Dec 17, 2020

Low code business apps are helping drive business recovery

Malcolm Carroll
5 min
low code dx
Businesses will need to adapt fast as they scramble to recover from Covid-19. Low code apps will help, says Malcolm Carroll...

A great deal of media attention has been placed on the negative impact of Covid-19, but many businesses are now focusing on recovery and how they will operate successfully in the post Covid-19 world. They want to ensure their business has a sound basis for economic recovery and in a significant number of cases this has included the creation and timely introduction of innovative business apps.

Increasingly, companies are now seeing apps as a way of responding to the challenges of the virus and to subsequent changing consumer and business behaviour. According to mobile analytics firm App Annie the pandemic “has changed consumer behaviour on mobile forever” with its latest statistics highlighting that Covid-19 has driven consumer spending on apps to $50 billion in the first half of 2020, up 10 per cent from the second half of 2019. Other research from McKinsey shows that digital interaction with B2B customers is now twice as important as traditional channels—that’s a jump of over 30 percent since before the COVID-19 crisis hit.

We are seeing businesses creating apps to streamline internal processes, to automate different functions and to improve how they trade and interact with their customers. Many businesses are embracing low code app development tools to drive the transition.

Why develop an app?

Apps allow businesses to deliver all or part of their services to customers on mobile devices and laptops, as well as traditional desktops. Today, apps are being used for everything from ordering grocery shopping to fitness tracking, from day-to-day banking to ordering a beer in a pub, and from coronavirus track and trace solutions to monitoring mental health. Businesses cannot afford to get left behind in this increasingly savvy technological world.

The security and flexibility of an app, in a world where people are working from home, social distancing and changing their routine on a continual basis, can help companies adapt and aid their business recovery. What is more, if a company’s main competitors now have a fully functioning app, then they will also need to develop one or risk losing customers.

One of the best ways that companies can develop apps, without the expense of employing a team of developers, is by using a low-code app development platform. It will allow sophisticated business apps to be created and deployed without the need for external software developers or product training.

Benefits of using low-code platforms

Low-code platforms empower businesses to create apps in a fraction of the time and cost of more traditional methods. They enable companies to design, develop and deploy adaptive business apps across multiple mobile and desktop devices using their existing staff.

These platforms do not require people to have any coding skills as they make extensive use of ‘drag and drop’ and ‘point and click’ development techniques. The platforms should also allow companies to develop an app once and deploy it across multiple mobile and desktop devices, and multiple operating systems. They must also be able to integrate seamlessly with any database. 

The selection of the right development platform should also provide the flexibility to customise the apps to the client’s exact requirements either directly through the platform or by the addition of custom code. The right platform will also enable businesses to choose to generate their apps as web, hybrid or native apps from the same design base. It should also provide the client with no limitations for future customisation and development possibilities.

One company that has used low code app development in lockdown is Classic Groundcovers, a wholesale nursery based in Georgia, USA that sells plants to nurseries, re-wholesalers and landscape contractors. It used low-code app development system, Evoke, to create an app to digitise its manual ordering system and to enable the company to handle a record volume of sales.

Spring is always Classic Groundcovers’ busiest time. This year orders were exceptional as the pandemic forced people to stay at home and many turned to gardening, which in turn led to an increase in the demand for plants.

The company had previously operated a manual order system. When order volumes were high, the associated administration could take up to 12 hours a day. Clearly, the situation was unsustainable. Classic Groundcovers decided to create an app to automate its order processing, reduce administration, and ensure it could manage high volumes of orders.

After careful analysis, the company chose the Evoke low-code development platform because of its speed and ease-of-use, and to avoid having to recruit a team of outside developers. The result was that existing employees were able to design, create and fully deploy the app in under 30 days.

The company said that having the app has had a ‘ground-breaking’ effect in terms of both automating order processing and the business in general. It enables Groundcovers to manage surges in order volumes and reduce administration time and costs. Consequently, the team has more time and energy to focus on growing the business. That’s a win-win situation, and that’s the power that low-code business apps can unlock for companies across all sectors. 

