Organizations across industries are digitally transforming—leveraging software to automate and optimize mission-critical operations, enhance customer experiences and drive competitive differentiation. Software has revolutionized mass transportation, drug development, business-customer interactions, and operational management.
Software has evolved from being a method for modernization to an opportunity for differentiation. Several key trends are fueling software-enabled digital transformation, including the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things, and the proliferation of mobile devices. Decision makers increasingly recognize the need to capitalize on these trends.
Historically, organizations have relied on packaged and custom software solutions to operationalize and automate their businesses. Packaged software often fails to address unusual use cases or to enable differentiation and requires organizations to conform their individual processes, needs, and systems of record to standardized frameworks.
While traditional custom software solutions can be differentiated and tailored to meet strategic objectives, development requires a long, iterative, cumbersome process, costly integration, and relies on scarce developer talent.
Appian has built a PaaS business model to enable organizations to differentiate themselves from their competition through software-enabled digital transformation. How? In this strategy story, we decoded the business model of Appian and understood what does Appian do and how does low code platform of Appian work.
What is Appian? What does Appian do?
Appian Corporation, founded in 1999, is a cloud computing and enterprise software company that sells a platform as a service (PaaS) for building enterprise software applications. Appian has built a business model around low-code development, process mining, business process management, and case management.
Appian provides a low-code platform that accelerates the creation of high-impact business applications and workflows, enabling customers to automate the most important aspects of their business. Organizations use Appian’s applications to improve customer experience, achieve operational excellence, and simplify global risk management and compliance.
Appian enables organizations to differentiate themselves from their competition through software-enabled digital transformation. Appian’s low-code platform employs an intuitive visual interface and pre-built development modules that reduce the time required to build powerful and unique applications.
Appian’s platform automates the creation of forms, workflows, data structures, reports, user interfaces, and other software elements that would otherwise need to be manually coded. This functionality dramatically reduces the iterative development process, allowing for real-time optimization and ultimately shortening the time it takes to design, build, and deploy applications.
Appian’s customers take advantage of its process mining, workflow engine, dynamic case management, and complete automation capabilities, which include Appian’s rules engine, native Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, native Intelligent Document Processing, or IDP, artificial intelligence, or AI, and Smart Services.
Organizations use Appian’s platform to launch new business lines, build large procurement systems, manage retail store layouts, conduct predictive maintenance on field equipment, optimize supply chain logistics, and manage trading platforms, among a range of other use cases.
As of December 2021, Appian had 816 customers in various industries, of which 635 were commercial and 181 were government or non-commercial entities. Appian’s customers include financial services, government, life sciences, insurance, manufacturing, energy, healthcare, telecommunications, and transportation organizations.
How does the Low-code platform of Appian work?
To understand how the low-code platform of Appian works, let’s analyze the key elements.
Appian’s heritage as a BPM company provides Appian with a differentiated understanding and ability to discover, design, and automate complex processes. Appian has incorporated that expertise into its platform to enable the development of powerful business software.
- Workflow: At the core of Appian’s platform is an advanced engine that enables the modeling, modification, and management of complex processes. Appian combines people, technologies, and data into a single workflow to maximize resources and improve business results.
- Automation: Appian’s complete automation capabilities allow companies to quickly combine people, systems, and data in a seamless workflow to deliver meaningful business impact.
- Process Mining: Appian Process Mining discovers how to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and optimize processes. Appian removes the single largest friction point in process mining, enabling customers to spend more time improving and automating workflows. Appian Process Mining features a no-code module that simplifies the preparation and transformation of enterprise data.
Web-Based Development Environment
The Appian design interface is a model-driven, web-based development environment for application creation, testing, deployment, and performance optimization. Appian design is a shared repository of all Appian components (interfaces, process models, APIs, new component builders, and user collaboration modules). It serves as an administration utility for managing people, processes, and data.
The Appian design repository incorporates design and DevOps best practices and years of lessons learned from digital transformation initiatives. Common development operations tasks require just a few clicks and can be automated for hands-off deployment, leading to improvements in developer productivity.
Appian’s Patented SAIL Technology
SAIL is Appian’s patented technology that allows developers to create dynamic and responsive web and native-mobile user interfaces through a “build once, deploy everywhere” architecture. SAIL interfaces only need to be created once, and SAIL automatically assembles customer applications for optimal viewing on each device type.
