Workato has earned its reputation as a proficient automation tool, offering a wide array of features and capabilities. However, the dynamic nature of the business world often prompts organizations to explore workato alternatives, whether due to specific requirements or varying preferences.
Let’s take a quick look at Workato first.
Workato is a versatile automation and integration platform that can be used in the cloud or on-premises. It’s powerful and doesn’t require coding skills.
Workato comes with ready-to-use connectors for over 300 business applications, making it easy to automate tasks between these apps.
It offers different options like Workato Enterprise Suite, Workato OEM, and Workbot for iPaaS. These tools are designed for both smaller and larger enterprises, helping them streamline integration processes for smoother data sharing, enhanced teamwork, and improved operational efficiency.
Workato seamlessly connects with a wide range of applications using its standard adapters (e.g., SQL, HTTP, documents, etc.).
Workato offers a straightforward and user-friendly interface for integration tasks.
Workato serves as an effective tool for integrating multiple CRMs with Marketo. It supports connections with Zoho CRM, MS Dynamics, Insightly, Capsule CRM, Oracle, and Hubspot.
Workato’s pricing is consumption-based, allowing you to try it before committing. You’re only charged for the automated workflows you actually need.
1. Powerful and Flexible: Workato offers extensive features and flexibility, enabling non-technical users to create complex integrations without the high costs of custom development.
2. Broad Application Support: Workato supports a wide range of popular applications like Docs, Slack, Smartsheet, Atlassian, and more.
3. Quick Customer Support: Chat moderators typically respond promptly, and starting help inquiries in the chat window is straightforward.
4. Customizable Bots: Automation “bots” can be tailored through recipes, making it ideal for users with programming skills to update recipes by modifying the code.
5. Comprehensive Automation: Workato provides numerous features to meet all your automation needs, allowing you to integrate your apps and initiate automated processes easily.
6. High Robustness: Workato is robust enough to replace other integrators with fewer required features, making it a versatile choice.
1. Learning Curve: Workato’s basic functions are straightforward, but mastering formulae and advanced capabilities may require some learning.
2. Complex Debugging: Troubleshooting issues can be complicated, especially when errors come from APIs of linked software rather than Workato itself.
3. Limited Support Materials: Support materials can be insufficient, particularly for new connections, and there’s no direct path back to the interface from the support site.
4. Lack of Pricing Transparency: Workato’s plans, and pricing need to be more transparent for better user understanding.
5. Integration Challenges: Occasionally, Workato may lead to integration problems that could be costly, especially for smaller organizations.
6. Overwhelming Interface: Workato’s interface can be overwhelming for users new to automation or integration platforms due to the abundance of options and settings, making it challenging to get started. Also refer Workato vs Boomi for your integration
Workato’s pricing is adaptable to suit your requirements, providing predictability within your budget. They offer transparency and customized pricing models to cater to businesses of all sizes, ensuring a perfect fit for your automation goals, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or an early-stage startup.
Versatile platform for various user types, including software engineers.
Applicable across diverse industries, notably in Information Technology and Computer Software.
Serves mid-market and enterprise-level businesses.
Provides a no-code solution for integration development, process automation, and agile solution delivery.
The Workato automation tool is known for its capability to connect a diverse range of web applications and local services and to create workflows efficiently. However, for those exploring other options, there are several notable Workato alternatives and competitors available in the market, each with its unique strengths and capabilities.
Related reads: Top 15 iPaaS Solutions & Platforms for Distributors 2023
Here’s a list of seven Workato alternatives to consider.
1. DCKAP Integrator
DCKAP Integrator is a cloud-based integration platform that streamlines every aspect of digital commerce integration, empowering you to sell smarter, more efficiently, and with greater speed.
This reliable, secure, and scalable solution acts as a bridge, facilitating the smooth flow of information among various data points, including ERP, CRM, eCommerce platforms, and more, ensuring data consistency and order.
DCKAP Integrator achieves this by creating multiple accessible microservices tunnels, connecting your applications seamlessly. This not only keeps all your systems synchronized but also reduces the need for manual intervention when troubleshooting any issues.
Streamlined Data Flow
DCKAP Integrator simplifies the flow of data and communication between different software systems, ensuring efficient operations.
