What happened

Shares of Appian (APPN 2.61%) were moving higher today after the company announced the latest version of its core product, the Appian Low-Code Automation Platform. The news comes after a record rally in the stock last month, driven by an impressive third-quarter earnings report and a short squeeze in the stock.

As a result, the stock was up 12:05 p.m. EST.

CEO Matt Calkins speaking at a conference

Image source: Appian.

So what

Calling it the first unified platform for hyperautomation, Appian said the new version offers significant enhancements to its low-code robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, and process automation. Low-code software, a category in which Appian is the leader, allows enterprises to quickly launch applications with little or no code. Appian's patented Self-Assembling Interface Layer (SAIL) technology, the low-code industry's fastest and easiest way to put together an enterprise application, forms the basis of the new unified platform.

Appian chief technology officer Michael Beckley said, "Through the course of 2020, the urgency for fast and powerful process automation became undeniable as organization struggled with the distributed workforces, broken processes, and inaccessible data brought by the COVID-19 pandemic." 

Low code appears to be having a moment this year and investors are increasingly bullish on the prospects for the technology, helping to drive the stock's recent gains. Indeed, as Beckley said, the pandemic has sparked an acceleration in a number of technological shifts, including to low code, as companies have needed to deploy new applications quickly. Tech research firm Forrester predicted that by the end of next year 75% of application development will come on low-code platforms, up from 44% this year.

Appian's cloud subscription revenue growth accelerated to 40% in its most recent quarter, showing it's benefiting from the transition to low code.

Now what

After the stock's explosive growth last month, Appian shares are likely to be volatile over the near term and shares have already pulled back significantly from their peak. However, today's news shows why those gains are justified and Appian deserves a multiple closer to some of the high-flying SaaS stocks that have captivated the market. The company is a leader an emerging segment of cloud software and that should drive strong growth over the coming quarters.