed, at all).
Both of these use cases are enhanced by the fact that creating flowcharts in VIP is easy and intuitive, even without a background in software development. Moreover, the visual models used by VIP are very easy to understand. This is helpful for enabling collaboration between developers and business users (for example, when designing a business process). Finally, it’s worth noting that VIP makes it easy to integrate new technologies into your business processes: all you need to do is add the appropriate connectors. This provides a measure of future-proofing that many organisations sorely lack, particularly in the current climate of extensive (and in some cases recurring) digital transformation.
The Bottom Line
VIP is a lightweight, easy to use product for assembling disparate software into a single application or automated business process. It allows you to automate as much, or as little, as you like, and can interface with a large variety of testing products, data types, and APIs out of the box. All in all, it is an effective point solution for automating your business processes. If that is your interest, we wholeheartedly recommend adding it to your shortlist.