The product comes with pre-built integrations (connectors) for major databases and common distribution applications, simplifying data integration from various sources.
It provides competitive pricing, ensuring affordability for distributors of all sizes without compromising on quality or utility, reducing maintenance costs.
DCKAP Integrator grows with your business, adapting to larger and more complex data integration needs as your company expands.
Speed and Efficiency
Automation features reduce manual data entry and editing, enhancing efficiency and accelerating data processing. This agility allows distributors to respond quickly to market changes and customer demands.
1. Versatile Integration: Integrators are capable of connecting software systems, databases, APIs, and platforms from diverse technology stacks.
2. Advanced Logging: Simplify record-keeping with automatic logging and backup of data exchanged with ERP and other systems.
3. Robust Data Security: Securely store files and data in the AWS cloud, complying with industry standards and guidelines to safeguard sensitive information.
4. User-Friendly Data Mapping: DCKAP Integrator offers user-friendly data mapping and modification features, making data integration accessible to non-technical users.
5. Transaction Security: Ensure the security of customer transactions and data through encryption and secure measures for added protection.
1. Customization Limits: Integrators might impose restrictions on your ability to customize the integration process to your exact needs.
2. Learning Curve: Using integrators could necessitate developers or administrators to become proficient in a new technology or platform.
3. Repetitive System Code: There might be redundancy in the system code when working with integrators.
DCKAP Integrator offers flexible and transparent pricing options to meet the diverse needs of businesses:
Standard: Priced at $599 per month when billed annually.
Professional: Available for $999 per month when billed annually.
Enterprise (Custom): The Enterprise tier provides a customized pricing arrangement tailored to your specific requirements.
Ideal for distribution businesses seeking automated integration and data consistency.
Serves small businesses and mid-market enterprises.
Streamlines digital commerce operations.
Enhances efficiency and reduces manual synchronization.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform connects data and applications for both cloud and on-premises setups. MuleSoft was established in 2006, and in 2018, it was acquired by Salesforce.
The platform provides a range of services and tools, including Composer, Studio, and more. MuleSoft boasts an extensive library of connectors and templates that are used by over 1600 organizations worldwide.
MuleSoft offers different products to handle various data integration scenarios. For simple data integration tasks without needing to write code, you can use Composer. However, for more complex data pipelines, Anypoint Studio is recommended.
MuleSoft has a very detailed interface, but it might be a bit tricky to learn at first.
MuleSoft is great because it comes with many ready-to-use connectors and can handle complex data tasks.
Big companies like using MuleSoft because it can handle a lot of work. It’s often the top choice for larger enterprises.
MuleSoft lets you customize things more, which is helpful for special or tricky situations.
You can use MuleSoft on your own computers, in the cloud, or a mix of both because it works with a component-based setup.
Support for Various Protocols
MuleSoft understands different ways of talking to other systems, like REST, SOAP, and GraphQL.
Advanced Data Transformation
MuleSoft is especially good at handling complicated data and can transform it in advanced ways.
1. Flexibility: MuleSoft is highly flexible and adaptable to various needs and situations.
2. Customized Contracts: MuleSoft provides annual contracts that can be tailored to the specific features and volume needed by each customer.
3. Integration with Salesforce and CRMs: MuleSoft works seamlessly with Salesforce and various Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, making data integration smooth.
4. Satisfactory DevOps Support: MuleSoft offers satisfactory support for DevOps practices, facilitating development and operations collaboration.
5. Centralized Integration: MuleSoft allows you to establish a centralized integration architecture that can support multiple applications and systems, simplifying data management and connectivity.
1. Complex Setup and Maintenance: Setting up, configuring, and maintaining MuleSoft can be complex and challenging, requiring technical expertise.
2. Cost for Small and Medium Businesses: MuleSoft can be expensive, making it less budget-friendly for small and medium-sized businesses.
3. Customization Challenges: Some aspects of the platform may pose challenges when attempting to customize them according to specific needs.
4. Integration Issues: Integrating MuleSoft with legacy systems or certain applications not supported by the platform can be troublesome and may require additional workarounds.
MuleSoft offers a 30-day free trial. When it comes to pricing, MuleSoft calculates costs based on customized quotes. The pricing is influenced by factors like the number of processing cores, the quantity of APIs and integrations, and the level of support needed. It’s worth mentioning that MuleSoft’s pricing structure tends to be a better fit for larger enterprises.
