Data everywhere demands data automation.
Software runs on data. In more precise terms, software code is a form of data itself, but once built (developed) in the form of an application, we can say that software ingests, deduplicates, processes, coalesces, combines, analyzes and amalgamates various forms of data in order to execute its application functions, or to work as some lower-level service. 
Coming full circle then, all software code is composed of data and all software runs on data… and, further, some software works to manage, maintain, move and occasionally manhandle data. Given the rise of low-code software platforms, it is perhaps natural to expect enterprise data itself to now also be given an automation boost.
As we know by now, low-code software offers a means set of software application development tooling that champions the use of shortcuts, template-based toolsets and pre-defined routes. This is not drag-and-drop programming (which is closer to being achievable in no-code), but there is some drag-and-drop functionality, especially at the User Interface (UI) development level.
Among the prime movers in the low-code market to first explain its position on low-code data automation is Appian. 
The company has this month tabled its Appian Low-code Automation Platform as a means of unifying enterprise data. This is a predominantly code-free means of delivering complete automation for data; it also works to handle tasks associated with orchestrating people, existing systems, bots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a single workflow. 
“Building low-code apps is simple and visual, but integrating data still requires a host of database skills — until now. Appian makes integrating data as easy as building apps. Source data from anywhere, without needing to migrate it. Visually combine, extend and model relationships between varied data sources and automatically optimize data sets for performance, without coding or database programming,” notes the Appian developer team, in a press statement. 
In an effort to make sure it covers data automation at all levels, Appian has incorporated some breadth in this new product release and looked to span the world of data as it resides in data models, databases and – at user proximity level – documents.
As such, the company has engineered features including enhanced AI-driven Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), new design guidance and developer collaboration features and enhanced DevSecOps (developer, security, operations) capabilities.
“Appian strips away the complexities of working with the most advanced automation technologies so we can focus on making our member experience the best it can be. We were able to build our first Appian RPA [Robotic Process Automation] job in just four days, integrated with our people processes and Appian AI. Simplifying data design is going to have a huge impact for us so I am looking forward to the new release with low-code data,” said Matt Richard, CIO at Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), a 500,000-member union of workers in construction, postal and other industries.
With so much talk of low-code and the technology industry’s predilection for accelerators, shortcuts and cloud-based as-a-Service “don’t worry about it, let the cloud drive you” services, it would not be unreasonable to ask how quickly IT teams can actually build software with these advancements. Appian says that all current data automation enhancements here support the Appian Guarantee, which aims to deliver a customer’s first project live in just eight weeks with a flat services fee. 
The aforementioned Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) technology from Appian offers “straight-through processing” of large volumes of unstructured data. The company’s IDP now features native Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to securely extract data from documents without third-party software or services. In combination with the Appian native, pre-trained, and constantly-learning AI models, the firm claims that IDP can eliminate manual processing in any workflow.
Appian founder and CEO Matt Calkins has discussed the rapid acceleration of the business community and the period of constant change that businesses are still facing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In many cases, while we don’t know if future business systems will ever be the same, we do know that they will be more remotely interconnected and so more data-centric.
“Data integration may be the most difficult part of application development. With low-code data, data silos are no longer a mystery – Appian automatically identifies each element and makes them easy to select and integrate into new applications. Data expertise is not required, even if you’re selecting and combining elements from different data sources,” said Calkins.
So what’s next? After low-code and no-code, can we expect some form of negative-code where applications start to self-build and generate a level of additional programming logic that ends up sitting in some kind of ‘free extras’ repository for when we need it?
The way software is drinking in AI and becoming more predictive, more proactive and more self-perpetuating, that notion could certainly form part of what we see in the ‘what to expect in 2022’ technology predictions list.
Let’s keep our minds open, after all, negative-code would be a positive.
Appian CEO Matt Calkins: Divining divinity in data source diversity.


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