Extending beyond the low code in automation: a question and answer session with Appian

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Improving efficiency allows organizations to do even more at the same time. When it comes to developing applications, low-code allows companies to quickly build custom applications based on their needs, while Robotic Process Automation (RPA) allows companies to automate mundane tasks so that their human employees can focus on larger jobs.

Appian is known for its low-code software, but thanks to a series of recent acquisitions, the company has grown into automation by offering customers the ability to automate tasks via RPA and do it intelligently using AI. TechRadar Pro spoke to Michael Heffner, global head of financial services and insurance, to learn more about his expansion into automation.

Can you tell us a little bit about low-code and how organizations can use it to quickly build their custom applications?

Low-code is a unique approach to build business applications – quickly. It removes as much manual coding as possible, allowing companies to develop powerful new applications and quickly automate workflows with AI and RPA.

Low-code automation is used by leading brands and government agencies to respond quickly to changes, launch new digital customer experiences, and automate business processes wherever data is stored.

Office software

(Image credit: Pixabay)

As part of Appian's expanded partnership with Google Cloud, customers now have access to pre-configured, pre-configured AI capabilities for intelligent document processing. Can you tell us how organizations can benefit from AI-based document processing?

Despite all the talk about digital transformation, businesses and governments are drowning in a mountain of paperwork. They waste $ 13 billion a year today on OCR alone to digitize all of this paper.

Appian Intelligent Document Processing with Google AI scans documents and converts them into automated business processes without code. A large insurance client uses Appian to analyze claims from thousands of different brokers. Each brokerage creates their own forms, so the error rate with traditional OCR was very high.

Now, with Appian and Google AI, not only is the quality better, but if the system is not very confident, Appian automatically creates an interface for employee review. When the person validates or corrects the form, the result is passed back to the algorithm so that he learns and that the whole system becomes more precise over time.

What are the benefits of making humans, software robots and AI work together?

With Appian's full automation, humans are in control, assisted by AI and RPA. If the turbulent times of today teach us anything, it is that we must build resilient and adaptable processes.

When a process needs to change, in Appian, humans are allowed to change it. Software robots are great, but simple changes can interrupt their programming. Appian therefore records the systems and processes that robots touch so that their programming is always consistent with system updates and modifications.

Put it all together and you have an automation that doesn't just work the first day, it adapts and learns to follow your business – no matter what happens next.


(Image credit: Future)

Can you tell us more about your recent COVID-19 Response Management application and how companies and organizations can use it to protect the health and safety of their employees?

the COVID-19 Response Management application is Appian's solution for helping organizations capture and share information related to employee well-being during the coronavirus crisis. The app can be fully configured and adopted in two hours. It is also HIPAA compliant and available for free.

Organizations use the app to capture, share and act on information vital to the health and safety of their employees – including the health status, location and details of any COVID-19 incident. In addition, the app can be used to quickly create a virtual “COVID-19 help service”, where employee volunteers can connect and help other employees who may need help (for example, help with the grocery store, need a trip, etc.). The app also provides a central location for employees to retrieve timely resources related to the company's response efforts and policies.

Hundreds of large organizations with more than 1,000 employees have downloaded the app and many are already in production with Appian to manage their COVID-19 efforts, including ThyssenKrupp, Maximus and the University of South Florida. One interesting case, in particular, comes from one of the top 10 healthcare providers in the United States. They created an Appian application for their doctors to subject their COVID-19 patients to clinical trial treatments with a new drug. The drug has limited availability, so the company is managing the patient admission and approval process for this trial using Appian. They built their application (without our help) in just 24 hours and deployed it to thousands of doctors and all their medical centers.

What ways have companies used the low code that surprised you or your team?

Businesses are using low-code as we planned. We are not surprised by the innovation that is taking place and the value of the low code became even clearer during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to using applications that we created to help during the pandemic, our customers have created a multitude of their own applications to manage their workforce, facilities and business in these turbulent times. A low-code platform is the platform of choice for change.

Earlier this year, Appian acquired Novayre Solutions SL and its Jidoka RPA platform. How much of its technology is part of the Appian RPA?

With this acquisition, Appian is now a one-stop shop for automation. We have unified the low-code and the RPA platform into one complete automation platform, allowing the orchestration of the three modern job agents – humans, bots and artificial intelligence.

We have strategic partnerships with Blue Prism and UIPath, but now RPA from Appian will be RPA cloud and Java RPA, available globally on the Appian cloud. Now we can offer robot developers the ability to take advantage of a powerful Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which allows them to build sophisticated robots.

Appian has fully integrated the Jidoka RPA platform into our offers.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Now that Appian has become RPA, what is the next step for the company and are there other technologies that you are currently interested in or exploring?

We are heavily invested in AI. AI has huge potential for business, but it's currently too difficult / complex. Low-code is the way you make AI services practical for wide commercial use. The latest addition to our Appian AI offering is our ready-to-use intelligent document processing solution, which converts unstructured information on paper and email to structured information is a huge business challenge. Well, not anymore. Insert it, no code, and you're done. AI works with humans in the loop.

Our philosophy is to be an open platform. The beauty of low-code automation is that whatever the next wave of technology – be it new services, new devices, etc. – we will simplify the task of our customers to consume and use it. Whether we do it by building it, integrating it or buying it will be a case by case decision.


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