No Code Foundry with Michael Beckley

by Dave Michels

Appian is a low-code software development platform that allows users to create business applications quickly and easily. The platform uses a visual drag-and-drop interface, making it accessible to users with little to no coding experience. Appian also includes features such as workflow automation, process management, and data integration.

There are several benefits to using Appian as a low-code development platform:

  1. Increased productivity: Appian’s visual drag-and-drop interface allows users to create applications quickly and easily, without the need for extensive coding knowledge.
  2. Improved collaboration: Appian allows multiple users to work on the same application at the same time, making it easy for teams to collaborate and share information.
  3. Greater flexibility: Appian’s platform is highly configurable, allowing users to easily adapt and modify applications to fit their specific needs.
  4. Better data integration: Appian provides tools for integrating data from various sources, including databases, spreadsheets, and web services.
  5. Streamlined workflows: Appian includes features for automating and managing business processes, which can help organizations to streamline their operations and improve efficiency.
  6. Mobile optimization: Appian provides mobile-optimized interfaces for the apps built on its platform, making it easy for users to access and use the applications from their mobile devices.
  7. Better security: Appian provides built-in security features to protect against data breaches and unauthorized access to the applications.
  8. Scalability: Appian can handle large volumes of data and high traffic, making it suitable for organizations of all sizes.

Michael Beckley is a founder of Appian Corporation. Beckley has a background in software engineering and brings a wealth of experience in the field of software development.


Evan Kirstel 0:12
Hey everyone on today’s Talking Heads, we’ll be speaking with Michael Beckley founder and CTO at Appian. But in the meantime, Dave, how are you?

Dave Michels 0:23
I’m doing great. I’m here in Fort Lauderdale. Where are you?

Evan Kirstel 0:26
I am on my way to Fort Lauderdale getting out of snowy, cold, rainy Boston.

Dave Michels 0:33

Evan Kirstel 0:34
There’s nothing like South Florida in the winter. And it’s just a perfect, perfect destination. Tell the listeners why we are here.

Dave Michels 0:44
We are here for the cloud Communications Alliance Conference, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. And I’m really excited to be here too, because it’s going to be one of those rare times where we get to actually collaborate,

Evan Kirstel 0:55
and meet and drink and eat and go out on a boat and sit by the waterfront and talk cloud communications. You know, there aren’t any real conferences left that just focus solely on Cloud communications, Contact Center, UCAS, etc. Yeah,

Dave Michels 1:14
the majority of events, I go to our vendor events. And so there’s Enterprise Connect. And there’s just a handful of really, what I would consider industry events. And Cloud Communications Alliance, for those that aren’t familiar with it is, is really kind of geared at the service providers, the independent service providers that kind of created this category. They’re at an interesting crossroads. In fact, one of the sessions we’ve got moderating is discussion of the platforms. We’ve got Metis, which for us is now part of Microsoft, we’ve got broadsoft, which is now part of Cisco. Alianza, we’ve got 2600 on the panel. And we’re going to be talking about the platform’s matter what platform service providers should be using, what model they should be using, whether they should be having data centers at all. I think it’s gonna be a really interesting conversation. So much has changed from the perpetual license concept to recurring model. Everything has changed over the past 20 years in this space.

Evan Kirstel 2:01
Wow, that’s an interesting one. I’ll be in the audience heckling. I mean, live tweeting. Now, as usual, but the future platform session isn’t the only one you’re doing one on mobility. We I really thought we had mobility. We have mobile phones, right?

Dave Michels 2:13
Yeah. We talked about I love the UCaaS mobility, what I call 3.0, the third generation of mobility. We’ve got solutions from Microsoft, Cisco RingCentral in reach. And I think it’s really a game changer. This is this is basically the convergence of UCAS, and mobility or cellular coming together in one solution. I think it’s a really interesting topic, looking forward to that one. But after that is your session that I’m really looking forward to because you’re actually going to be telling people how to be better at social. You know,

Evan Kirstel 2:45
Dave, I’ve been trying to tell you how to be better at social for at least eight to 10 years, I have to say, I feel I’ve failed miserably at teaching you and I blame the student, not the teacher, to be honest. But you thought I was gonna say teacher, but no, I so I’m going to open up my kimono. Figuratively speaking. And I’m going to give everyone a full hands on workshop on best practices, tips, tricks, techniques, the tools for not just creating and engaging on social but for creating innovative content, leveraging things like live video, and all of the features and functions on the platforms to get noticed, get attention, get engagement, something most people and most companies frankly, are missing out on. So come and learn and roll up your sleeves is key

Dave Michels 3:33
to being effective on social, the absolute key that you’ve demonstrated. It’s just easy. If you have a bazillion followers, I think that’s the key. If you can just get that piece done. That’s all you need.

