IDN Expert Voices:  Convergence of Mobile, Social and BPM

More enterprises are embracing cloud, mobile and social networking projects. As each proves its own value, IT and business decision-makers are looking to bring them together to capture even more value. IDN 'Expert Voices' speaks with Samir Gulati, Vice President at Appian about how ‘Mobile BPM’ unites mobility, BPM, collaboration and cloud.

Tags: expert voice, bpm, appian,

Samir Gulati

Mobile BPM Lets Today’s Workers Stay Connected and Collaborate in Real-Time  

Transcript below>

Interview Transcript

Vance McCarthy:  

Good morning, this is Vance McCarthy, program director for Integration Developer News again with another NR series of expert voices talking about trends and business critical enterprise architecture.  And today I’m very pleased to be joined by Samir Gulatti, vice president for marketing at Appian.  Samir, welcome to Integration Developer News.

Samir Gulati:   Great to be with you, Vance.
Vance McCarthy:   Today’s focus is going to be this convergence of three of the most hot topics in IT today: Mobile, BPM and Cloud. I wonder, before we go into the specific technology implications of that, Samir, just paint a picture for us of what you, and your analysts that you follow are seeing about this great opportunity?
Samir Gulati:  

Vance, the cloud computing is here to stay, and those trends are extremely strong now.  40% of our sales in the first quarter is an example of deployments in the cloud.


But now what we’re seeing is the mobile applications and the mobile computing trend is coming on very strong.  Take a look at just a number of mobile devices being shipped year over year and the fact that more and more people are doing business on their smart phones than on their PCs, it’s imperative that providers like us provide their capabilities on mobile devices and really enable process management on mobile devices and that’s exactly what Appian has been working on.

Vance McCarthy:   Samir, this is such a huge opportunity and convergence of these three technologies and this is not something that Appian just picked up from a couple of research reports.  You’ve been in this space for quite a while.  Why don’t you acquaint the IT audience with a little bit about Appian’s heritage?
Samir Gulati:  

Sure, we are about a 10-year old company focused on BPM, business process management, for the bulk of that time, and have really been known as an innovative company in the space.  We were the first to provide the entire BPM suite in the cloud, but more recently we have added native mobile capability for our process technology and our BPM technologies available as a native mobile application on the Apple i devices, iPhone, iPads, iTouch, and then on the Blackberry and Android devices so we’ve really tried to mobile enable all our process users and then we’ve taken the same interface that we’ve simplified for the mobile device to facilitate social collaboration and social communication.


And these three things really coming together are providing tremendous capability to our customers.

Vance McCarthy:   And under the covers for the IT architects out there, even though you are natively web based and are very easily transferable to mobile, you’ve got an awful lot of engine capability and inventing and rules under the covers, right?
Samir Gulati:  

Sure, if you look at the slide that talks about our BPM suite, that is really the power behind the platform.  Shows all the functionality as it relates to process modeling, process management, data modeling, data integration and analytics and business activity monitoring reporting as well as social collaboration as it relates to content management and collaboration.  So all these aspects are integrated into our suited but the flexibility we provide is really the ability to access either on the [inaudible] or in mobile devices and then to be able to deploy it either on premise or in the cloud.

And we think it’s all about providing these options to our customers that really expands process participation.

Vance McCarthy:  

This is a terrific ground setting now to drill down, Samir, into the three technology forces that we’ve been talking about, mobile cloud and social, and how Appian sees them converging for the customers.  I see you’ve listed out the three topics.  Why don’t you take us through your thinking there and what your customers are telling you?

Samir Gulati:  

Absolutely.  I’ll start, actually, with the cloud because that has been available for the longest time in our suite, and really what we’ve done is we’ve provided the same capability, the same platform, because it’s 100% web based architecture, we’ve deployed it in the cloud for our customers, and really allowed them to seamlessly migrate.  So many of them will start in the cloud and then maybe migrate to on premise if they have some really complex integrations that they need to do or sometimes they’ve started on premise and for subsequent projects have moved to the cloud because of the speed to deployment as well as bringing the total cost of ownership down.


So the fact that we can seamlessly migrate from one platform to the other and get them up pretty quickly are some of the unique selling points being the cloud offering and as I mentioned to you earlier, now over 40% of our new customers are choosing to deploy their software in the cloud.  but the opportunity that we’re really excited about going forward is really the mobile and social combination and what we’ve done is provided native mobile applications for the iPhones and Blackberry and Android devices where the executives can simply see the advance and notification being generated from process, easily look at reports and dashboards and complete tasks while they’re on the road.  The other folks that are participating in the process as well can get real time visibility into what’s happening.


