How Appian Is Gaining BPM Marketshare by Using 'Low-Code' Approach

Appian's cloud management system and set of applications is deployed by high-end players across a number of industries that include financial services, insurance, health care, life sciences and the public sector.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Appian, a BPM (business process management) unicorn that doesn't care that it's a unicorn, is staging its ecosystem conference this week at the Hyatt Regency, talking about moving its customers to the cloud and releasing a new version of its cloud platform software.

In case you're not familiar, the business version of "unicorn" signifies a privately held startup that has been valuated at $1 billion or more by people purporting to be able to do that. The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, who selected the mythical animal to represent the statistical rarity of such successful ventures.

Appian is a highly successful business process management software provider whose software can run in a data center or in a cloud deployment. Appian's cloud management system and set of applications is deployed by some high-end players across a number of industries that include financial services, insurance, health care, life sciences and the public sector.

Goldman Sachs is a longtime customer. That should tell you a lot about Appian, which is confident enough in its security processes that it is busy persuading other banks, hedge funds and various other financials to put aside their reservations about moving their important information into a system outside their own walls.

Low-Code: Parallel to Citizen Development

Appian is about something it calls "low-code," which means it is offering software that's very complicated under the hood yet makes the user interface simple enough for line-of-business employees to use. With Appian, non-IT folks can build and customize standard business applications and make them directly relevant to the business they do every day--at their desks or on location somewhere else. Drop-down menus and wizards used in an intuitive fashion are the keys to low-code.

Low-code is parallel to something we've been covering in eWEEK lately: citizen development, in which non-IT personnel at companies are able to customize all or parts of a business application in order to make using it a better, more satisfying experience for everybody concerned.

On the product side, the 18-year-old Reston, Va.-based company on April 4 introduced a new edition of its low-code platform that contains a series of enhancements. These include innovative new design capabilities, interface usability and flexibility, in adition to an enhanced Appian online community experience.

Last year, the company launched its Quick Apps feature, a zero-code tool for jump-starting enterprise solutions and enabling citizen developers. On April 4, Appian added a way to ease business logic and enterprise integrations through its new Decision Designer and Integration Designer.

Appian Decision Designer is designed to make it easy for non-technical people to compose the complex business logic that drives intelligent business processes. Appian Integration Designer aims to enable users to create re-usable integration points across enterprise systems in an intuitive low-code design manner. In addition, with new emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation, Appian intends to exhibit seamless integration to apply these new work models within the Appian platform.

It's All About Agile Development

Appian is all about agile development--constantly refreshing apps as often as necessary to keep them sharp and as effective as possible.

"Appian a good way to future proof your enterprise," CEO and founder Matt Calkins (pictured) told about 1,500 attendees of the conference. "If you're not updating fresh all the time, you begin to fall into the past. Your app must always stay urgent and current. Nobody has time to bear the burden of a dead application."

Using the Appian package, organizations can expand ideas into full-scale applications and evolve applications over time as new requirements emerge. Benefits of these new applications include faster time-to-market, instant mobility, native cloud architecture, increased productivity, cost savings, incremental revenue and improved customer engagement.

Companies can automate rote manual tasks to create complex enterprise applications that actually impact the bottom line; thus Appian can become an important component of a company's digital transformation strategy.

About That Unicorn Designation

As for the unicorn label, Calkins was pretty point-blank about what he thinks of it.

"We are not for sale, so who cares what we are worth," Calkins told Computer Business Review a few months ago about his company’s recent unicorn status.

Appian is a company to which he's dedicated his life for the last 20-plus years, so it's no wonder he isn't interested in divesting it.

“I don’t take this too seriously, and I don’t think anyone should," Calkins said. "I worry about customer value and I’ll let someone else decide whether we are a unicorn. I think more important things about Appian is what good we do for our constituents–which is to say customers, partners, employees, stockholders and anyone who follows our example. We have always been optimizing for those instead of for valuation."

Reuters has identified more than a dozen U.S. enterprise software companies that are making preparations for a 2017 IPO:

--ForeScout Technologies Inc.
--Okta Inc.
--Appian Corporation
--LogRhythm Inc.
--Carbon Black Inc.
--Greenwave Systems

For more information about Appian, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...