Guy Mettrick and Mike Heffner on low-code's future in consulting

28 January 2020 8 min. read

Demand for low-code platforms is at an all-time high, with the easy-to-use technology helping organisations across the business spectrum rapidly roll out new applications for clients while finding IT efficiency savings. Representing low-code market leader Appian, Guy Mettrick and Mike Heffner spoke to about what the future holds for low-code in the consulting industry.

A low-code automation platform is software that provides an environment programmers use to create application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional computer programming. To lay people, that might still sound intimidatingly complex, but to put it in simpler terms, low-code platforms provide figurative building blocks, with which clients can construct a customised application at pace, and without having to re-invent the wheel each time a new project begins.

While the technology is still quite new and relatively unheard of in day-to-day life, it might be surprising to hear that low-code is one of the world’s fastest growing software markets. By the estimations of Forrester Research, the total spending on the category is forecasted to hit $21.2 billion by 2022, representing a compound annual growth rate of roughly 40%. Indeed, according to Guy Mettrick – Practice Leader of Financial Services for the Appian Corporation – this quiet revolution is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.


Speaking to, Mettrick explained, “In the UK there have been statements by analysts like Gartner that basically say, ‘In the next four years, 65% of all new application development will be done on low-code. Even from where we are now, that represent phenomenally huge growth; an exponential level of growth in the use of low-code platforms to deliver new solutions in the future. And that’s across industry, not just finance but every organisation in every kind of discipline.”

Appian Corporation is a cloud computing company currently headquartered in Tysons, Virginia, part of the Dulles Technology Corridor. It is a leader in the low-code automation market, selling a Platform as a Service which its customers can use for building enterprise their own software applications. Mettrick – who has been with Appian since 2016 and is responsible for its go to market strategy for financial services within Europe – explained that one of the key drivers of this trend is the massive growth in the need for new applications digitalisation has brought with it.

As numerous markets are disrupted by digitally savvy newcomers able to improve their efficiency and customer experience by leveraging applications, long-term market incumbents are also having to up their app-game, and Mettrick contended that there were “not enough programmers in the world” to keep up with that level of demand. As a result, more and more firms are turning to low-code to enable the programmers they already have to become more productive.

What is more, the demand for low-code does not seem to be effected by the UK’s sluggish economic performance. In the last three years, on-going uncertainty surrounding Brexit has caused some clients to delay investing in large programmes, as they are feeling the heat from falling exports, declining foreign investment, and inflation – something which has in turn stifled the performance of Britain’s consulting sector.

“Part of the driving force behind low-code’s up-take is the need to do more with fewer resources,” Mettrick explained. “In areas where cost is a really important decision criterion, there is a real efficiency benefit to be gained by using low-code. Low-code can accelerate the change companies need, delivering changes they need while managing the cost and risk associated with large project much more effectively.”

“In the next 4 years, 65% of all new application development will be done on low-code.”
– Guy Mettrick

On top of this, he added that a lot of the existing IT budget of firms “is simply keeping the lights on – keeping old systems running and effective in an organisation.” Mettrick stated that low-code interacts well with existing infrastructure, allowing companies to deliver robust changes while not disrupting their existing infrastructure – making the automation process much more coherent than in the past.

Due to this ability to help organisations adapt to change quickly, while avoiding large-scale disruption of pre-existing systems, Appian has already proven highly popular in the financial sector. However, while Appian might initially have verticalised predominantly in the banking industry, the company has since moved into insurance, life-sciences, pharmaceuticals, health-care, the public sector, and global defence. Another area where the company is enjoying rapid growth is the consulting sector.

Low-code consulting

Mike Heffner is a former consultant himself, having spent four years with Accenture, where he was latterly a Senior Manager. Having joined Appian in 2014, Heffner now finds himself as the firm’s Vice President for Global Industry Leads, overseeing a team of 15 professionals in addressing digital transformation challenges across its key verticals. While he might be in a different sector now, however, he asserted that he feels his consulting days set him up well for life at Appian.

“I think my entire career has been defined by how to enable change and make things better,” Heffner explained. “Regarding my time with Accenture, I was part of a group called Creating Financial Markets Advantage – it was like a think-tank of industry capital markets banking experts advising customers on change. One of the key lessons I learned there was that driving change – especially in highly complex organisations like financial services firms – is never easy. At the same time, while there are many different factors at play, one universal truth is that speed matters. The faster you change, the faster you see results, the faster you create this fly-wheel effect of generating momentum. Nothing breeds success like success.”

As mentioned previously, agility is central to Appian’s offering – something which has made it increasingly attractive to consulting firms looking to help their clients compete in the age of disruption. According to Heffner, this means that a number of consulting firms are now offering some of the core of what they do on behalf of their customers via Appian.

“The consulting community is more in-tune with digital's promise than any other community.”
– Mike Heffner

“The consulting community is more in-tune with the promise of digital than just about any other community. They’re advising their customers on digital every day, so what we’ve encountered is them becoming our customers. We’re incredibly proud of our ecosystem of consultancies. KPMG are our partner of the year, and have been several years running; at the same time we have emerging work with firms like Accenture, PwC and Deloitte.”

This is being seen in a number of different ways due to the versatility of Appian’s platform. Heffner explained that, while the firm knows “what Appian is good at,” and that it can be used on its own, it also has huge potential when being used in combination with other software. The company is aware that “we fit very well with complex architectures, where it’s always a combination of something else with Appian that delivers value” – and this is also helping to drive growth. One illustration of this is how consultancies are using Appian to help clients address changes to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor).

Heffner concluded. “There literally aren’t enough attorneys in the world to deal with all the contract and policy changes that have to be evaluated, as driven by the shift away from Libor. It’s a financial liability not to address it, so a number of partners – such as KPMG – have leading artificial intelligence that allows them to evaluate what’s in a document sitting in a server, before unifying it with Appian. Appian applies rules based on who the customer is, which domicile they are, which product is being talked about before determining if it as simple as amending the contract and sending a customer an FYI, or if it needs to be run through a more elaborate case-management process. That’s one great example of how our technology is overlapping with their technology to solve problems.”