Evan Kirstel 3:44
Well, you know, my first tweet was one of my best tweets. So and I had zero followers. And I was at a Chucky Cheese with my kids. They were actually little at the time, believe it or not. This is almost 15 years ago, and I was sitting around I like bored, you know, the kids were running around. And I’m looking for apps to download. So I downloaded this thing called Twitter. I typed in Wow, this Chucky Cheese, it’s like a casino for kids. And I just tweeted it no followers. All of a sudden I got all these lol ELLs that were replies and laughed and the dopamine hit was off the charts. It was so fun. And the rest is history. So yes, having followers is important. But having something to say that’s compelling, interesting, funny, and saying it in the right way at the right time also matters. So anyway, see you in Fort Lauderdale. And we’re going to have some fun and learn. Let’s get to our interview. All right, let’s do it.

god 4:39
Talking. It’s a semi monthly podcast with interviews at the top movers and shakers and enterprise communications and collaboration. Your host Dave Michaels and Evan Kirkstall, both of which offer extraordinary services including research, analysis and social media marketing. You can find them on Twitter, LinkedIn or at talking points. Calm. That’s points with the Z and Evan curse That’s que ir S T E L.

Evan Kirstel 5:07
Hey everyone, it’s Evan here with talking heads with Dave Michaels. And today we have a special guest, Mike Beckley, CTO and Founder of Appian. A company we’re going to talk about Mike, how are you? Hey,

Michael Beckley 5:21
it’s great to be here, Evan. Thanks. Well,

Evan Kirstel 5:23
we focus here at talking heads on enterprise communications, collaboration, CX and other topics. So this is a little bit out of our wheelhouse, but we’re here to learn. So we hope you’re gonna educate us on all things no code, low code, automation, RPA something or process mining, whatever that is. More

Dave Michels 5:45
low code. I don’t know, low coders

Evan Kirstel 5:48
doesn’t know Dave doesn’t know how to code. So he’s, he’s a really a no code guy. But maybe introduce yourself, Mike and your long journey at Appian. Yeah, sure.

Michael Beckley 5:59
So thanks for that, Evan. And, you know, we won’t be too far outside of the wheelhouse here. And I think we’ll find so yeah, I’m Mike Beckley. I started appy and 23 years ago with a few friends, Matt Caulkins, my co founder and CEO among them, and we set out to build a platform that allowed companies to innovate and do it without having to be computer scientists. So we should make you feel pretty comfortable. Dave Appian is a leader in the market for process automation with low code. And we’re used primarily by banks, insurance companies, large government agencies,

Dave Michels 6:30
are you saying that banks and insurance companies are dumb? No, no,

Michael Beckley 6:34
I’m saying that they need to innovate quickly. And they don’t always have the budget or the time to write custom code to solve all their problems. They need to be able to innovate faster than you can just writing a lot of custom code. That’s what our platform allows them to do. And so Nick, an insurance company, in the UK, like Aviva that’s been around for over 300 years, they have grown by acquiring hundreds of different other companies. And so their their system challenges if they want to take care of customers through that contact center is incredibly complicated. And so they use Appian, to unify 22 different systems and allow that 360 degree view of the customer that CRM was supposed to provide. But when you can’t get all the data into one CRM system, because it never will fit it’s too complicated a business than Appian allows you to tie that all together and use a low code approach to build innovative new processes to automate how you service those clients.

Dave Michels 7:27
That sounds a lot like what Jeff Lawson from Tullio was talking about, and we hit him on about Two episodes ago. And he was talking about bringing all the customer data together. And he was using the term Customer Data Platform CDP. But you know, the CVP Is that correct?

