K2: Serious ambition and credentials for business process automation

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K2’s process application platform has undergone a few extensions and changes in its near 20-year history, but following its successful 2015 venture funding round its technology capability, applicability and business credibility have all developed quickly.

Top takeaways

“Automating every business process in every organisation”

The K2 platform has been around for a long time: its first release was in 2001.

In 2015, though, after nearly 20 years as an organically-funded business, the company raised over $150m in venture funding. Since then K2 has become much more ambitious and aggressive: it now says its mission is to “automate every business process in every organisation”. K2 has been using this money to build and launch a new cloud platform, as well as growing its global sales and marketing capabilities. The company, now headquartered in Bellevue WA, USA, has over 400 employees; its applications are used by around 1.5m users at around 4,000 organisations across over 80 countries.

A platform with wide applicability and serious credentials

With its latest K2 Platform release, K2 is starting to match its longstanding application platform technology strengths with a real business development push. By embracing a true PaaS subscription and delivery model and embracing web-based design and administration tools – and by enhancing the platform’s openness through provision of OData and REST-based interfaces – the K2 Platform now has much wider practical applicability than it had a couple of years ago, and multiple customer stories demonstrating huge K2 application portfolios bear this out.

There’s more that K2 needs to do if it wants to address the very ‘high end’ of application delivery program complexity, as it wants to – but nevertheless, even today K2 is worthy of serious consideration for most kinds of process application development project.

A long-established process application platform vendor, now accelerating

The company behind the K2 brand – SourceCode Technology Holdings – was originally founded in 1998 in South Africa. It released its first product – the first release of the K2 platform – in 2001. In 2015, after nearly 20 years as an organically-funded business, the company raised over $150m in venture funding (from Francisco Partners); it’s been using this money to build and launch a new cloud platform, as well as growing its global sales and marketing capabilities. The company, now headquartered in Bellevue WA, USA, has over 400 employees; its applications are used by around 1.5m users at around 4,000 organisations across over 80 countries.

Following its venture funding in 2015, K2 has become much more ambitious and aggressive: it now says its mission is to “automate every business process in every organisation”. For many years, K2 technologies were designed and promoted with very strong alignment to Microsoft’s ecosystem and platforms – with a particular focus on adding value to SharePoint. Today, although it’s still built on Microsoft technology, the K2 offering is less explicitly promoted as being about adding value to Microsoft platforms and applications. In addition, where the offering used to be aimed at helping organisations address business-critical processes, with new product and marketing developments it’s started to focus increasingly on helping organisations address their ‘long-tail’ business process automation opportunities, too. Some of its customers now have well over 500 business process applications now implemented with K2 technology.

K2 doesn’t have any particular geographical focus for its business, though the US accounts for the bulk of its revenue; likewise, it doesn’t have any particular industry focus, but it does have industry-specific teams focused on promoting K2’s suitability for manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, legal and oil & gas industries, as well as the public sector.

Inside K2’s offering: the K2 Platform

The K2 Platform is a process application platform that the company offers in two ways: cloud-based subscription (K2 Cloud) and on-premises installation (currently called K2 Five).

As mentioned above, the first K2 product was launched in 2001, though it delivered its first full-featured process application platform – K2 blackpearl – in 2007. For many years, the K2 technology focused principally on delivering business process applications based around three core capabilities: forms, workflow and data management. Customers needed to use Windows-based graphical design tools to specify application components, which were compiled and deployed as Windows applications (typically alongside SharePoint).


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