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A Preview of Appian Portals - A new way to engage with customers

Rena Stern, Director of Product Marketing, Appian
September 14, 2021

When searching for information or taking action through a public website, end users don’t want to be held back by cumbersome logins or identification requirements. Meanwhile, the organizations on the back end need to be able to quickly and easily create and scale these websites in response to spikes in usage, without compromising security or system performance.

Addressing these pain points has been easier said than done—until development of low-code portals, that is. Bringing the power of low-code to portal development has been the most requested feature by Appian customers, and we’ve been hard at work bringing this functionality to life.

We’re excited to share highlights from this journey at Appian Europe. In the meantime, here’s a quick overview and teaser of highlights from our presentation.

What Appian Portals is

Appian Founder and CEO Matt Calkins describes Appian Portals as “the new way to connect Appian applications and external users.” One developer involved in beta testing said enthusiastically, “This is the most fun I’ve had with Appian.”

In short, Appian Portals is a new way to use Appian to build public experiences for anonymous users—at scale and with anyone, anywhere, any time. It uses microservices architecture for high performance and elastic scaling. It eliminates painful high-code workarounds by making the first step of many critical workflows public. And it offers wide-ranging integration and connectivity. For example, these low-code portals use web services to reach external systems, connect to Appian data sources for reading and writing data, and leverage HTTP integrations to reach Web APIs for running queries or starting processes on Appian environments.

Why we’re designing Appian Portals

You can think of Appian Portals as a new “front door” for public-facing apps and a means to bring low-code scale and security to public sites.

It extends what organizations can do with the Appian platform and increases the value of their investment by supporting a wide range of use cases. Just a few examples include:

  • Insurance industry activities like quotes, claims, and first notice of loss
  • Financial services activities like opening accounts and paying bills
  • Public comments and searchable public records
  • Public sector functions like public service notifications, grant applications, citizen complaints, and surveys
  • Appointment scheduling and registration, from COVID-19 vaccines to university site tours

Where we are in the process

We’re currently in the beta stage of portal development, which means we’re collecting feedback and having customers apply the functionality to real-world projects and problems.

Right now, beta users are creating public interfaces using Appian Designer, then using our Publishing Manager app to define name, branding, and which interfaces to publish. For our initial release, we plan to offer the ability to publish individual interfaces as Public Portals through the Publishing Manager app.

Based on beta testing and developer feedback, the initial release will be SOC2-compliant, support anonymous public forms, and offer a wide range of connections: to REST endpoints on the internet, to cloud databases, and to the Appian platform via Web APIs.

Appian Portals in action

So, how has everything been going so far? We’ve been fortunate to have several Appian customers try Appian Portals out during the beta phase by applying them to real-world challenges. The results have been encouraging.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America used Appian Portals to register convention attendees. Over 1,000 people were able to sign up through this custom-built website with a built-in database—error-free—with no requests for assistance on the front end or time-consuming data extraction on the back end.

You’ll learn more at Appian Europe, as well as how another Appian customer, Accenture, used our portal functionality to build an anonymous complaint submission form for one of its own clients.

Organizations are also discovering this new tool’s power for data transparency. Telefonica, for instance, uses Appian Portals to let customers review what information the telecom has stored about them. In another example, the US Department of Education used Appian Portals to create a public record of Impact Aid grant payments for local education agencies. 

For more details on these projects, developer feedback, and this exciting work in progress, sign up for this session on September 15 at Appian Europe.