Michael Beckley 7:44
No, we’re a complete solution for process automation. So we well, Twilio has long focused on the communication aspects. And they’ve now branching out into more and doing more and pulling that data together. Appian has focused on the actual end to end process automation. And so what we offer is a data fabric that ties in all of the data, not just the customer data, but also the risk data, the financial data, any external systems, internal systems, and gives you a way to unify that information in a way you couldn’t do before. So that you can actually make risk based decisions, for example about are you onboarding the right customer are they who they say they are. And so being able to unify in a single dashboard that you build with, with low code that gives you this visibility in real time into the risk metrics, and the customer service metrics allows the company to not only grow faster, but also do it in a regulatory compliant way, which is important to our core customer base, which are the you know, those big insurance companies and banks and, and of course, the government entities that regulate them.

Evan Kirstel 8:44
This is all exciting. We’re gonna dive very deep, but I kind of want to go back a bit to the beginning. Yeah. 23 and a half years is a long time in tech. That’s like several lifetimes. It’s several years did you you really set out you graduated from Dartmouth, you went to a company remind me of the name

Michael Beckley 9:02
MicroStrategy Yes, that’s company.

Evan Kirstel 9:04
That’s been my first strategy. Yes, it

Michael Beckley 9:06
has become more notorious lately for Mike sailor, the CEO is the Bitcoin king. He took all of MicroStrategy is money they made from from software decades ago and bought Bitcoin with it. So and he’s a very prominent spokesperson for champion for cryptocurrency. So. So that’s where I started. That was decades ago. But Mike’s his own personality.

Evan Kirstel 9:24
And so right away, you you had this vision of a new way of developing software. That’s pretty early in this whole idea of a new paradigm for development. Yeah,

Michael Beckley 9:35
I mean, I don’t want to suggest that 23 years ago, we knew that we needed to build a data fabric and this low code platform exactly the way it came out. We didn’t worry about that. What we worried about was how do you build a platform for innovation? Both as a culture as a business, how do you incent your people to realize it’s their job to think like executives and be willing to burn down old business models and old code to make way for something better? And then as it technology that we were trying to create. We wanted to empower people to be creators, not just consumers of data and systems. Certainly it’s been a great evolution over the last 20 odd years. But we have always stayed focused on this simple premise of how can you build a process, build an application. And if we can make it twice as fast every two years for you to be able to do that, then will unleash the creative potential in everyone.

Evan Kirstel 10:24
That’s exciting. So during that 23 years, this concept of robotic process automation rpa, has really taken off like wildfire, just like low code. So are you playing in that space as well as the low code space? Yeah, yeah.

Michael Beckley 10:41
So we’re driving, we believe in this necessary convergence, we don’t think that you can solve a complete problem for our customer, for example, with just using bots, or just using low code. Bots are great when you want to eliminate manual data entry to a system you have

Dave Michels 10:56
or write Christmas cards for all your customers. Yes, exactly.

Michael Beckley 10:59
But if you need it, you know, but a bot can only work with a system you have. That’s why you need low code to create the systems you don’t have. If you want to create an entirely new service, a new digital experience, bot isn’t going to help you do that. And so with Appian, we provide a complete picture for process automation and low code. And that includes the bots and the toolkit that allows you to create

Evan Kirstel 11:21
this is fascinating, and I’m fascinated just not by your approach. You’re a publicly traded company, 2500 employees, but this whole space is on fire. And it’s kind of confusing, because there are hundreds of companies now with low code platforms, toolkits, API’s. How do you make sense of this whole space for us here as neophytes in this market?

Michael Beckley 11:45
Yeah. I mean, it’s amazing how the space has evolved. We, you know, we went public five years ago in 2017, our IPO, and we were the first company to IPO as a local platform. And since then, you as you say, there have been hundreds of entrants, big companies, small companies, startups, everyone trying to jump on the bandwagon. And because it’s so effective, and it’s so easy to get into the way we segment the market is we focus on process automation, typically for the mission critical processes for missions that matter, taking care of your customers taking care of regulatory compliance. And we do that by providing the most complete solution for end to end process automation. So there’s a lot of great tools out there that are special purpose for certain niches. But we think that there’s a necessary convergence between, as you say, low code, and bots and AI and people need to have many large organizations need to have governance over all of that chaos. And so they need a complete answer, like Appian

Dave Michels 12:37
locode, is talked about all the time now. Yeah. What is your ecosystem? Now there are certain vendors that you’re often associated with certain kinds of problems or solutions you’re often associated with, how do you segment that low code opportunity to what you’re really best at?

