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September 28, 2009

Appian revs web-based BPM suite

On-premise or cloud-based BPM on offer

By Jason Stamper

Business process management (BPM) firm Appian will later today announce version 6, which it claims is the fastest way to design and deploy robust business processes.

The firm will claim that Appian 6 makes it faster and easier to build, deploy, use and maintain collaborative process applications, thanks to one-click import, export and publishing of all components of a process application, as well as application-centric portal views for end users.

The company will also announce Appian Forum, a collaborative online network said to accelerate process improvement through application templates, product extensions and knowledge-sharing; as well as a professional services BPM methodology and framework.

Appian 6 is said to be a complete BPM suite, which includes process, business rules, forms, content management, reporting, identity management, integration, and collaboration. But the firm has a tight integration partnership with business process modelling firm Mega for existing Mega customers, or those with more sophisticated enterprise architecture and process modelling needs.

Software AG acquired IDS Scheer in July this year to add IDS Scheer’s powerful business process diagramming technology to its own BPM portfolio for similar reasons.

Meanwhile the new Appian 6 Collaborative User Portal is said to give designers complete control over the creation of interfaces that empower end-users, delivering for example personalized content, shared work queues, and aggregated content from related systems. Appian 6 is also said to feature rapid application development and a real-time process architecture.

The 10 year-old firm is less well-known in Europe than some of its rivals, thanks at least in part to the fact that the company’s biggest customer to date has been the US Army. Appian technology was deployed for the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) project which serves just under 2 million users in the US Army – that huge deal meant Appian spent relatively little time worrying about marketing in its early years.

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But the company does have another half a million end users of its software amongst other organisations, and it took on $10m in VC funding for the first time at the end of 2008 to expand its marketing and sales activities outside of its domestic US market.

The company’s managing director for Europe, Justin Thomas, told CBR that Appian’s differentiator against rivals that include Metastorm, Lombardi, Cordys, Tibco, Pegasystems, Oracle, SAP and Software AG, is that its technology is web-based and not built partly through acquisitions.

The company has two versions that are near-identical apart from their deployment models – Appian Enterprise which is deployed within a firm’s firewall but is still web-based as far as users are concerned; and Appian Anywhere, which is a software as a service (SaaS) version of the same technology, hosted by Appian partners such as Amazon.

Thomas said the company’s Appian Anywhere has, “more revenue and users than any other SaaS BPM product”, thanks in part to the US Army AKO project, which reached the milestone of having had its one-billionth user logon last year.

SaaS-based BPM tools competing with Appian Anywhere in various segments include the Cordys Process Factory, Lombardi’s Blueprint and SAP Business Objects Nsite, which it garnered when Business Objects bought Nsite in January 2007.




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