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Low-Code Automation: How All Applications Will Be Built in the Future

Roland Alston, Appian
May 12, 2020

McLean, VA Greetings from Appian World 2020. The action officially kicked off this morning with a timely keynote from Appian founder and CEO Matt Calkins who shared his vision for low-code automation and positioning organizations to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We've seen every organization now having to come up with an application that will get their employees back to work in a safe and deliberate and careful fashion. We've learned now that an application can shape the fate of an organization and that the most important application you write in any given year might be an application you only have a few weeks to write. Now, if that's the case, I believe that every business in the world should have a low code automation platform," said Calkins.

Amid the coronavirus recession, businesses are continuing to chart a course to digital transformation. But the pandemic won't wait for organizations to adapt. Companies have to be more agile than ever before. The stakes are higher this year because of the pandemic and a shrinking economy.

"These are strange times," said Calkins, "but Appian's goal is to help our customers emerge from the outbreak better and stronger than ever."

Much of the country remains under lockdown to contain COVID. But as the pandemic pummels the economy, shredding profits and millions of jobs, companies are looking for a platform for change.

"This is the time for low-code automation," said Calkins. "It's all the more important in the coronavirus crisis to be able to build applications quickly.We've just started a new decade, but low-code is how applications will be built in the future. It's inevitable," said Calkins. "We have to build applications more efficiently."

But technical debt is a major burden for many organizations. Calkins said the problem (the cost of maintaining and updating legacy applications) can waste as much as 75% of a company's application development resources.The problem is getting exponentially worse, he said.

COVID showed us that low-code can help organizations adapt to massive disruption by quickly combining human and digital labor in the same workflow. This is what makes low-code essential to surviving and thriving in the COVID new normal.

"I think one of the biggest takeaways from COVID," said Calkins, "is that organizations must be able to quickly adapt to sudden and massive change.The pandemic is a health crisis first, but it's an economic crisis as well. In this recession as in every downturn, there's going to be winners and losers. And companies that get more aggressive about embracing low-code automation will be better positioned to win," said Calkins.

There's a growing number of news reports about states beginning to relax business lockdowns. On the other hand, many companies are anxious about reopening. The good news companies coping with the pandemic is that Appian's Low-code Automation Platform can help them deliver business value faster than ever before.

"A multitude of businesses have relied on Appian to get through the COVID crisis, said Calkins. "And, and you know, for years we've been talking about how important it is to be able to change, how essential it is to be agile, right? And finally, an event (COVID) happened that forced us to actually live up to those words. And one of the ways that we helped companies get through this crisis was by building applications, said Calkins."

Calkins said that Appian built three applications in the past two months and rolled them out to demonstrate the agility that's possible with a low-code automation platform. He said the applications were a good indicator of what Appian has been able to do to help its customers adapt to the pandemic.

"So, the first application (which launched in March) rapidly became the most popular launch in the history of Appian," said Calkins. "It's about responding to COVID-19 and tracking an employer's workforce. Our next application coordinates small business loans in the U.S. and some leading banks are using it now. My favorite thing about this application is the way it showcases the power of automation."

"It uses artificial intelligence to read loan applications, robotic process automation to upload them to a government portal, and people to manage compliance. This is the North Star of automation," said Calkins.