Michael Beckley 12:52
Yeah, so we’re best at, I would say, customer onboarding and regulatory compliance for financial services, insurance and government agencies, around other

Dave Michels 13:02
certain vendors in your ecosystem that you’ve always run into that you were always kind of paired up with? Or

Michael Beckley 13:07
Yes, yes, we ended up always competing with a small number of companies in the high end process automation space, that would be a company like pegah, out of Boston Avenue, right in your backyard in Cambridge. And in the low code space. We’ve seen entries from ServiceNow, and Salesforce as they have expanded beyond CRM and ITSM.

Dave Michels 13:26
Yeah, okay. So I didn’t mean to ask you to talk about your competitors. I was trying to figure out if there are certain vendors that you’re often working with, as part of the solution is there? Oh, sure. Of

Michael Beckley 13:34
course. Yeah. So Twilio, for example, is very commonly a part of the solution, or Avaya, or Genesis. So if you’re thinking about in a contact center perspective, there will be a contact center solution typically and Appian will be the case management and process orchestration, that is providing the intelligence into those interactions. So we expand what you can do with your with the way you engage with their clients. Or on an operations perspective, we’re very frequently used in the middle office and back office for operations, where we will be integrating with Oracle ERP, SAP ERP systems, financial systems, core banking systems. So there’s a host of players there. But if you look at the Appian App Market, you’ll see integrations to hundreds of different systems, because across banking, and insurance, is the winning core insurance right? Company, like guidewires is a strategic partner of Allianz. We’re not trying to replace your core systems. We’re trying to allow you to layer on an agility layer and be able to comply with new regulations as they come out.

Dave Michels 14:34
I’m trying to layer on an agility layer myself.

Evan Kirstel 14:38
Yes, failed. Exactly. Let’s shift a question to the future because as they mentioned, I’m obsessed with chat GPT and open AI at the moment, it may or may not have co written my last 12 blogs. There’s also an element of co creation with Jack TPT. And that is essentially no code or maybe you call it low code. So what say you about the future of AI generated code and all these fascinating initiatives that are popping up? Is that something you’re looking to embrace? Or is it too early or something else?

Michael Beckley 15:10
Well, it’s a bit of everything. I mean, certainly too early and chat GPT is a really cool, fun thing that we’re all playing with it. And we’ve got integrations to already that our engineers are demonstrating. And yet, it’s still not available. And as a commercial product, and it’s still not secure. Everything you give, it isn’t got to be public data. So it’s not ready for primetime. And it’s not ready for regulated business to be conducted with this chat tool. But it does point to the future. And a part of that future is certainly going to be automating more of the creative content creation that we have previously assumed only humans can do. And so as we think about an end end process for creating something like let’s say, one of our clients, s&p global, they’re the ones who are creating all those reports about stocks, and updating you on your investments, and they have an international supply chain creating it, well, you can imagine a future where AI becomes more of a participant in creating that content. And humans are more editing and approving it and validating it, I definitely see chat GPT as a part of that low code future. But I don’t see it yet ready to create applications in a meaningful way. And certainly not meaningful applications. But it’s much more about supplementing, how people can create content of any kind.

Evan Kirstel 16:22
Yeah, Dave, hopefully, you’ll be using chat GPT for to create your newsletters, talking heads and talking points in the future. So tell us when it comes to the buyer of Appian platforms? Is it traditional it the CIO, kind of type? Or is it business groups and

Dave Michels 16:42
sounds like the contact center? Sometimes?

Michael Beckley 16:44
Yeah, there’s there’s a diverse set of buyers. But typically, it’s either an IT decision where the CIO is trying to create a capability and innovation and agility capability. And so they’re making a platform decision to build, you know, bring in Process automation, bring in low code, and say they have a whole backlog of projects that they want to address, or they’re trying to upgrade their ERP, for example. And so they need a way to customize their core systems without having to write more custom code because they’re too busy and distracted doing the, you know, the core systems with their IT developers. And so Appian as a platform allows the it buyer to do a lot more and deliver a lot more for the business quickly and collaborate with the business. But equally common is approach where we’re going directly to the business and solving a specific problem with process automation. So it’s not uncommon that a regulator will say, alright, we find a deficiency with the way you’re handling your risk assessments at the bank, or, you know, there was a headline this morning, one of the big crypto exchanges reached $100 million settlement with the regulators and part of that settlement is they have to actually implement new compliance technology. And so that’s a common time we’ll get a phone call or an email saying, hey, Appian, can you help us out because they don’t want to rip and replace their core customers management systems are their contact center or their their core banking, but their core financial systems, but they can layer on Appian. And we can work with what they have and give them an innovative new way to not only onboard customers quickly, but do it in a regulatory compliant way.