Again, initial process, initiate task and complete work.  So we’re really trying to take the power of process and say this is not really tied to the desktop, you can access and enable your process or participate in your process wherever you are, and that’s what mobile BPM is all about.  And finally, social is all about being able to communicate and collaborate in the context of process events and the context of business events and makes sure you’re making the right decisions, and you’re being responsive.


And at the end of the day, a lot of what BPM is about is about improving response times, being more productive and making the right business decisions to optimize your process.  And we think social BPM really facilitates that effective collaboration.  So mobile and social combined are very, very powerful combination from an end user perspective as well as from an executive empowerment perspective.

Vance McCarthy:   And this image you have over here to the right, Samir, on this technology slide, it seems to communicate a much more interactive and almost real time approach to  BPM that gives me not only more visibility with my coworkers but instant ability to respond to certain sorts of processes and events.
Samir Gulati:  

Absolutely, Vance, I mean that’s the power of having process on your mobile devices because as you know, most of us check our mobile devices much more frequently than even our desktop so this gives you a real time feed of information being generated from process events, and the unique thing about this is that not only is it Real Time and highly collaborative, but it really allows you to take action so if there is something that you need to do either receive and approve a task or initiate a new process or escalate an event, the right side of this feed really allows you to take the appropriate action.


You can actually live in the center face and get real time visibility into your business at the same time.  So it’s very, very powerful way and we’re finding our customers as they’re upgrading running into more and more really unique use cases that are bringing the power of mobility to BPM.

Vance McCarthy:   And just to illustrate that flexibility and ability to do live collaboration and not just design time collaboration, take us through the screen here that you’ve got of the Appian social BPM with your filters, events, and actions.  That’s a very integrating UI.
Samir Gulati:  

This is the same user interface on the web if you use Appian Tempo which is the latest capability I’ve been talking about or you download our native app from the iTunes store, you will see the same interface available to you.  And the left side is a very simple way in which you can filter your events stream so you can filter by functional area, your finance or HR applications or your marketing and sales applications or you can filter by start items or your tasks.  So it proves a very easy way to filter your events stream.


The actual events stream in the middle that shows just a sequential set of events and anybody who’s used Facebook or any of the social networking tools would be very familiar with that event based stream.  And then the right side is where you take actions, and you can open a task, you can look at any of the existing processes and drill down and look at reports, or you can initiate and new request.  So very simple set of actions and based on your security level or role within the organization, a defined set of actions are available to you.

Vance McCarthy:  

And just to drill down on that just for a second just to communicate the power of that screen, is it – these events or these comments about events that are in the middle, these can be specifically tied to a specific process, or a specific department, or a specific task, correct?  They’re not just random Twitter feeds, for example.

Samir Gulati:  

No, no, they’re not random at all.  In fact, you can subscribe.  You see these little subscribe and comment buttons under each even posting based on which processes you’ve subscribed to, you will get the events only being generated from those processes that you’re interested in.  So I may be interested in an HR on boarding process and I may be only interested in new sales people getting on board. So I can drill down and personalize my subscription to the process and the role that is specific to me, and then just see the events coming from that.


And then I can collaborate based off of that, and the power of that is really you’re collaborating in the context of A, a business process or business event being generated from that business process, and it’s not just a random collaboration, it’s contextual collaboration.  And I think that’s what makes this so much more powerful when you integrate social collaboration with BPM.  You always have the process context.

Vance McCarthy:  

Wow, Samir, that’s really powerful.  And not to neglect the underlying infrastructure that makes this happen, much of which is based on your cloud and web heritage, the idea here is that a lot of the service levels and a lot of the other sort of communication integrity and even security you talked about is founded in a lot of your Appian cloud experience?

Samir Gulati:  

Yeah, absolutely.  As I mentioned earlier, we have the same platform that we deploy on premises available on the cloud.  We’ve done a lot of work in making sure that the data privacy and security are at the level our customers require and with the VPN access now behind the firewall, we can really reach behind your systems and applications behind the file wall and integrate with them.  So this is becoming a very, very common way now to deploying BPM, financial services and government definitely tend to lead the way in BPM and they’re coming on strongly with raising the cloud, but companies that maybe retail or pharmaceutical, health care, different industries where the business is eager to get something deployed quickly and IT is actually embracing cloud applications, those are some of the bets organizations to work with.

Vance McCarthy:  

Very, very strong, Samir, especially given that the cloud is a very core and easily adoptable platform for both this mobile and social element.  You’ve really made it pretty easy to not just scale up my users but scale how they communicate with each other over BPM, very strong.  Samir Gulatti, vice present marketing for Appian.  Thanks very much for taking the time.  We’ve going to leave some links up here ‘cause I’m sure that some of our attendees have some questions about getting more information, or seeing how they can begin the journey themselves.  Thanks very much for your time.

Samir Gulati:  

Great, thanks a lot, Vance.