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Transforming at Appian World 2018

By Nick McCarthy

Getting ready for the Keynote

Another year and another Appian World has come and gone. I’d be anticipating our annual event for all things Appian more than Christmas day on the year when the Super Nintendo video game system released, and now that it’s over, I have the blues. When I was a kid, I would get super excited about Christmas day. Yet when Christmas had passed, I’d have the post-holiday January blues. No matter how much I’ve grown up, I still feel that way during the first week or two of January. So, for me, these next two weeks are just like January, except without the snow.

One year ago, I was still an Appian newbie — just finishing our internal platform training — when our annual event “for all things Appian” was taking place. This “annual event” was a hot topic of discussion among the veteran Appianites I had met. I was still a newbie, though, and still being in training meant that I would not have the chance to be a part of the action that year. Thus, my year long focus became attending this year’s Appian World, the “annual event” everyone had been talking about.

Just like the training montage in a boxing film, I spent the year getting my skills up to snuff so I that could attend. Well, I did attend, and I had an absolute blast! The only problem is: now that it’s over, I’m about to spend another year looking forward to the next conference! So, since you’re already here, let’s take a look at some highlights of this year, to help stave off the blues a little longer…

the AppianWomen sponsored 5K Running team

The theme for this year’s Appian World, as stated proudly in our promotional material, was Transform. All over the event, the theme of Transformation was on display, namely:

  • The new drag and drop interface designer, build to make developing Appian applications even easier
  • New integrations with transforming technologies like blockchain and AI (but don’t expect to see the launch of AppianCoin anytime soon)
  • The launch of a new Appian-designed and built solution: the Intelligent Call Center
  • Announcement of our new headquarters, which will allow Appianites to work together in a more unified manner
  • And many more!
Shots that didn’t make the @appianlife Instagram feed

Excitement from our internal folks caught on quickly with the attendees, who were equally excited to see the new ideas being implemented (and then work with them in a more hands-on manner). This is not an exaggeration: my laptop got borrowed at least a dozen times by attendees wanting to try some of our new design tools. By the end of the conference, a number of the attendees who were new to Appian were already dreaming up solutions they could build on the platform to make their lives easier.

One thing our planning team excelled at was making sure that there was plenty to do — from the hands-on labs, to the Woz keynote — and all the items in-between. While my personal favorite was the Getting Started with Appian workshop hosted by Josh Aufrichtig and another guy (whose name currently escapes me), there was so much more to see.

Many attendees tried out new features in the hands-on labs as well as our new tech on display in the demo booths. At the conference opening, our CEO Matt Calkins gave a powerful keynote which simultaneously set the tone for the conference and our company. Later in the conference, our hackathon participants displayed the results of their labors while our “Developer Jam” let you listen to three presentations in a silent disco style (the Developer Jam was a bunch of very technical presentations geared towards IT-centric Appian developers). The AppianWOMEN organization sponsored a 5K and a Women’s Leadership Luncheon, which was amazing (and I anticipate that the attendance will be even bigger next year). The “Partner Pavilion” gave our partners a chance to show their wares, presenting tons of possibilities to attendees, while John Foley, a former US Navy Blue Angel gave an amazing talk.

In the evenings, there was much merriment, mingling and networking, with the featured event being hosted at the Perez Art Museum. Appian World Protip: if you skipped dinner, the make-your-own-sundae bar is not especially good for those like me are watching our figures. (yes, the calories still count if you use ice cream as a meal replacement).

There was so much more to see and do that my blog post here could never hope to capture it all. We even had two Instagram accounts covering the event, @appiancorp and @appianlife (the latter run by yours truly) doing our best to give you a good idea of what it was like to be there. The sun shone on Miami, despite the rainy forecasts, and the Fontainebleau was an amazing host to what turned out to be a stunning event. I’ve never actually attended a poolside business meeting before, but now that I have, I’m going to have trouble returning to a conference room. Teddy, the unofficial-official dog of Appian World, made a stunning debut, and should be running the @appianlife Instagram account soon (just kidding).

Above all, however, it was the people that shone the most. I met many Appianites who I’d only known via email or conference calls, and interacted with a number of our clients. I don’t think I’ve ever been around so much positive energy in a business situation. The atmosphere was infectious, exciting, and well-defines the Appian community: a group of individuals who care passionately about making and using excellent software a.k.a., #AppianLIFE.

Appian World has come and gone, and now we only have one thing to look forward to: Appian World 2019 in San Diego! Merry Appian World and hope to see you next year!

Transforming at Appian World 2018 was originally published in AppianLIFE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Published on May 3, 2018

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