Dave Michels 18:13
So he’s brought up crypto twice now working with MicroStrategy. And the example you just gave, so why not just do what Michael would MicroStrategy did and just put all your money in? And

Michael Beckley 18:26
look, I think Mike sailors is a really creative guy. And I learned a lot working with him 25 years ago, but

Dave Michels 18:32
I’m actually surprised how articulate he is when I listen to an in depth interview he did. And I thought, well, I was just here, these little sound bites from him. You don’t know what’s behind that. But when I actually heard his long form interview, I was actually really impressed. Yeah,

Michael Beckley 18:44
he’s he’s an incredibly brilliant articulate guy. That being said, He’s gambling everything on one thing, and I hope he’s right for his sake and his investors, but as a huge gamble, and frankly, it has nothing to do with our business. We are a software company, we empower people to eliminate risk. And what I have seen is that there is nothing but trouble if you are a gambler out there trying to forecast which way the price of Bitcoin is gonna go. I mentioned crypto only because it’s an example of what is topical and new in regulatory issues challenging our clients in banking and insurance, because customers are expecting that they can use whatever’s new and innovative in payment technology, and their customers demand it and any startups willing to offer it. But that challenges the traditional players who are my clients, the NatWest banks of the world, the five of six top UK banks all use Appian. You know, and the big US banks as well. And so how do they comply with these new regulations? I could have just as easily mentioned ESG, environmental sustainability and governance. Investors today want to do good with their money, that’s a customer demand. They want to be able to not just make money on their investments to be secure their own retirement, but make sure that that money is going to companies that are helping the world not hurting it, helping the environment.

Dave Michels 19:58
So you know, We have customers so far already in this conversation, and lot of them are European. So obviously you go to market in Europe, you’re over here, right? Where are you based?

Michael Beckley 20:09
Yeah, I’m based in our headquarters outside of Washington, DC in McLean, Virginia. But Appian is a global business. And we do significant business in in Europe and in the US, and then Australia and Singapore and Japan.

Dave Michels 20:20
How do you go to market? Are you are you out there personally, at every trade show, are you

Michael Beckley 20:27
as the Chief Technology Officer, I spend a lot of time on more digital sales motions like this. But we do. I was out in London for Appian Europe giving the keynote address to our clients just last month, and we do come and go visit our different country offices around the world. But mostly we you know, we also go through our partner ecosystem, there are hundreds of large system system integrators and specialists who deliver Appian for our clients and deliver their digital transformation projects. So so when

Dave Michels 20:55
they do that, is it still Appian? Or do they rebranded? Or how do you? Yeah, use Appian? Without even realizing it? Yes. So

Michael Beckley 21:02
most of the time, the buyers know it’s Appian. Most of the time, it’s Accenture, or Deloitte or Infosys, or some other global systems integrator that is delivering the project. And then the actual users at a bank, though, they’ll see that it or an insurance company or a government agency, they’ll typically see that it’s the name of whatever branding that that internal initiative has. So they may call that software, whatever cool new acronym is for the change project there. And so that’s the different way in which they may interact with us. There are companies building solutions on Appian that are that are white labeled, but that is not how our core go to market. Typically, you deal with us directly or you know, through a systems integrator.

Evan Kirstel 21:42
You mentioned government a couple of times, yes, I assume that could be stakeout local, federal government, governments overseas. I guess my big question is, can you transform the IRS to get out of closing business practices or No comment?

Michael Beckley 21:57
No, absolutely. We would love to work with the IRS, we’d be happy to help them transform their processes.

Dave Michels 22:02
I’m not sure if sailor likes us would agree with you on that.

