Appian Forum: Matt Calkins

Appian’s CEO was up for the only vendor executive presentation of the conference, to discuss Appian and its community of customers and partners. As a somewhat late entrant to the BPM market, they had only about 15 customers in 2004 growing to almost 80 (active) customers in 2007, and expanded from a primarily government focus to include many other industry verticals.

Appian’s view of BPM is that although it’s becoming mainstream, email still owns 99% of what could be the BPM space through the implementation of ad hoc processes. Because of that, it’s essential for BPMS to easy for all types of users — both designers and end users — and provide very little resistance to adoption. A fully web-based product suite is one part of this, and Appian is one of the few vendors to provide a web-based process designer, and their move into a hosted model reduces the frictional costs further. He discussed a number of their technical innovations, stating “we didn’t do this just because we’re nerds”, but sees them as essential to providing a good BPMS.

With the downturn in the US market, Appian and other vendors are being forced to look outside their borders for new customers, and finding — surprise! — that there are significant international opportunities. Their EMEA sales grew by over 300% year-over-year, and they’re seeing more potential business there.

He also announced Appian ShareBase, a wiki (his word, but actually more of a shared repository) of code objects pertaining to Appian, including process models, rules, smart nodes and any other design objects that can be shared, all of it available free for other Appian customers to reuse. Appian will be seeding ShareBase with a substantial amount of their own intellectual property. No word on the licensing ramifications here, but based on the “free to reuse” statement, I assume that it’s pretty open.

He also discussed their new partnership with MEGA for process modeling and enterprise architecture, more of which will be discussed later in the day.

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