Appian 6 Released

Two weeks ago Appian launched version 6 of its BPMS, along with a rebooted online collaboration network called Appian FORUM and a suite of professional services offerings. Appian plays in the human-centric business-empowered end of the BPMS vendor landscape along with Lombardi and Savvion. With all the vendors now claiming ease of use, Appian's new claim is "fastest," meaning shortest cycle time from concept to production. It's a distinction without much of a difference, but Appian believes that its tools require less scripting and technical futzing than its natural competitors. I think it would be fair to say that Appian provides more of the solution building blocks already preconfigured, so in that sense it could be faster to deploy.

Like Lombardi in Teamworks 7, Appian 6 is emphasizing new capabilities that enable "massive reuse", design team collaboration, and one-click deployment. This is natural as the human-centric end of the BPMS market evolves from isolated projects to "enterprise" BPM programs. Of all the human-centric vendors, Appian seems most at ease with complete business empowerment.

All of Appian's design and runtime administration tools are browser-based, and Appian 6 now supports import, export, and publishing of all application components - flows, forms, rules, etc. - in one click. In order to support today's multi-application BPM environments, Appian 6 has also adapted the portal to provide tab-selectable application-specific views.

Appian FORUM appears to be the successor to the promised online "marketplace" for Appian Anywhere, the company's cloud-based offering. Available to customers of both Appian Enterprise and Appian Anywhere, the new FORUM provides a library of downloadable application templates, process templates, and reusable tasks called Smart Services, developed by customers, partners, and Appian itself. Templates include Employee Onboarding, Spend Request, and IT Service Management. Appian-developed templates are free, while partner-developed are fee-based.

Appian's new professional services framework is built around a its own BPM maturity model that aims to move customer self-sufficiency from the isolated project level to the enterprise program level. Like Lombardi's similar offering, it takes a fairly narrow product-centric approach to "BPM in the large." At the same time, Appian appears to be expanding its relationship with Mega, a major player in the BPA space. That could help to enlarge Appian's view of the BPM market to include the majority of "BPM" users that are still at the modeling and analysis stage and not ready to automate anything just yet.