Michael Beckley 22:05
Yeah, he’s Yeah, he has his own tax issues. But we work a lot with the US federal government, but we work with over 200 different public sector agencies around the world. So the Texas Department public safety, they’ve transformed the way they do their procurement with APA. And they needed a custom way of writing contracts that would fit with their own rules, and yet allow them to innovate and go fast. And in three months, they were able to implement an entirely new contract writing system in Appian. And they’ve already run $2.6 billion worth of contracts through it. So that’s a perfect example of where you don’t find a good off the shelf contract writing software solution from Microsoft or Oracle or, you know, or anyone else. And yet, you know, you’ve got unique rules, complex rules, it’s big dollar figures, you’ve got to have auditability, governance control, and yet flexibility because it’s all about the mission, you’ve got to be able to get the contracts executed, so people can innovate and be empowered, and not be stuck in the old bureaucracy and paperwork in the past. And so you know, the speed and agility of a process automation platform, like Appian is definitely great for transforming government and helping government agencies implement case management systems as well, just like your typical audience member is working in a contact center and for a large company. The government has many huge call centers themselves trying to help citizens get something done.

Evan Kirstel 23:22
Yeah, don’t tell Dave about not living in the past. He really enjoyed the living in the past part. But another industry I’m interested in I suspect you are as well as healthcare. Health IT there’s the big hims event. I’ll be coming up in April, Chicago, I imagine you have a lot of healthcare clients, given the needs there. What are you seeing there?

Michael Beckley 23:42
Yeah, we do particularly in life sciences and health insurance. What we’re seeing is always a need from the from the pandemic to improve the speed and accuracy of clinical trials, and to bring new drugs and therapies and devices to market. We work with all manner of different medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. And the clinical research outsourcers you know that whole life sciences business has transformed and gone global itself. And that actually creates incredible challenges. Because if you want to even create a new drug and test it, well, you’re working with laboratories around the world, and regulators around the world. And so how do you bring together all the different paperwork requirements, you have to initiate a new clinical trial Appian, automates all that for you and gives you that visibility so that you can any remember, the amount of time a drug spends on market is the way you can pay back that multibillion dollar investment it takes to bring it to market. And so the faster you can bring it to market because your patent starts long before the drug actually is available to safely sell through your distribution. So by shortening that cycle, we can actually help companies get much better return on their investment but also bring those therapies to market help patients faster. And then that leaves more r&d money to help with the next by lowering the barrier to entry for initiating a new drug trial. That means we can More things and help more people, vaccines, obviously top of mind, the Food and Drug Administration in the US is actually standardized on Appian for their low code platform. So we’re trying to help them better inspect facilities around the world who are making these drugs and therapies and vaccines for us, and keeping them safe. So it’s a tremendous area of innovation. But again, anything you do is so constrained by the need for and good need for regulatory compliance. Everything you’re doing affects people’s lives. So we have to have validation that it’s correct. And it’s going to satisfy the needs of all these different stakeholders. That’s our goal of happiness to allow you to be creative and be empowered. And let us automate all that boring paperwork.

Dave Michels 25:42
So if you’re heavily involved in healthcare, there’s something like the pandemic help your business?

Michael Beckley 25:50
It did, it really did. Strangely enough, we saw explosive growth in our business because of the added demand for automation and the added interest in demand for moving faster.

Dave Michels 26:00
Was that primarily from the healthcare or was it more from contact center? Or what caused your business to benefit from the pandemic? Yeah,

Michael Beckley 26:06
well, part of it was the whole need for financial services and insurance to go digital. You know, the idea of going in person to do things was immediately invalidated by the pandemic. And so that whole digitization demand for Process Automation was a huge driver in our core business, but also in any business. And then the life sciences firms and the government agencies were similar. And like I said, that work at the FDA, for example, all that demand and driving interest and focus comes from the, you know, the pandemic for people to see how important that work is. And it’s important to be improved and overhauled. By the same token, we’re talking about a recessionary economy now. And in a recession, well, you have more scrutiny from the regulators, because there’s more risk in the economic environment, and they need to make sure that those banks are solvent, and that they’re not making risky loans. And so, at the same time, customers are, like I said, demanding new technology, and they want speed, your banking, customer, insurance, customer, they want everything to be digital, they want it all to be on their phone, they want it all to be now and they want to pay for it and Bitcoin, apparently. So it’s like, how do you meet the needs for these new digital experiences, but do it in a regulatory compliant way? So you’re not exposing your institution to undue risk? And so that’s, again, driving more interest for us. It’s not uniformly good. I mean, bad times or bad times? If, but there is a silver lining in all of it, especially for a firm like ours.

