In March, when Appian announced its business process management (BPM) software contract with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, I noted that a lot of Appian’s technology such as Appian’s Form and Rules Designers and other real-user-facing components all work via a straight Web interface (no need for Flash, plug-ins, etc.). That helps support the company’s ability to deliver its Software as a Service (SaaS) offering called Appian Anywhere via almost any client. Given my day job with IT Investment Research (see link to right) I should have added that another big ingredient for any company going the SaaS route is money. For a bootstrap startup such as Appian that is not a trivial issue so it is not surprising that Appian’s founders announced venture funding on July 21.
Samir Gulati, Appian’s Vice President of Marketing and Matthew Calkins, its President and CEO, explained how they will use the $10 million investment by Novak Biddle to build up the SaaS infrastructure, market it and classic Appian Enterprise through a growing global and industry-specific partner ecosystem, and possibly add technology partners in the areas of business process analysis and business intelligence (BI). Started 10 years ago by guys from BI supplier Microstrategy, Appian has built on a Java base following the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and the XML Process Definition Language (xPDL). Appian comes with Red Hat JBoss out of the box but of course works with WebSphere and WebLogic as well.
But the good news is that users don’t have to worry about all that technology stuff. More important are the ease of use of Appian BPM implementation templates. Examples are available for procurement in federal government, for wealth management with rules for credit scoring, a program with Instill to build a quality management solution for the food/service industry, and a possible IT Help Desk template deriving from the Enterprise Rent a Car contract. One of the big uses of the investment will be to broaden and deepen such industry-specific and functionality-specific capabilities through partners. North America oriented today, Appian wants to expand outward in Europe from a beachhead in the U.K. and also add partners in Asia/Pacific.
How much of that growth is SaaS in the long term is an open question both for Appian and for the BPM market in general. I think the software market is going (back) to delvery as a service but that is more true for applications such as CRM than it is for BPM. The latter is true especially for those users that think of BPM as middleware. Calkins says he is prepared for both models of delivery but thinks there is an opportunity for a daily double where the two groups intersect: users that get their applications SaaS will have less of an issue using middleware delivered in that manner. Gulati says he expects to see examples of that both among small and medium size business as well as individual departments in larger companies and organizations.