Insight by Appian

IT Modernization requires BPM and low-code automation for lasting success

Michael Beckley is co-founder and CTO of Appian and he submits that we should take a whole new look at upgrading and automating enterprise systems. 


BPM Gets New Legs

What it means is that you have a visual building block to assemble your process rather than having to write code. What it means is that you visualized a business process in a workflow diagram that is the running software. So, when you change the flow chart, you are changing the code.



So, what we have done is used artificial intelligence to make it easy for the government to bring in, and anyone, quite frankly, to bring in mass amounts of documents and scan them and use artificial intelligence to overcome what has kept us from doing that in the past.


Implications of BPM Change

Low-code platforms can allow developers to go so much faster because they can focus on what is truly differentiated. What is new? What is unique to that agency and all the standard things of pulling data from databases and making it accessible, pulling data from Web services. You know how people access information without all that swivel chair usage and having to go to 12 different systems.

If we have learned anything from 2020, we have seen that federal systems need to be updated to handle the new demands of remote access, shared documents and process automation.  Estimates go as high as 90% of federal employees are working remotely.

Additionally, we must handle petabytes of documents, much of which is unstructured.  On top of this perplexing situation is the inability to understand document sequence by walking down the hall to ask a colleague about it.  Many federal systems are ripe for automation.

The concept of automation is not new.  The problem is older methods yield a transition that is slow, inflexible and unable to scale to the amount of data we have today.

Michael Beckley is co-founder and CTO of Appian and he submits that we should take a whole new look at upgrading and automating enterprise systems.  Rather than relying on a tedious method of sitting down and writing code or even using code libraries, he suggests an approach that uses low-code.

Michael states low-code allows “a visualized business process in a workflow diagram that is running the software.”  Further, this process takes the configuration ability from professional software developers to business analysts and nontraditional developers.

Low-code provides the vehicle to accomplish the mantra of agile development, “fail early and fail often.” In other words, test out proposed software sequences until they work.

Everyone wants to share documents, but when IoT devices are projected to introduce billions of new data points it gets hard to ingest that amount of information.  Even when low-code allows for quick iterations of automation processes to achieve the optimal method, there is still the issue of handling petabytes of data.

One aspect of the low-code solution offered by Appian is the ability to use artificial intelligence to scan documents.  Artificial intelligence from Appian can adapt to information presented in complex tables, comments made by analysts, even added checkmarks.

IT modernization is not the sole domain of code, even if it is low-code.  Human knowledge must be combined with artificial intelligence and bots on a unified platform to accomplish the task.  One does not just pull a block of code off the shelf and slap it into a system; the right automation must combine with human decision-making to increase productivity.

Sometimes the acquisition of the solution can delay its delivery. We all know each agency will have its unique workflow on top of federal acquisition regulations that must be considered.  Traditionally, trying to apply that workflow to a system that includes requirements as well as award and solicitation management causes delay.  Even a fast, flexible system can get sidetracked with this convoluted process.

One way to avoid this delay is to have a unified platform that will include built-in tools for managing and monitoring the process.  Let us look at just a small aspect of this system – if you decide to edit an  existing system, you may need to manually email it to the bot.  The Appian system will allow bot management that will incorporate them into the improved workflow.

In such a complex system, one may ask how can human collaboration take place?  Appian allows humans to dynamically source ideas from people who use the system.  One portal will allow you to decide and automate changes.

Improving an enterprise system is difficult enough when all staff are on site.  The COVID crisis is forcing federal leaders to apply automation tools to increase productivity in these trying times.

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