Appian (APPN -2.08%) is a low-code software company that's been in business for more than 20 years. With a long record of growth, Appian has built a strong reputation with customers.

In this interview with CEO Matt Calkins aired on Nov. 24, he explains to Motley Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman how Appian has been able to deliver strong customer retention and satisfaction.

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Jeremy Bowman: Maybe just to get started for some of our investors and readers who aren't so familiar with Appian. Why don't you tell us a little bit what is Appian and what you guys do?

Matt Calkins: Yeah, Appian's a software company. We make a platform, and that platform is called a low-code platform. Maybe you've heard about it. It's gotten a lot more popular in the last couple of years, but low-code is a new and different way of creating an application or process. In the past, you would have created your own application by coding it. You'd write the code, you'd use a keyboard, it would take a long time, and it would be complicated. Now with low-code, instead of typing it, you draw it. You draw a picture. It looks like a flowchart, expressing the logic of what your application should do. You've got lines, arrows, boxes, a start node, and an end node and in all, it's just a flowchart.

A flowchart is a better way to make a software application for a couple of reasons. It means that more people are capable of participating in creating new software. It also means that those who create software can be maybe 10 times or more as productive because it's so easy and fast to create and modify these applications, that they are empowered to create many more of them. That's going to be a big help and a big change in our economy because right now there's a shortage of developers. Organizations need to change faster than they ever have before, and low-code comes along at the right time to empower that kind of change.

Jeremy Bowman: That's sounds good. I think Appian, as one of the things that interested me about it is that it seems you guys are at a lot of tipping points as far as low-code, to speak, has been picking up a lot of steam since the pandemic started, it sounds like, and then you just made an acquisition in process mining.

Matt Calkins: Yeah.

Jeremy Bowman: I know you guys are pretty excited about what you're doing there. Can you tell us about that?

Matt Calkins: Yeah, definitely. I think the last two years have been a trial for all businesses around the world. Businesses have been tested to see if they could change fast enough to keep up with events. There have been new health expectations, new regulations, new customer buying patterns, everything is changing. Businesses are having to learn to be good at change, good at habit change, behavioral change, the change that you have to do in software. They're all getting good at that.

Our goal in the midst of this revolution around the world is to offer those businesses the tool they need. I call it a change engine. The point of our change engine is to make it as easy as possible for an organizations to modify its behavior from -- and it's not just workflow. In the past, we've done just workflow, but we've changed now. We've added to our suite. It starts with workflow, and that's the most important part because it is still the most intuitive way for a person to instruct the machine. It's the best way to program. It's so fast.

However, that's not where we start any longer. We now begin, as you mentioned, with process mining, which is a technology that scans the usage logs of the systems your employees use to figure out where inefficiency exists. It detects patterns and it gives you recommendations, and we can translate that. We can address those recommendations with workflow. We can detect the problem and then we can address the problem in the same platform.

We now start with process mining and we don't stop at workflow. Actually, we go beyond it. Workflow is the delegator. Workflow is a strategy, it's a planner, but it doesn't do the work itself. Instead, people do the work and also digital workers do the work. We've expanded our platform so that we now ship natively with all the digital workers like robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, intelligent document processing, business rules. These all together I call automation. They are the ways of getting work done when a person doesn't do the work. Generally that's done in concert with people delegating and routing and handling exceptions. It's a team, and you need an orchestrator to run that team. The orchestrator is workflow and the team is automation.

In a nutshell, what we've gotten now is, we start with discovery and we finished with execution. We can take you from one end to the other in creating your new processes. That's the purpose of the change engine. To totally handle the change you need to do, and to do it in an integrated synergistic way so that there is as little friction and slowdown as possible.

Jeremy Bowman: That sounds good. It sounds like it's a pretty big time-saver for businesses.

Matt Calkins: I believe it is. We say it's a 10X, and the data actually makes it look better than 10X from what we've seen.