Appian’s CEO: Low-Code Tools Are Going Mainstream This Year

Following its latest surge, Appian’s  (APPN) – Get Report stock is up 159% on the year, a gain that’s outpaced by only a handful of other U.S.-traded software firms.

Appian, founded back in 1999, is a leading provider of low-code software development tools. Its subscription-based platform, which can be deployed in both cloud and on-premise environments, lets developers use a graphical interface to create software that can do things such as automate tasks, execute business processes and integrate data from a number of sources.

In recent years, Appian’s platform has been extended to let software created with it leverage cloud-based AI/machine learning services from the likes of Google  (GOOGL) – Get Report, Microsoft  (MSFT) – Get Report and Amazon.com  (AMZN) – Get Report.

Shares are up 32% since a strong Q3 report was posted on Nov. 5. Appian’s revenue rose 17% annually to $50.8 million, with a 6% drop in low-margin professional services revenue more than offset by a 40% increase in subscription revenue.

I had a couple of conversations recently with Matt Calkins, Appian’s founder and CEO. Here’s what he had to share about business trends, Appian’s competitive strengths relative to rivals such as Salesforce.com  (CRM) – Get Report, Microsoft and Pegasystems  (PEGA) – Get Report, and his company’s Q3 performance and long-term goals, slightly edited for clarity.

The customer demand trends that Appian has been seeing in recent months

Calkins: “The macro trend across the economy this year is the importance of agility. How important it is for organizations to be able to change their own processes — even their most important processes — in the face of change coming from outside their walls… For years, we’ve been talking about things like digital transformation [and] agility. And this year, we all had to live up to that. And so it’s been a year of reckoning.”

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