Software vendors like it when customers sign up for regular upgrades. Well, obviously they do. Regular upgrades lead to regular income from regularly billed software license contracts. But software vendors also like to see customers regularly upgrade because it means they can keep the customer running more closely in line with their own technology roadmap.
If customers stay close to their software vendors’ roadmaps, then (in theory at least) they will have performed fewer hard-coded customizations, the presence of which can lead them to be less inclined to adopt new platform upgrades when they become available.
Configuration vs customization
These home truths mean that software companies will typically try very hard to provide lots of functionality in the products they release. When software ships with plenty of functionality, customers can perform configurations rather than customizations — and configuration is a whole lot less messy than customization.
Carrying this trend onwards, the rise of so-called low-code software platforms has given organizations a means of automating many of the configuration tasks that they would still have to shoulder, many of which would be considered something of a headache.
Appian claims to have engineered low-code/no-code platform capabilities in its latest platform release to allow organizations to build powerful enterprise applications up to 20x faster. For its latest low-code platform release, Appian has focused on capabilities in key areas including integration, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), interface design, enterprise mobility and customer engagement — all of which would represent configuration and integration time for most organizations
“Organizations want to spend less time configuring and integrating data so they can accelerate delivery of applications that enhance customer experience and improve operational performance,” said Malcolm Ross, VP of product at Appian. “Our [latest software] release is a milestone that firmly brings integration and RPA into the world of low-code/no-code development and expands Appian’s mission to simplify the creation of powerful applications.”
Robotic Process Automation
For the record, Robotic Process Automation in the context it is being used here is a means of capturing and recording (and then coding) human actions performed in specific applications, databases, analytics tools and other software using ‘software robots’ that monitor a user’s interactions. The RPA robot can then be programmed to perform those same actions automatically for any given situation.
Appian says that its latest software version accelerates the integration of third-party systems and data through its new Integration Software Development Kit (SDK), allowing for the creation of no-code integrations plug-ins by Appian customers and partners. Using this new framework, Appian RPA with software from UK-based RPA specialist Blue Prism now features no-code integration to incorporate a digital workforce of robots into Appian.
“We are delighted to be working with Appian to drive the adoption of intelligent automation,” said Linda Dotts, SVP global partner strategy and programs for Blue Prism. “Appian RPA with Blue Prism now makes it very easy for anyone using Appian to incorporate digital workers (i.e. software robots) into their business processes or applications”
This release also expands Appian’s SAIL (Self-Assembling Interface Layer) framework, a piece of software that allows user interfaces to be intelligently generated from a data model. Appian says that this is a true no-code experience that automatically builds interfaces directly from customer data. Application designers can then immediately use that interface or apply it as the starting point for user interface refinement.
The road to no-code low-code
It is always important to remember that low-code (and even no-code) software engineering still takes a lot of training, skill and technical dexterity. But as complex as it still is, there is clearly (obviously) a trend running through the technology industry to apply as much Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) advancement as possible… and RPA functions in low-code software platforms is a perfect example of this in motion.
What next from Appian in automation terms then?
Apps that monitor your interactions to tell you how stressful your user actions are so that you sit back, log off and take a break. Yes please Appian, do that, make that one, please.