A Story of Technology and Sliced Bread

In the midst of layoffs sweeping the attention around technology companies, one subset of the software industry that received significant growth, but is receiving much less attention are low-code development platforms. Low-code development platforms utilize visual tools, such as drag drop components, rather than traditional line by line coding in order to build web and mobile applications.

Technology research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that “by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies, up from less than 25% in 2020.”

One of the companies most equipped to benefit from this growth is Appian. Somewhat atypical, Appian is headquartered in the Northern Virginia suburbs outside of Washington, D.C., instead of Silicon Valley. Yet still, Appian remains one of the biggest players in the low-code industry with a revenue of $468 million dollars last year. The reason? Their platform is the “greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Confused? Allow me to explain…

In the early 1900’s sliced bread came into popularization. The phrase now represents a metaphor for a truly innovative product that simplifies the experience for buyers. Despite only containing 4 simple ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, and water), baking your own bread could present many difficulties. It can take a long time and, if cooked incorrectly, it won’t come out the way you like it. You do get a lot of freedom as a baker compared to buying it in sliced form. If you wanted to make green colored bread or have it in the shape of a trapezoid, you would have the ability to control that rather than having to find and buy a product that matches your exact needs.

You could also buy a premade sandwich to get sliced bread. But..unless you actually wanted a sandwich, instead of just the sliced bread, you’re spending excessive money purchasing the other ingredients. Even if you do want a sandwich, it might contain ingredients that you plan on taking off the sandwich because you don’t want them, which wouldn’t change the price.

So why is Appian “the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread?”

Just as sliced bread aimed to revolutionize the food industry for consumers, Appian aims to revolutionize software application development in a similar fashion. In software applications, companies are frequently put in the tough position of “build versus buy.” Appian blends the world of those two choices so it’s no longer binary.

Like every sandwich needs bread as a foundation, a tool like Appian provides the baseline structure for business applications and data. It’s up to you to bring your own flavor.

As a PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), Appian offers pre-built components all customer applications need, such as reports, interfaces, grids, and buttons, and workflow tools. However, Appian doesn’t dictate what the customer should want, but instead provides a flexible platform that can be customized to meet specific requirements. It is up to the customer to determine where to source and how to structure their data, and how to display it all within the application. This level of flexibility is not available with a SaaS or custom system.

A custom solution in software gives your organization more control over the look of your application, similar to baking green-colored or trapezoid shaped bread. But Appian isn’t trying to solve for the unique UI choices of software applications. Their benefit is providing companies with as many utilitarian components of code as possible to speed up delivery. Custom applications delivery time can be unpredictable, and ultimately the product might not come out as you envisioned it. A study by PricewaterhouseCooper found that:

  1. 1 in 6 IT projects have a cost overrun of 200%.
  2. IT projects with a budget of at least $1 million are 50% more likely to fail to meet business objectives.

Additionally, many software applications also come in the form of pre-built software solutions or SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Buying something instantly ready to use is obviously the fastest possible delivery, but these solutions often provide unused expensive features that don’t necessarily align with your business needs. It can often be difficult to make changes to these products as well for the things your business does need. Appian is a platform designed to iterate and change as your business evolves. PaaS systems like Appian also allow for easier integration with other applications and services. Developers can leverage APIs and middleware to integrate their applications with other systems. With SaaS, integration can be more challenging and limited to the capabilities provided by the software vendor.

Appian is one of the fastest growing low-code platforms in the world and has been a part of the transformation to low-code applications, all thanks to being like sliced bread.

Interested in using Appian? Visit our webpage to learn more. We are professional services partners with over 10 years of experience and deep platform knowledge.