CEO Keynote At Appian World 2012

Matt Calkins, CEO of Appian, spoke about how they are achieving their goal to be the world’s best way to organize work.

Key features that they have to support this:

  • Native mobile capabilities on iOS, Blackberry and Android, meaning that you can develop your applications once and have it run not just on a desktop browser, but on any mobile device.
  • Transparent platform portability, allowing an Appian application to be easily moved between on-premise, public cloud and private cloud.
  • Social interface to minimize training and be able to more easily track events, primarily through a participatory event streaming paradigm.

Their software sales increased in 2011 by over 200% with 95 new customers (not just expansions in existing customers), and they have 95% “very satisfied” customer satisfaction rating.

The typical Appian customer runs about 10 applications, but Appian’s goal is to actually reduce the number of applications that a customer has (who wants more apps in their enterprise, after all?) by linking the data, actions and users in the application silos into a common environment. In fact, their theme for this year is data, which they see treated as a second-class citizen in many systems, and he switched over to a demo of the upcoming Appian 7 to show how they are combining data from multiple applications and sources into their event stream.

The new Appian interface is organized into five tabs:

  • News, which is the familiar event stream, but with the much richer links and attachments from other sources. Adding a comment to the stream can be just a comment, or can be turned into a task that can be assigned and tracked. What do I need to know?
  • Tasks, which are the tasks sent to the active user, or that they created and assigned to someone else. These can be filtered by type, can can be sorted by deadlines and priorities. What do I need to do?
  • Records, aka data, which shows a list of data sources: client records, support tickets, employees, whatever is important to this user. These may be Appian applications or external data sources such as relational databases. He drilled into the Clients data source, which provided several ways to filter and search in the client application, then selected one client to show the collection of information about that client: basic contact data, sales satisfaction survey results, ticket history, sales opportunities and more. The interface is customizable both during the initial setup, but also on the fly by any user with permissions to do so. Beyond the summary page for that client, there’s a news feed for all items tagged with this client, then links for each of the applications that might have information on that client: projects, billing history and sales opportunities. A related records tab allows connections to other data sources, such as support cases, that are linked to that client, allowing you to navigate through a web of data in your enterprise, much as we navigate the internet by following links on a whim. Lastly, a related actions tab allows you to launch any of the related applications for this client, such as starting a new contract or schedule an onsite visit.
  • Reports, showing enhanced reporting capabilities with new abilities to sort and customize reports.
  • Actions, which links to all applications in the enterprise, allowing you to launch any application from a single point.

Furthermore, there are new Facebook/Twitter-like functions to subscribe to people within your organization, see their profile information that they have posted including their job skills, and add kudos (LinkedIn-like recommendations) for individuals. This is similar to what IBM has been doing with their Beehive social network internally: it’s a way to enable collaboration within the enterprise as well as tracking of employee skills and recommendations. In order to have this sort of enterprise-wise social network, however, everyone needs an Appian license, so they are coming up with new licensing model for what they’re calling Appian tempo that will allow this type of access to social, mobile and data (but not actions) at a much lower cost than a regular Appian user. In fact, it’s free, if you have any other Appian (paid) licenses, and if you install and use it within a year.

As always, pretty innovative stuff coming from Appian.

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