Evan Kirstel 27:25
Yeah, we need we need more silver linings. You know, a lot of big tech and and startups are downsizing. We see the big consolidating Salesforce announcement riff that was quite a surprise to me. What’s your just general outlook on the market? Are you like Dave has half glass empty? Or are you more half glass full kind of guy this year?

Michael Beckley 27:46
I’m actually incredibly optimistic on this year. You know, I think that, of course, companies that dramatically overexpanded have to pull back and companies that are very large tended to expand even more. And so yeah, it’s I don’t think it’s I wasn’t surprised to see Salesforce have to pull back Amazon has pulled back even more. This is a moment where the very largest companies their only lever, in overall flat growth is to cut costs. A company like ours, well, we’re a big company, you know, 2420 2500 people, we’re not so big that the overall economy is a is a major factor. For us. It’s, it’s much more about what our customers need. And right now, thankfully, because we’ve invested for years in building this data fabric that allows you to innovate without having to rip and replace things, allows you to consolidate systems allows you to be more efficient with our process automation. We’ve anticipated that this would be great technology and good times, but it’s necessary technology and bad times.

Evan Kirstel 28:41

Dave Michels 28:42
You said 23 years you’ve been in businesses. That’s right. Yeah.

Michael Beckley 28:45
1999 We started so that’s

Dave Michels 28:46
a lot of cycles. You’ve seen a lot of a lot of different AI cycles, a lot of different hype cycles. somebody’s heart transplant cycles is that

Michael Beckley 28:54
that’s only I’m only on my second hearts this my I’ve had one heart transplant.

Evan Kirstel 28:58
Alright, so we kind of glossed over that. So I’ve actually never, this was in your bio. So I don’t think we’re asking anything. No, no order. No HIPAA violations here. I’ve never never talked about with someone who had a heart transplant. Explain that process, if you would, because it’s extraordinary.

Michael Beckley 29:15
Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty unusual. It’s about you know, there aren’t too many of us out there. Okay. I had a heart transplant. 12 years ago, I had a genetic heart condition. I inherited a defective heart, if you will. And so I always knew that, you know, this would be either I got a new heart or it would be game over. So my grandfather, he died at age 36. And I got my heart transplant when I was 36. Interesting thing about that is he actually was not able to go off to fight in World War Two like his brothers did, because he was ineligible for the draft due to his heart condition in World War Two. So he went to work with the army on one of the first computers on their electronic accounting machine, they call them back then, you know, punchcard computers and so He passed on that interest in technology to his daughter, my mother. And that stayed with her long after he was gone. And so she sent me and my brother to programming camp when we were kids, were it not for this heart condition, I probably wouldn’t have been coding in basic when I was six years old. And so that’s that’s,

Evan Kirstel 30:16
you know, whose heart you received? Is that part of the process of learning?

Michael Beckley 30:21
Yeah, so it’s an anonymous process. But as a as a recipient, you have the opportunity to send a letter to the donor family. And in my case, they also wanted to meet me. So that matching happens voluntarily on both sides, you know, both the the family has to want to meet you, and you have to want to meet them. And so I’ve had the privilege to meet my donor family, there are incredible people. And my donor, his name was is Travis Burch. And he was a 19 year old boy who had just graduated from high school and his whole future in front of him, he had just enlisted in the Navy, wanted to see the world. And yet he had the thought and the selflessness to decide that he was gonna be an organ donor. And so he, you know, he told his mother that if anything happened to him, at least he was going to save a bunch of people anyway. And unfortunately, that’s what happened. It’s just so humbling. When you when you meet people like this, their families, obviously make them that way. And so it’s a real privilege. It’s like having another family.

Evan Kirstel 31:14
Yeah, it’s amazing. I’m getting chills just hearing your story. Thanks so much. I often say to Dave Michaels get a hawk have a heart but really doesn’t listen. Well. Do you still code Do you still Yeah, all those years ago basic I coded in basic Of course, that’s I still level of my knowledge. But do you get the time to write was it on a trs 80? It was on a crash ad? Yeah.

