Appian Releases Findings in Digital Transformation Readiness Survey – DZone DevOps

As part of a online survey in October 2017, the results of 463 respondents were processed by Appian to generate their 2018 Digital Transformation Readiness Survey. The goal of the survey was to gain an understanding of the current state of digital transformation and offer predictions for the next 12 months. As a part of the analysis, Appian realized that despite being optimistic about the future of digital transformation, respondents face significant hurdles with meeting current business demand, providing a competitive edge, and driving innovation.

This article will dive into some of the key findings from the publication.

By the Numbers

Of the corporations that responded to the DevOps survey, eight out of ten indicated they lack the ability to attract and retain the necessary software engineering staff required to provide innovative technology to the organization. What is just as troubling is that seven out of ten organizations indicated an inability to scale their solutions to meet the growing business demands in the short term. Finally, nine out of ten respondents indicated their organizations have a valid concern over the level of technical debt.

These three indicators paint a grim future where three out of four corporations participating face staffing, scalability, and maintainability issues:

  • The ability to attract and retain quality staff requires far more than meeting salary expectations – as more software engineers seek benefits like 90 – 100% working remotely, relaxed dress codes and fewer restrictions when architecting systems.

  • Often, scalability issues stem from a lack of understanding the needs and potential growth when architecting applications. It is important to recognize that the fault does not always fall on the development team, as project sponsors or executive management have the ability to force an undesirable direction.

  • With technical debt, I have always been a fan of reserving 10 – 20% of a team’s capacity during a development iteration to focus on technical debt. However, without full buy-in to this concept, it is easy for technical debts to quickly rise to an unmanageable state.

The Silver Lining

From an optimistic perspective, the respondents indicated that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Natural Language Processing are the top three areas that will become a key to digital transformation over the next five years.

Use of AI in this context could take Big Data to the next level, analyzing volumes of data using a supervised learning approach. The data returned or generated from IoT devices can provide additional metrics at a reasonable cost – leveraging technologies such as smart devices, RFIDs, and even wearables. Natural language processing in time may become the catalyst to bridge the gap between man and machine – enabling a natural conversation with AI.

The challenge here is that these same corporations recognize their current limitations – which make the thought of successfully introducing futuristic concepts seem somewhat out of range … without some base system or process to build upon.

Where Appian Fits In

A majority of the 2018 Digital Transformation Readiness Survey focuses on the challenges facing organizations, making the candid reader ask the question ” how does Appian fit into this analysis?” A single page of the publication focuses on Appian’s low-code solution, which comprises a majority of the “Looking for a Better Way” section. This is found on page 18 of the report, for those who have downloaded the report.

The promise with the Appian low-code solution is that solutions can be delivered faster, without requiring a significant investment in software engineering staff to maintain scalability. Since low-code solutions use set pre-built elements or components, the theory is that less technical debt will be accumulated going forward.

As a result, the need to attract and retain software engineering staff is lessened, the scalability concerns are less exposed and technical debt growth will be reduced – when compared to custom solution development. With the three primary concerns being met, Appian’s low-code solution puts organizations in a much better position to provide a faster turnaround with meeting the needs of the organization.


The 2018 Digital Transformation Readiness Survey can be downloaded here. Keep in mind, you will be required to provide information about yourself/your corporation before gaining access to the document.

If nothing else, corporations facing the challenges noted in this document should find some degree of comfort knowing they are not the only entity facing these challenges. However, as time continues to move forward, these problems will only become compounded. Looking at a low-code development solution, like Appian, to help lessen the pain is certainly worth the minor investment in time to perform a research spike during your next sprint or development iteration. Like all other technology solutions, a strong understanding of the solution – including where it makes sense to use/not use – is important for a successful implementation.

Have a really great day!


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