Appian announces Google AI and RPA integration for 'no-code' platform

Tighter integration with Google's AI services, including image recognition, sentiment analysis, and Translate - plus support for Robotic Process Automation vendors were among the announcements this week at Appian World

Low-code enterprise vendor Appian has integrated Google AI services into its app-building platform, with the goal of making AI capabilities "drag and drop" for its customers.

Speaking at the Appian World event this week in San Diego, CEO Matt Calkins buried the announcement amidst a melange of others during his opening keynote yesterday. The idea is that by integrating AI capabilities into business applications - like image recognition or sentiment analysis - companies will be able to put together intelligent apps without having to be trained in any technical languages.

Users will be able to access Appian AI through the 'Connected System' integration service. There, customers can drag and drop Google AI services in their app creation workflow.

"This is something that we had thought about for a while now," said Calkins during the keynote. "It's going to give you the easiest possible access to some of the world's best AI ... My goal is just to make AI practical, that's really what this is about. We want it to, at your fingertips, with no new contract, no new integration, nothing complicated, it's an Appian object, you just use it."

The services include the Google Translate API for language detection and translation services, Google Vision API for character recognition and label detection, and Google Natural Language, with sentiment analysis, syntax analysis, and entity recognition, and content classification services. There is also Google Cloud Storage to support the services and Google Console admin and management within the Appian platform.

Appian's low - or 'no' - code software is aimed, in particular, at enterprises that want to release functional custom applications quickly. These could be internal or external-facing, just like any other app. Somewhat crudely, you can think of the Appian platform as a kind of white-box vendor but for releasing software. Indeed, Appian partners sell the apps and services they create with the platform to their own customers.

Last year, Appian announced an AI-aided customer satisfaction bolt-on to its services, that was based on open source tools, as well as writing a series of 'connectors' for the major AI services.

"This is our next step to get AI even closer to putting it at your fingertips and just making it usable," said Calkins. "We want to make it that easy - we want to take AI off the whiteboard, and put it on your computer, to make it part of your arsenal. So this is our latest attempt to make AI something that is an asset for you."

Microsoft and AWS connects are "still there" and they "still work", said Calkins, adding that support will continue "perpetually".

RPA integration

Also announced was wider support for robotic process automation (RPA) platforms - in addition to the Blue Prism integration that was already supported. Now fellow leading vendors UiPath and Automation Anywhere are also supported.

But, Blue Prism users will also gain access to the new Robotic Workforce Manager platform for Appian, which aims to provide users visibility into their robotic workforce, as a kind of orchestrator for process bots, on web and on mobile.

Users will also be able to coordinate work between the various RPA bots, as well as managing the lifecycle of automated tasks. RPA can be called up on demand or scheduled to run when needed.

"We want it to be as easy and efficient as possible for you to integrate and orchestrate with all three major RPA platforms," Calkins said (although other RPA vendors might disagree).

"We understand that RPA bots are infiltrating organisations by the dozen at this point, your organisation probably has a lot of bots," he said. "And maybe you don't even know about all of them, because sometimes they come from the top, and sometimes they come from the bottom, and you've got bots performing different tasks with different levels of efficiency."

He added that bots are onboarded as if they were an employee into the platform, and when it's approved the bot is deployed. Stats and efficiency logs are also available to measure the efficacy of the bots, to see where they are "doing well" or "when they're stumbling".

The new Appian Platform was also announced this week, including a few additional security accreditations - ISO 27001, Hitrust CSF Certified, and a certification from the American Department of Defense.

Features include tighter integration between Appian and Salesforce, as well as Twilio and Salesforce, plus Microsoft PowerBI in Appian, and access to AWS S3 data stores and S3 objects via an Appian interface.

And, to cheers from the room, manual refreshes will no longer be required throughout the platform.

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