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As the realisation comes to the software market that the new generation of workers need user interfaces that fit with the lifestyle of Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones with apps, we are starting to see how various software companies are meeting these changes. For the BPMS market, Appian have always been one of the companies leading the way and with the release of Appian 6.5, which includes a new interface called Appian Tempo, they have produced a release that is geared towards the end user of BPMS-driven solutions in terms of a mobile and social interface with cloud capabilities.
Malcolm Ross, Appian’s Director of Product Management, told me “The release delivers a revolutionary way to extend process visibility and participation through native mobile device access, real-time collaboration, filtered and personalised views of key business events, integration to external systems, and the ability to take direct action in a familiar and intuitive social media interface.” So what does the new Appian interface deliver?
Appian Tempo provides native client applications for the Apple iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone as well as RIM BlackBerry devices. Ross explained that mobile BPM allows employees to stay connected, allowing them to monitor, collaborate and take action on important business decisions regardless of where they are. It also extends BPM participation beyond pre-defined process participants to include all levels of the organisation. The iPhone and iPad applications are available for immediate download from the Apple App Store. The BlackBerry application is available now from the Appian Forum community site, and will be available shortly on the BlackBerry App World site. A native application for Google Android devices will be available shortly.
Figure 1: Appian Tempo user interface on BlackBerry, iPad and iPhone. (Source: Appian)
There always seems to be a contradiction about incorporating social media into a business world. Social technologies are powerful communication and collaboration platforms, but they must be harnessed in a business context to have business value. Ross explained, “Appian utilises familiar social tools and interfaces to drive business collaboration across the enterprise through personalised, filtered views that allow easy collaboration with the ability to take action when needed.” Users can filter views by relevant application or process areas and subscribe to customised feeds to monitor the key events and information that is meaningful to them. As well, users can comment, pose questions and collaborate on business events through real-time message posts and ad hoc updates to targeted groups within and outside of pre-planned business processes. The last user capability is to “Take Action”; here a user can generate actions and complete tasks from inside the event feed or from a mobile device, using optimised web and mobile forms to capture data and route tasks.
Samir Gulati, Appian’s Vice President of Marketing, described how Appian 6.5, and in particular Appian Tempo, had been driven by their customers’ business needs. One example is Archstone, a leading apartment management company, headquartered in the USA. Archstone have a highly mobile and dispersed workforce which is supported by a system built on Appian. David Carpenter, Director of BPM, Archstone, stated that “Appian Tempo delivers a new level of value to our customer service associates through instant mobile access to our key enterprise processes and forms.”
I was very impressed with the demonstration of Appian 6.5 and the Appian Tempo interface. From an end user viewpoint it opens up the ability to make real-time decisions where and when they are needed by using collaborative technology. The product is definitely easy-to-use and intuitive. While all events and collaborations can be secured at a granular level, organisations that make use of the new Appian release will need to think about the security implications of the information that can be shared.
In addition to on-premise deployment, Appian has emerged as the BPM-in-the-cloud market leader. When you add the capabilities of Appian Tempo to those already in the Appian BPMS and Appian Anywhere, as well as Appian’s specific knowledge about industries such as government and financial services, you have a very compelling proposition.