Michael Beckley 31:37
Yeah. So I learned to code on Apple twos, I had the distinct joy of having Steve Wozniak be our keynote speaker at an ambient event a few years back, and I’ll tell a quick story about Steve. He’s a prankster. He’s always been a prankster. And so the way he got at me was, I had given him and his team, all of the questions I was going to ask him on stage ahead of time. And I’d put a whole lot into this because of course, he’s inspiration of mine is, you know, a great innovator and an entrepreneur. And, and so I found questions that no one had asked him in public stages before, right. And so he goes up and gives a little speech before and right before he goes onstage, he says to me, I really enjoyed the questions you came up with, they were, you know, creative and different. You know, this is really great. And we’re gonna have a great interview. And he goes up on stage and proceeds to change his routine speech and answer eight of the 10 questions that I had planned to write and ask him. And then he turns and says, No, come on, on stage, Mike.

Evan Kirstel 32:37
That’s thinking quick on your feet. That sounds like a Steve Jobs move, not a wise move that something was or do you but he did, he would have done

Michael Beckley 32:45
was did it with love. Okay, he did. So, and he gave me a big hug afterwards, always really, you know, sweet guy. And I don’t mean to bust him on that. I just think that it was. He’s someone who truly loves technology. And do I still code, I do it for fun. I’ve got hundreds of fantastic engineers, computer scientists, experts here who are delivering high quality code. And that allows an amateur like me to focus on having fun with code and

Dave Michels 33:11
DC, are they all over the world,

Michael Beckley 33:13
most of them are here in our headquarters in Washington, DC, which is another unusual and different thing about Appian. But we have grown by a couple of recent acquisitions, I added a data science team in Berlin, we are incredibly excited to work with them and their process mining experts, German process experts makes a lot of sense. And so we had that opportunity to acquire this great group of data scientists, you know, to get 50 of them all at once. You know, it’s a rare thing. So we’re excited to have them as part of the team. And before that, a couple of years ago, we we also found a fantastic team of robotic process automation experts in Spain. And so we have a development center in severe and we have a development center in Berlin. And this year, I know after 23 years, we just opened our first Dev Center in India. And so we’re growing. We’ve been there. I have not been there now. And you know, I would love to go see it.

Dave Michels 34:00
Yeah, I think I think you need to have an idol accompany you on that.

Evan Kirstel 34:04
Speaking of trips, any any trips planned, is there an Appian world coming up or some other cool event that you’re heading out to the next month or two or three? Well,

Michael Beckley 34:13
so Appian Europe just happened in London, Appian. world this year will be at the end of April, beginning of May, I think and that will be in San Diego. This

Evan Kirstel 34:21
alright, I can use a trip to San Diego. What do you think they?

Dave Michels 34:24
Yeah, I think I think

Michael Beckley 34:26
I think we’d love to have you out in San Diego. It’s a fantastic venue a great place to come learn a lot more about what our customers are doing with process automation and low code. Yeah. Well, thanks

Evan Kirstel 34:36
so much.

Dave Michels 34:37
That’s in Diego, of course, is a big naval town.

Michael Beckley 34:40
It is. Yeah. I mean, AFCEA. West will be coming up in February. And I’m sure we’ll be exhibiting there.

Evan Kirstel 34:45
Great. Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks so much for joining us and educating us and Dave in particular on automating no code and having a heart and all that good stuff. Was really actually This is great conversations one of my favorite over the last few months. So thanks so much Michael for joining us. And we’ll be watching all things IBM. It’s fascinating journey.

Michael Beckley 35:09
Thanks for the invite Evan and Dave, look forward to it. Thank you. All right.

Dave Michels 35:15
Well, that was one of our first interviews I think that really had some heart

Evan Kirstel 35:18
to that was quite upon that was a good one, or a bad one depending on your perspective. But yeah, a company that you know many of us haven’t heard of is killing it. Again, no pun intended. When it comes to this whole space and may shine the light on opportunities in the UCAS and telco and communication space you know, people need more tools.

Dave Michels 35:39
I think that’s really important because so much of the UCAS technology and the CTSA nology is really becoming more mature and the opportunity is more around these adjacencies and bringing it bringing all these pieces together. So I thought Michael really had some great insights on that low code no code man is the future

Evan Kirstel 35:56
well not for us we’re too old to code in any language but definitely for many out there it is indeed the future and we’ll see you next episode

Unknown Speaker 36:06
you can make a conversation

Unknown Speaker 36:17
them I gotta get out of the phone. Don’t don’t read your phone. No man knows me.

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