SAIL leverages native functionality inherent across a myriad of devices and operating systems to ensure the consistency of experience and optimal performance levels users expect. Updates to applications developed with SAIL are automatically disseminated across device types to ensure all users benefit from the most up-to-date functionality.
This approach enables enterprise mobility without the extensive time and resources other development approaches require.
User Interfaces for All
- Unified employee interface: Appian’s end-user interfaces enable users to discover data, collaborate with other end users, and participate in process actions. End users can collaborate with others, obtain status updates, send direct and secure messages, and create social tasks for other end users, solving the problem of information silos.
- Customer experience: Appian Portals securely connect external users to apps without authentication. It allows users to quickly build public websites connected to their apps using low code in a way that is easy to scale and manage.
Appian Low-Code Data is an advanced data management technology that allows end users to discover and unite enterprise data into a single searchable environment, providing a comprehensive view of an organization’s data. Appian Low-Code Data gives users an immediate snapshot of all centralized data relating to common business activities such as customer, product, employee, or service requests.
What is the business model of Appian?
Powerful applications to solve critical and complex challenges: The core of Appian’s platform is an advanced engine that enables the modeling, modification, and management of complex processes and business rules, leveraging its expertise as a business process management, or BPM, company.
Rapid innovation: Appian’s platform employs a low-code, intuitive visual interface, and pre-built development modules that reduce the time required to build powerful and unique applications. This functionality greatly reduces the iterative development process, allowing for real-time optimization and ultimately shortening the time it takes to design, build, and deploy applications.
Integrated process mining: Integrating process mining into Appian’s platform alongside workflow and automation delivers significant additional value by reducing the number of steps and time from insight to action.
Automate with one platform: Appian’s complete automation capabilities allow companies to combine people, systems, and data in a seamless workflow to deliver meaningful business impact quickly.
Seamless integration with existing systems and data: Appian’s platform does not require data to reside within it to enable data analysis or cross-department and cross-application insight. Customers can access and orchestrate data from internal and external sources without needing to migrate data. This reduces data migration complexity and time to value.
Partner Strategy of Appian
Appian has a strong and growing ecosystem of partners that helps accelerate Appian’s customers’ digital transformation initiatives and deliver customer value at scale. Appian’s workflow, broader automation, and discovery capabilities, paired with Appian’s partners’ industry and functional domain experience, help companies digitally transform their business.
Partners also help Appian offer industry-focused solutions, allowing companies to drive new approaches to engage their end users and employees. Appian has many strategic partnerships worldwide, including with companies such as KPMG, Accenture, PwC, Infosys, Wipro, and Deloitte.
These partners refer software subscription customers to Appian. Generally, they perform professional services with respect to any new service contracts they originate, increasing Appian’s subscription revenue without any change to Appian’s professional services revenue.
Appian made $369.3 Million in 2021. Appian has a PaaS business model. Appian generates revenue primarily through sales of subscriptions to Appian’s platform and professional services. Appian generally sells its software on a per-user basis or through non-user-based single application licenses. Appian’s revenue comprises Subscriptions and professional services.
Subscriptions contributed $263.7 million to Appian’s revenue in 2021. Subscriptions revenue is primarily derived from the following:
- SaaS subscriptions bundled with maintenance and support and hosting services; and
- On-premises term license subscriptions bundled with maintenance and support.
A significant portion of Appian’s revenue is generated from subscriptions sold to governmental entities in the United States and internationally. Additionally, many of Appian’s current and prospective customers, such as those in the financial services, insurance, life sciences, and healthcare industries, are highly regulated and may be required to comply with more stringent regulations concerning subscribing to and implementing Appian’s platform.
Appian’s professional services revenue is comprised of fees for consulting services, including application development, deployment assistance, and training related to Appian’s platform. Appian has several strategic partnerships with KPMG, Accenture, PwC, Infosys, Wipro, and Deloitte.
These partners refer software subscription customers to Appian. Generally, they perform professional services with respect to any new service contracts they originate, increasing Appian’s subscription revenue without any change to Appian’s professional services revenue. Professional services contributed $106 million to Appian’s revenue in 2021.
Results of Operations
As per Appian’s 2021 annual report,