What happened

Shares of Appian (NASDAQ:APPN) gained 33.6% in value last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, after announcing the acquisition of Noyayre Solutions SL, maker of the highest-rated Jidoka robotic process automation (RPA) software platform. 

Investors loved the prospects for this addition to Appian's fast-growing business and wasted no time sending the share price higher.

A team of employees sitting around a conference room table working on laptops

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The company that makes building apps feel more like playing with LEGO blocks instead of a task meant only for computer science geeks just stretched its lead a lot further with this acquisition. 

As Appian CEO Matt Calkins explained, "Appian is extending our lead in low-code automation by adding RPA." He added, "Together, the products enable end-to-end process orchestration where humans, software robots, and [artificial intelligence] all work together in a coordinated way."

Now what

Appian is on a mission to simplify and save businesses a lot of money by automating much of the process of creating software. Calkins wants app development to be more like drawing a picture, while Appian's platform handles the rest.

It's a huge growth opportunity. The RPA market is estimated to reach $12 billion by 2023, according to market research firm Forrester. This is multiples of what Appian makes in a year. Management has guided for full-year revenue to be between $154 million and $154.5 million, guidance that was issued along with third-quarter earnings in October. 

There is plenty of upside for this promising small-cap grower.