To conclude

As companies start to recover from this pandemic, they will be looking for new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Many will turn to low-code app development tools to create apps easily and cost-effectively.

Companies should not delay decisions to go digital until ‘things get back to normal’ as they could miss a significant opportunity to get their business ready for the post Covid-19 world. The market has experienced unprecedented disruption, and fast-paced change is here to stay.

Now is the time to not only be responding to those changes but also to be preparing and planning for the future. In the world of business and e-commerce, the introduction of the right apps can provide the point of difference that is so often needed to stay ahead of the competition, and to remain agile in the context of continuous market flux and change. 

Malcolm Carroll is director at BlueFinity International

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May 7, 2021

Improving Skill Initiatives in Technology Businesses in 2021

skills
Technology
Business
upskilling
Becs Roycroft, Senior Director...
4 min
Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent & Reskill Operations at mthree talks us through the skills needed in today's job market.
Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent & Reskill Operations at mthree talks us through the skills needed in today's job market...

According to Tech Nation’s most recent report, UK technology companies now employ more than 2.93 million people, with the sector seeing a 40% growth in the last two years. The new world of work and the uptick in digitalisation caused by the pandemic with the mass uptake of digital services and online communications has meant that the technology sector has seen a huge demand for specific skills across the job market.

Whilst many businesses have done well to adapt to the digital transformation witnessed over the last few years, this rapid advancement of technology has also resulted in widespread difficulties recruiting experienced tech employees. McKinsey reported that over 87% of organisations have reported huge digital skills gaps, which suggest that whilst most tech businesses are aware of and actively trying to tackle these issues, many are struggling to do so effectively.

To remain competitive and overcome this shortage of skilled workers, technology businesses must look at how they can upskill current employees, move employees to new areas of the business, and ensure their technology talent is as up to date as possible. 

So how can tech businesses stay ahead of the skills curve this year? 

Make an inventory of desired skills – and offer training for them

To introduce effective skilling programmes within technology businesses, management teams should identify and agree on skills that the business is in greatest need of – both in the immediate and longer terms. 

Over the past three years, demand for tech skills such as AI, cyber and cloud automation has accelerated, with AI and cyber in particular growing by 44% and 22% year on year, respectively, from 2019. For many tech businesses, these skills will continue to be desirable for the business to progress, and senior leadership teams must agree on what skills the business wants to prioritise in its workforce.

Next, management teams should then look to create an inventory of these desired skills and also identify what job roles need to be introduced to further this expertise within the business. This can be done through hiring external candidates or even introducing a programme that current employees can take to develop these particular skills.

This technique requires technology businesses to be malleable in their approach, and they can therefore look to introduce training that builds on these skills gaps or even move employees around the business to utilise their existing skills in areas that are most needed.

Incentivise the workforce

Finally, a good way to develop the skills available amongst the workforce in a technology business is to ensure employees are excited about the prospect. If new candidates and existing members of the team feel included in the approach, can see a benefit in taking additional training and feel motivated to further their own career progression, this could be the tech companies’ strongest asset.

For example, companies such as Amazon have set the bar for investing in reskilling and upskilling to keep their entire workforce motivated and, most importantly, up-to-speed. As many people join Amazon, some without any previous educational qualifications to some possessing PHDs, the business’s skilling programme is provided to give all employees the skills they need to either move up at Amazon or move on to a qualified position outside of the company. By offering this training, employees are motivated to think of their own career and future, and Amazon has the benefit of seeing the operational and financial benefits of a skilled, engaged workforce.

According to recent research completed by Robert Half, software development, cloud migration and project management experience are top of the list for hiring managers in 2021, with tech-specific skills being some of the most in-demand across all sectors. The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this increased demand for technology skills and talent, and industry leaders are at a pivotal stage to ensure their workers’ skills sets are up-to-date and being utilised effectively within the business.

For tech businesses that wish to attract this new talent as well as keeping current employees engaged and competitive within the industry, bosses must not only incentivise their workers with skilling programmes, but they must work to identify what skills they are in most need of and then put the necessary training programmes in place.

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