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform is a unified platform that encompasses iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service), automation, and universal API management.
Salesforce acquired MuleSoft in 2018, integrating it into Salesforce Integration Cloud.
MuleSoft follows an API-led approach to connectivity, focusing on creating application networks for efficient data exchange and integration.
Celigo is an iPaaS platform that automates data synchronization and system integration for cloud and on-premises services. It provides over 200 integration templates with pre-built data flows that can be customized to fit specific business needs.
Extensive Connector Support
Celigo offers support for over 200 connectors, including databases and various SaaS applications. The number of connectors you can use depends on your chosen plan.
The free plan allows for 2 endpoints or connectors in a single flow or integration, but for more extensive usage, upgrading to a paid plan is necessary.
Simple data transformations can be defined using rules, such as flattening JSON or XML structures and removing unwanted columns from the integration.
Training and Resources
Celigo provides access to a variety of resources and a supportive community. Users can benefit from free online training at Celigo University and live training sessions conducted by experts.
Responsive Customer Service
Celigo offers three customer success plans: Essential, Preferred, and Premier, each of which includes online resources, support tickets, chat support, and the assistance of a customer success manager.
1. Unlimited Concurrent Integrations: Celigo iPaaS allows for limitless concurrent integrations, data flows, and transactions, ensuring scalability.
2. Pre-built Automation and Best Practices: It offers pre-built automation and built-in best practices, streamlining the integration process.
3. User-Friendly Interface: Its user interface is simple, modern, and intuitive, featuring an easily navigable dashboard suitable for non-technical users.
4. Access Controls: Authorized members can access and develop integrations, ensuring security and control.
5. Non-Technical User Management: Non-technical users can handle day-to-day operations and maintenance, reducing the burden on technical teams.
6. Complex Data Transformation: The platform offers the capability to transform complex field mappings between multiple platforms into simplified flows.
1. Complex Cost Structure: The cost structure for adding new apps that require additional endpoints or flows can be intricate, potentially making it challenging to budget effectively.
2. Affordability Challenges: Implementation and ongoing costs may not be affordable for certain businesses, particularly those transitioning from basic setups.
3. Lack of Defined Deployment Process: Celigo iPaaS lacks a well-defined deployment process, which can make the setup and configuration less straightforward.
4. Programming Inflexibility: When it comes to programming, there may be limitations in handling tasks like looping and branching, reducing flexibility.
5. Learning Curve: Users may encounter a learning curve, especially when using Celigo University, which could be cumbersome for some.
6. Reliance on Third-party Connectors: The reliance on third-party connectors for integration with other applications can introduce potential reliability issues, including problems or downtime associated with those connectors.
7. Inadequate Technical Documentation: Technical documentation may not be comprehensive, particularly when dealing with custom integrations, potentially hindering the development process.
Celigo offers four pricing plans: Free, Professional, Premium, and Enterprise, with specific features available for each plan. The actual prices are not disclosed, so you need to contact their Sales team for a quote.
You can begin with a 30-day free trial of Celigo, which provides access to all features except the Sandbox environment for integration testing.
Utilizes AI (Artificial Intelligence) to pioneer automation and data mining before the trend became mainstream, recognized for innovation by industry analysts.
Supports various integration types, including applications, data, and B2B interactions.
Offers enterprise-grade data security and governance.
Enables automation of diverse processes throughout the organization.
Tray.io is an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) built for modern application integrations. It comprises two core offerings: Tray Platform and Tray Embedded.
Notably, Tray.io boasts a collaborative, low-code interface that caters to “citizen developers” or business users. This platform is primarily embraced by users who value an accessible tool with an extensive collection of pre-built solutions.
Its user-friendly, low-code approach empowers business users to independently create, manage, and integrate applications and workflows without requiring advanced coding skills.
Tray.io’s user-friendly dashboard is the central hub for managing your integration workflows, making it simple for all users to monitor and modify automation processes.
ETL – Extract / Transform / Load
Tray.io excels in ETL processes, simplifying data extraction, transformation, and loading, crucial for data migration and management.
