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Dispelling the Hype of AI Process Automation: Appian Government 2023 Keynote

Shari Ingerman, Appian Public Sector
December 13, 2023

Discussions about AI could be heard throughout the 7th annual Appian Government event, held November 29, 2023 at Capital One Hall in Tysons, Virginia. 

At breakfast, a customer sitting next to me mentioned how he’s looking forward to hearing how AI can help mine his historical data. “And securely,” another added. In a lunchtime conversation, yet another customer told me about the productive meeting they had with Appian on incorporating AI into their processes. 

If customers, prospects, and partners came to hear how Appian can enhance their applications with AI, then Appian Government did not disappoint. 

[ Watch the recorded sessions from Appian Government 2023. ]

In his opening remarks, Appian CEO Matt Calkins presented Appian’s AI strategy and how we’re implementing AI into our platform solutions. Below are some highlights.

What AI is not.

AI isn’t a standalone technology.

AI isn't meant to work alone—it needs to be incorporated into processes. AI needs data for fuel. That’s because its effectiveness relies on integration with existing workflows, data streams, and contextual understanding. By embedding AI into established systems, organizations can use its capabilities to streamline operations, make data-driven decisions, and enhance overall efficiency. Integrating also helps AI models keep learning and adapting to changing situations, making sure they stay relevant and perform well as time goes on.

AI is also heavily reliant on data. In fact, “AI is nothing without data,” said Calkins. But AI is not only dependent on data; it also has synergy with it. AI is great at interpreting and analyzing data and providing the human worker with actionable intelligence.

AI has dependence on and synergy with processes as well. “To make the most of AI, we’ll be routing decisions back and forth between humans and AI. Which means that process is exceptionally important in harnessing the value we can get out of this technology,” explained Calkins. “Process is the necessary layer to bring AI into value.”

AI is not fit to make decisions.

While artificial intelligence excels at processing vast amounts of data and executing predefined tasks, it lacks the nuanced comprehension of human emotions, context, and ethical considerations essential for sound decision-making. Additionally, the potential biases present in training data can lead to unfair or unintended outcomes, highlighting the need for human oversight in decision-making processes. Overall, the complex nature of human decision-making goes beyond the capabilities of current AI technologies.

What AI is.

AI is reliant on data.

I know this was said above, but it bears repeating. AI fundamentally relies on data, as it thrives on information to learn, analyze, and make predictions. The quality, diversity, and volume of data directly influence the effectiveness of AI algorithms. Machine learning models, a key component of AI, require extensive and representative datasets for training to recognize patterns and correlations. The ongoing success and adaptability of AI systems depend on the continuous flow of relevant data, emphasizing the crucial role data plays in fueling and refining artificial intelligence capabilities. In essence, data serves as the lifeblood that empowers AI to evolve, learn, and deliver meaningful outcomes across various applications.

“AI is nothing without data.”
- Matt Calkins, CEO, Appian

AI is a bridge between historical data and present questions.

Through the recognition of historical contexts and correlations within datasets, AI provides a foundation for understanding current challenges and formulating informed responses. This capability allows decision-makers to draw insights from the wealth of historical information, enabling a more nuanced and data-driven approach to address issues or answer questions in real time. The ability of AI to connect the dots between historical data and present queries enhances decision-making processes and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of complex situations.

AI is a portal into your data.

Its ability to access, analyze, and derive insights from vast volumes of data and learn from diverse datasets enables AI to unlock valuable information, patterns, and correlations. It transforms raw information into actionable knowledge, empowering decision-makers to make informed choices based on AI-driven data analysis. This makes AI a crucial tool for organizations seeking to leverage the potential insights embedded in their data. However, it also highlights the importance of responsible data handling and privacy considerations as AI interacts with and interprets sensitive information.

AI is leading us to a human-centric future.

AI is leading us to a human-centric future by enhancing and augmenting human capabilities, fostering personalized experiences, and addressing societal challenges. As AI technologies advance, they contribute to the development of tailored solutions that prioritize individual needs and preferences. From healthcare to education, AI applications strive to improve human well-being by providing more efficient and accessible services. Additionally, the evolution of AI emphasizes ethical considerations, like fairness, transparency, and accountability. AI helps us align technological progress with human values to ensure a future where AI complements and empowers humanity rather than replacing it.

[ Get the 2024 AI Outlook for predictions on AI from eight industry experts. ]

How Appian’s data fabric and process platform enrich AI.

If data is the lifeblood of AI, then data silos restrict its flow. AI tools need to access rich datasets to provide the most meaningful outcomes. But we know that government organizations are plagued by legacy systems and siloed data that make data access difficult.

That’s why Appian’s unique data fabric is so important for AI. It automatically discovers data across major databases, cloud, and enterprise systems. It provides centralized data access without migration, effectively eliminating silos. The Appian data fabric “makes all data look local, even though it’s scattered across the enterprise,” explained Calkins.

For AI to be effective, we need to route work to and from AI. Appian is a leader in process automation, performing 16 billion processes a day. In fact, more than 200 public sector organizations rely on the Appian AI Process Platform for their mission-critical processes. With expertise in AI, data integration, and process automation, Appian is well-positioned to harness the power of AI.

Hear Matt Calkins describe our AI, data, and process strategy in his own words and watch all the sessions from Appian Government 2023.