Digital Transformation: It’s a Process, Not a Finish Line

On Wednesday, the General Session at Appian World 2017 filled up fast, as record-breaking skier and polar explorer Ben Saunders took to the stage to share some amazing stories about his success on the trail, and his remarkable South Pole expedition.

Along the way, he joked about getting really good at dragging heavy things around cold places. And about how the career aspirations of polar explorers are limited by the fact that there are only two poles to explore. And both, as Saunders mentioned, were discovered long before he was born.

One of the things Saunders focused on was his keys to success, and the importance of setting big goals. But, for me, the big takeaway was that success is not a finish line. It’s a process. Distinguishing yourself from competitors, coming out on top, it’s mostly about focusing on execution. Not just outcomes.

It turns out the same is true of digital transformation.

In many cases, digital transformation leaders must overcome the challenge of getting difficult things done in difficult environments. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is a case in point. CME owns and operates the the largest options and futures trading exchange in the world, along with the Chicago Board of Trade, the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), and COMEX.

Before Appian, CME had a problem with inefficient workflow. Pushing spreadsheets around just wasn’t cutting it anymore. The IT leaders decided against custom coding, because it wasn’t a core competency. And, went with a low-code platform instead. CME piloted their first BPM solution using Appian in the Cloud. This was followed up with an aggressive schedule of application rollouts. In a difficult, highly-regulated environment, the company was able to transform its processes to:

  • Introduce hundreds of new products annually, across multiple departments
  • Launch a cloud-based BPM prototype app in just 12 weeks
  • Reduce time to market from 8-10 weeks down to 2-4 weeks

The best path to digital transformation allows developers to focus less on the back-office mechanics of process automation, and more on business activities that create business value. This is precisely how a major wireless carrier overcame the challenge of accelerating deployment of some 70,000 mini cell phone towers to boost coverage. (Watch the video).

Before Appian, provisioning a new cell tower could take up to 30 days.  But, with a low-code powered iBPMS (Intelligent Business Process Management Suite) from Appian, this carrier was able to streamline the thousands of business processes involved in provisioning a new cell site.

Long story short, this leading carrier was able to reduce their data collection, analysis and reporting times from 30 days to 7 days… and deploy their low-code solution in just 3 weeks. Which represented a remarkable improvement in operational process.

By 2025, banks could lose 60 percent of their profits in consumer finance, 34 percent in payments and small business lending, 30 percent in wealth management and 20 percent in mortgages, according to McKinsey’s 2015 Global Banking Annual Review.

The most successful banks are harnessing low-code digital transformation to improve customer experiences, and stay ahead of the risk and compliance curve as well.   

Case in point: Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, a leading Australian national bank with 1.6 million customers and $66 billion in assets. Bendigo adopted Appian’s low-code development platform to roll out 23 tier-one enterprise applications at the speedy rate of one app per month. (See the video)

“Our vision is to make our customers’ journey completely seamless, regardless of which part of our bank they interact with,” said Andrew Watts, Executive for Customer Service Improvement, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. “The speed at which Appian helped us develop and deliver these mission-critical applications made them the ideal partner to bring our vision to life.”

Which leads us right back where we started, which is to succeed at digital transformation, focus on process, not outcomes.


Roland Alston