Tray.io’s robust metadata tools organize and label your data, ensuring easy tracking and utilization within your integrations.
Multiple Data Sources
Tray.io easily connects and integrates data from diverse sources, be it databases, cloud apps, or on-premises systems.
Tray.io integrates with web services, enabling custom workflows for interacting with external applications and APIs, extending your integrations beyond internal systems.
1. User-Friendly Interface: Tray.io is known for its intuitive interface, allowing both technical and non-technical users to design and modify workflows easily through drag-and-drop functionality.
2. Strong Integration Capabilities: Tray.io excels at connecting various systems and applications, offering a wide array of connectors for popular services, streamlining data flow and reducing manual tasks.
3. Extensive Library of Pre-Built Connectors: Tray.io provides a vast library of ready-to-use connectors and workflows, saving time and effort in development and accelerating automation efforts.
4. Powerful Automation Features: Tray.io offers robust automation features, including conditional logic, data mapping, and error handling, enabling the creation of sophisticated and reliable workflows.
5. Scalability and Flexibility: Built for scalability, Tray.io can handle growing workloads, and its flexible architecture accommodates changing business needs.
6. Active Community Support: Tray.io has a dynamic user community that offers documentation, forums, and templates, fostering collaboration and providing resources for issue resolution and creative solutions.
1. Higher Pricing: Tray.io’s pricing structure may be comparatively high, potentially limiting access for smaller businesses on tight budgets.
2. Learning Curve for Complex Workflows: While user-friendly, creating intricate workflows with conditional branches and data transformations may require a deeper understanding of the platform, posing a learning curve.
3. Limited Customization: Tray.io, despite its pre-built components, has limitations in customization. Some businesses may require more granular control over their workflows.
4. Reliance on Third-Party Connectors: In cases where specific integrations are not readily available, businesses may need to rely on third-party or custom connectors, potentially adding complexity to their automation efforts.
Tray.io offers three pricing tiers primarily Pro, Team, Enterprise that aligns with different business needs and levels of automation practice. They provide unlimited workflows and usage-based pricing, allowing businesses to scale their automation initiatives effectively.
Tray.io is an AI-powered, multi-experience Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).
Speeds up integration from months to days, all within a single platform.
Eliminates the need for multiple tools and technologies by offering the Tray Universal Automation Cloud.
Underpinned by an Enterprise Core, providing foundational composability, elasticity, observability, governance, security, and control for scalable integrations and automations.
5. Dell Boomi
Dell Boomi is a cloud integration platform that facilitates the connection of data and people between cloud-based and on-premises applications.
It offers the capability to integrate a wide range of source-target combinations, whether they are on-premises or in the cloud. Boomi’s iPaaS integration tool allows users to extract, transform, and load data from source to target, while also enabling the management of B2B relationships, API design, workflow automation, and app development.
It empowers users to create and adapt cloud-based applications, eliminating the need for extensive coding, which is particularly advantageous for simpler applications and saves time.
Boomi offers a variety of connectors in a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. These connectors simplify integrations without requiring extensive coding knowledge.
Boomi includes built-in API management features for creating, managing, and monitoring APIs within the platform. While beneficial, they may not be as extensive as other platforms.
Boomi’s AtomSphere architecture allows deployment in private or public cloud and on-premises providing flexibility to suit your organization’s needs.
Master Data Management (MDM)
Boomi’s MDM capabilities, found in its Master Data Hub, ensure data consistency and accuracy, enhancing integration efficiency and data quality. It also offers data governance features like data quality, profiling, and lineage for better data control.
Boomi provides a community for users to find support, documentation, and learning resources. It offers online and instructor-led training to empower users with platform skills.
1. Full Stack Security: Boomi ensures comprehensive security for your data with a three-tier framework, safeguarding against potential threats both on-premises and in the cloud.
2. Data Quality and Management: Boomi simplifies data analysis, breaking down barriers and boosting efficiency. It provides centralized data quality, governance, real-time data flow, analytics, and integration mapping.
3. Intelligent Platform: Boomi streamlines processes, enhancing profitability by offering smart suggestions. It collects insights from users, providing features like automated data mapping, connector configuration, error resolution, and regression testing.
4. Connection-Based Pricing: Pay for the initial license and unique connections only, without extra charges for application or technology connectors used in each connection.
