Matt Calkins founded Appian with four friends from his basement. In 2007 it starred in a US stock market IPO with an external capital of only $10 million. In 2021, its revenue was €346.6 million. He admitted that it took him five years to come up with the idea of simplifying programming languages, that he had not abandoned his traditional role in this digital society and that with board games – one of his hobbies – more than a screen. Things can be done in
How was the beginning of the company working in the basement of the house?
The original idea was to create a company that could influence a lot of people, with a massive impact. We were consultants, we didn’t have the money and needed to finance our business, but the dream was to build a website or a software product that could change many people’s lives.
Is this how ‘low-code’ came about?
It took us a long time to get it and we changed the development several times. We had to adapt. When we started no one had heard of low-code, not even us. We didn’t even think about it at that time. I remember the day I got this idea, the idea that you could draw something and convert that image into software. This is the kind of programming we can all do. And in future we are going to need more software.
It’s about making things simple…
yes of course. Also, if machines are important to us, to people, and if we want to be able to communicate better with them, that’s a good way to do it. I’ve always looked for ways to make things easier. I am actually an economist, not a technologist. I felt that being able to communicate easily with a machine would have a profound effect on the way people worked.
Could this difficult communication with machines be the root of many problems?
Ever since the invention of computers, we have wanted to communicate with them. But it is very difficult, especially in the beginning, when computers could only understand their language of switches and punch cards and even more complex things. Over time, we have made it easier and easier. We had come a long way in the 90s. I remember back then people thought this new way of programming was very intuitive. We wanted to go a long way.
What is the goal of less code?
Low-code or low-code is not intended to help people with only the most sophisticated needs. We started there, but that’s not the whole purpose of our industry. We want to democratize development and allow everyone who wants to be a developer and allow them to communicate and collaborate with machines. When we make our technology easier, we are more successful.
Is ‘low-code’ available for all types of companies or only for the largest companies?
Earlier it was aimed at large companies, but now it is also for medium-sized companies. We have been working on this idea for 15 years and in that time we have made it much more accessible. Now we want to make it popular with the motto of Lowcode4all. We want to make access to this technology easy.
Now programmers have to be more on top of business?
We have made programming very easy. So someone in business can understand what’s going on in a program and tell us when it’s wrong. They used to have such different skill sets – knowing the business and knowing the show – that it was hard for them to be on the same level. Making program development seamless allows companies to understand them. This is a great way to bring groups together. And then of course some people who may not have been programmers before now.
What is the final step in that simplification of ‘software’?
We have combined an end-to-end suite of processes to bring together process building and process mining workflows and automation in a single product. Thus we facilitate the use of these three processes at the same time. We have designed a more powerful answer not only for organizations that want the best possible response to digital transformation. We have also made it very easy for the people. It is now possible to access them together and use them as a single entity. With this, we open up this industry to more participants. The amount of use of our tools has skyrocketed and this is because of the ease of use. Let’s just say this suite combines both power and affordability.
What do companies need to be more efficient?
Right now they have more data than knowledge. There is a lot of data, but they are not understood. For an organization to become more efficient, it needs to understand what is going on within its own walls. where we are? Where are we spending too much money? Where are we taking too much time? They just need to understand the truth of their system and once they know that, it’s easy to know where to work, that’s the key.
Can you provide any data?
98% of our customers stay with us every year because they exceed expectations. We want digital transformation to be agile, that projects work. That’s the key, take things easy.
There are many of these digital transformation processes that fail because they don’t want to leave behind outdated structures or legacy systems. How to solve the problem?
I believe the main reason digital transformation fails is because there are too many moving parts and product interfaces from different companies… We want these systems to understand each other, but that’s not always possible. and processes should be streamlined, integrated.
What are your forecasts for this year?
This is going to be the best year in the history of the company as we have rebuilt our industry by integrating into this suite that I was talking about earlier. I think this is a turning point for our industry. Workflow and process mining automation will be one in the future and we have shown that it is possible. I think now the entire industry will have to follow this model. Ultimately, I think Appian is poised for tremendous growth as a company.
Has the pandemic ended well for driving digital transformation?
Perhaps the end of the pandemic has been a good thing for developing technology and processing it. I think it showed people how important it is to react to external events and keep up with them. When it comes to working remotely, I find it easier to be creative and innovative when we are working in the same room with other people. I’m glad we can work together again.
In his spare time he enjoys board games…
That’s right, I love the tactile element and because I love the fact of bringing people closer together around a table. You can also show more on the board than on the screen, so it gives more possibilities.