5. Frequent Updates: Boomi offers monthly updates, reducing the workload on your IT team and keeping the platform up to date with the latest features.
1. Pricing Concerns: Users have raised concerns about Boomi’s pricing and licensing, which may not align with specific organizational needs or budget considerations.
2. Customer Support: Some users feel that Boomi’s customer support services could be improved, and it’s essential to evaluate if the available support meets an organization’s expectations.
3. Error Reporting and Troubleshooting: Boomi’s error reporting and troubleshooting capabilities have received complaints. Users may struggle to efficiently identify and resolve issues, impacting integration processes.
4. Inefficient Filtering: Boomi’s filtering function may require complex definitions, leading to inefficiencies, especially with large volumes of data.
5. Integration Challenges with DevOps: Boomi’s integration processes may not seamlessly align with existing DevOps environments, potentially requiring additional effort and adjustments to fit within established practices.
Dell Boomi offers monthly billing starting at a rate of $549 per month for its plans. Additionally, they provide a 30-day free trial, allowing businesses to explore and evaluate the platform before committing to a plan. This flexible pricing approach allows organizations to choose the plan that best suits their needs and seamlessly scale their integration solutions as they expand, making it adaptable to a variety of integration scenarios.
The Boomi AtomSphere Platform automates business processes, enabling faster integration across your entire connected business.
Excels in cloud-based data integration, providing seamless connections for businesses of all sizes.
Offers diverse pricing options, catering to organizations with various integration needs.
Boomi simplifies ETL processes, streamlining data transformation and migration.
Related reads: Top 6 Dell Boomi Alternatives & Competitors for iPaaS 
Informatica is an excellent alternative to Workato. It’s a cloud-based data integration platform designed to help organizations efficiently manage and transfer data.
Informatica is considered an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) provider, offering tailored solutions for enterprises. Their product lineup caters to integration requirements in both cloud and on-premises settings. Notable products include Informatica PowerCenter and the Intelligent Data Management Cloud platform.
Proficient in designing ETL mapping for handling large data volumes.
Offers diverse built-in features for data mapping and pipeline management. Allows data transformation using SQL and Python without complex coding.
SaaS Sources Support
Connects to 80+ Software as a Service (SaaS) sources for seamless cloud-based data integration.
Supports data replication from source to target databases, including full and incremental replication with change data capture.
Facilitates secure data sharing and collaboration via its cloud platform.
Provides a toolkit, including a REST API, Informatica Developer Tool, and Connector Toolkit, for customizing and extending the platform to meet unique integration needs.
1. High Efficiency and Reliability: A highly efficient and reliable data integration tool.
2. Scalability: Easily expandable to accommodate growing data needs.
3. Stability: Known for its stability and robust performance.
4. Data Type Support: Supports a wide range of industry-standard data types.
5. Complex Transformation Handling: Efficiently manages complex lookup transformations.
6. Multiuser Client-Server Development: Provides a multiuser client-server development interface.
7. User-Friendly: Easy to use and learn, making it accessible for users of varying expertise levels.
1. Lacks Data Quality Feature: It lacks a built-in data quality feature, requiring data quality management to be handled programmatically.
2. No Web Integration Feature: Informatica does not offer web integration capabilities, limiting certain integration options.
3. Mapping Interface Only: PowerCenter generates mappings solely through a graphical user interface (GUI), without the ability to generate code, which might be a limitation for some users.
Informatica’s pricing model consists of two versions to cater to diverse user requirements. The Professional Edition, priced at $8,000 per person per year, is designed for enterprises with extensive data management needs, offering a comprehensive solution.
On the other hand, the Personal Edition is available for free, making it an ideal option for individuals or smaller organizations seeking to leverage Informatica’s capabilities without incurring costs. This pricing approach ensures accessibility and flexibility for a broad spectrum of users, regardless of their data management scale and budget constraints.
Used for data operations and transformations.
Handles data from various sources, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured.
Supports scheduling data operations.
Preserves metadata for processes and data operations.
Jitterbit is a versatile integration and low-code platform used for connecting different apps and data sources. It simplifies business processes by offering a range of integration and development capabilities, including API management, EDI, and low-code application development. This platform facilitates seamless connections between various systems and is a strong Workato alternative.
Accelerated Project Timelines
Jitterbit helps streamline projects by connecting applications and APIs in just a few days, significantly reducing project timelines.
Enterprise Project Management
The Jitterbit web management console (WMC) enables administrators to remotely manage integration projects across the enterprise.
Intuitive Integration Creation
Jitterbit’s graphical design studio offers a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop features, making it easy to create integration processes.
Proactive Issue Management
Easy-to-use dashboards and alert settings allow you to identify and resolve issues before they escalate into major problems.
Universal Data Integration
Jitterbit seamlessly connects all your data systems, whether they are cloud-based, on-premises, or SaaS applications.
Salesforce Data Management
With Jitterbit Salesforce, you can efficiently manage big data, including bulk loading, querying, updating, deleting, and inserting new data.
Data Quality Assurance
Jitterbit provides data cleansing and smart reconstruction tools, eliminating the need for manual data manipulation and ensuring clean data in your system.
1. User-Friendly Workflow Creation: Easily build automated workflows with a visual, low-code dashboard for seamless cross-platform visibility.
2. Abundant Pre-Built Templates: Access 400+ templates to automate workflows, boosting data quality without the complexity.
3. ETL Capabilities: Transfer bulk data across sales channels using Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) specifications.
4. Data Cleansing and Transformation: Effortlessly clean and transfer data between systems with smart tools.
5. Customizable APIs: Tailor and enhance APIs for specific use cases with ease.
6. Robust Security Framework: Benefit from comprehensive security, covering networks, applications, and data.
7. Industry-Standard Compliance: Comply with GDPR, ISO 27001, SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and more, ensuring safety and security.
1. Learning Complexity: Jitterbit’s extensive features can complicate the learning process, requiring more time and resources for onboarding.
2. Setup Ambiguity: Jitterbit lacks clear indicators for identifying setup issues, potentially causing delays and user frustration.
3. Version Control Absence: The platform doesn’t offer built-in version control for objects, making it hard to manage integration versions and collaborate effectively.
4. Complex Advanced Transformations: While basic tasks are easy, advanced transformations may require substantial effort to master.
5. Limited Logging: Jitterbit’s logging has limitations, lacking rich text formatting and alternative formats, potentially hindering post-runtime analysis.
6. Cost: Jitterbit may be considered expensive, which can be problematic for budget-constrained organizations.
Jitterbit Harmony pricing is straightforward and scalable, allowing you to pay only for the features you need. It offers three pricing tiers:
Standard: Professional, and Enterprise. The cost is mainly determined by the number of endpoints you want to connect, with each connection, like Salesforce and NetSuite, counting as two endpoints.
The Standard Edition supports up to three users, while the Enterprise Edition supports up to eight users. Once configured, you can transfer data across various connections without limitations.
Jitterbit offers high-performance ETL capabilities with parallel processing, reducing project timelines significantly.
The platform provides robust data cleansing and reconstruction tools, simplifying data management and quality.
Jitterbit users highly praise the platform for its reliability, ease of doing business, and user-friendly interface.
Competitive pricing makes Jitterbit an attractive choice in the iPaaS market.
The Best Workato Alternative for Distributors – DCKAP Integrator
DCKAP Integrator emerges as the preferred choice for distributors, offering a comprehensive solution tailored to address the distinct requirements of this industry. As a distributor, you can benefit greatly from this innovative platform, and here’s why:
First and foremost, DCKAP Integrator has been meticulously designed to align with the unique and complex needs of distributors. It recognizes the challenges and intricacies of this sector, positioning itself as a game-changer in the competitive iPaaS market.
One of the standout features is its seamless integration and data queuing, putting an end to inconsistencies and hassles. What truly distinguishes DCKAP Integrator is its flexibility. Distributors can customize it to meet their precise requirements, seamlessly integrating multiple systems and personalizing workflows. With DCKAP Integrator, you’re in control, making sure things operate just the way you envision.
Outstanding customer support is another feather in our cap. We understand the importance of having a reliable partner on your integration journey. DCKAP’s centralized integration solution offers responsive support at every step, ensuring you’re never alone in this process.
But don’t just take our word for it – our users are our best advocates! Book a free demo session today to experience the transformation firsthand.