MultiValue Covid-19 Catchup – BlueFinity

Elkie Holland catches up with Malcolm Carroll, Director, BlueFinity

ELKIE:   How has Covid-19 affected your daily internal way of working within BlueFinity?

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, BlueFinity acted swiftly to ensure our teams in the UK and USA could work effectively from home, that they were safe, and had the technology and tools to collaborate effectively and provide a high quality, responsive and uninterrupted service for our clients online.

We were fortunate in that our business model is primarily digital already. Virtually all of our daily interaction with our clients is performed through extensive GoToMeeting/Zoom video conferencing sessions or by phone and Skype.

Our digital services to support the Evoke low-code app development platform extend from our Environment Reviews (making sure an app can access the chosen database(s) and works properly on the chosen computer/environment), our live-person user training, which guides our clients through the creation of the screens and functions of the app, and extensive on-call support, including joint reviews of the app and ongoing assistance with the creation of the app.

Also, the availability of our online user-friendly guides, our acclaimed and constantly updated context-sensitive help, and our tips and information videos (all provided as part of Evoke) have even allowed some users to build fully working business apps with minimal interaction with the BlueFinity training team.

This digital approach has not only allowed us to successfully respond to the requirements of a diverse international client base, but to provide a seamless, uninterrupted service to our clients since the start of this pandemic.

ELKIE: What were your main challenges working through the Covid time?

Whereas many companies have experienced challenging operating conditions, which has reduced revenue and forced a reassessment of their business models, BlueFinity’s business has held up well. The climate has affected some new business projects, with delays until ‘things get back to normal’, but we have also seen a positive influence on planned developments.

In several cases, Covid-19 has actually accelerated the pace of digitalisation in businesses and increased the demand for apps from companies that see the introduction of apps as a way to respond to the challenges of the virus. Apps allow businesses to deliver all or part of their software products and services to their customers on mobile devices (phone and tablets) and laptops, as well as the traditional desktop.  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, is allowing some companies to emerge stronger from the pandemic.  

Another key trend we have noticed since Covid-19 is that progressive companies are accelerating their creation of business apps, both to support a new way of working in the current climate and in planning their future growth and recovery in the post-Covid world.

We have also found that a number of clients have been using this quieter business period to engage existing staff, who are working from home without the daily distractions of the office, to focus a significant amount of time on app development. Equally, others who had planned the development of their apps before the crisis, but had postponed development because of other business priorities, are now using the change in working conditions to get started.

ELKIE:  What were the main challenges that seemed to face your User Base?

As with businesses in general it depends very much on their business sector. Whereas some have found their businesses suffering during the pandemic, many of our logistics and online retail customers, for example, have seen their businesses boom since Covid. But in turn, this has meant they have found that meeting the needs of a new way of working, or managing increased demand for sales, has proved challenging.

As an example, one of our customers, Classic Groundcovers, is a wholesale nursery based in Georgia, USA that sells plants to nurseries, re-wholesalers and landscape contractors across the USA, and they experienced a surge in sales in the spring of this year.

Spring is always their busiest time of year, and this year orders were exceptional, as the pandemic forced people to stay at home, and many had turned to gardening, increasing demand for plants.

The company sells over 100 varieties of quality ground-cover plants and perennials to customers and operates a fast and responsive service, with orders shipped either the same or the next day.

The company had operated a manual order system, and with increased sales, they knew that keeping up with orders was going to be very challenging.

When orders were received from the wholesalers by telephone or email, they had to be keyed into an online system manually, then verified with the wholesaler before a shipping date was assigned and an invoice raised.  When order volumes were high, these processes took up to 12 hours a day of administration, and the situation was unsustainable.

Classic Groundcover approached us just before spring and asked us to help them create an app to automate their order processing, reduce their administration, and ensure they could manage high volumes of orders.

Using Evoke and the support from the BlueFinity team, an app was created and deployed within 2 weeks. The company said that having the app has been ‘ground-breaking.’  It has automated their order processing, enabling the company to not only managed the surge in orders, but grow the business and halve the time spent on administration.

BlueFinity also helped one of Groundcover’s biggest wholesalers to get set up with the Evoke app as well and, as a result, Classic Groundcover processed a record number of 3000 orders from that wholesaler alone during this spring period.

ELKIE:  How do you feel you managed to help your User Base through this?

Through the provision of the advanced low-code platform, and as a consequence of both the basic design of Evoke and the business model adopted by BlueFinity, we have been fortunate in that we have been able to assist our customers in a number of ways during these difficult times.

  • As most of our interaction with clients is performed through extensive GoToMeeting and Zoom video conferencing sessions or by phone and Skype anyway, there is no disruption or change to the service always offered by BlueFinity.  Our environment reviews, user training, app reviews and support services are all managed as they always are –  on-line and safely.
  • The Evoke pricing model means there is no large upfront capital outlay (which might have proved to be extremely difficult at this time). So, for very little initial cost, companies can embark on their development without having to incur a large upfront commitment. It also means that they are able to avoid having to endure lengthy authorisation and sign-off procedures, which again are proving to be far more difficult just now.
  • The infrastructure of Evoke means that it can easily support a group of people working from different locations on a single (or multiple) Evoke app at the same time. Designers, developers, business users and management, no matter whether they are located in the office or at home, can work together on-line to participate in all stages of the required development and review work.
  • And as an increasingly popular way of getting started, particularly when members of the team are working from different locations, BlueFinity has introduced its Seed App service. As part of this service, which is provided at a low cost, BlueFinity creates the required core app, based on a specification provided by the customer. Once the app is delivered, customers can then either choose to progress with the fast deployment of the app for live use, or to use the delivered app design as the foundation for further customisation.

ELKIE:  Any suggestions or support for your users on how you can help moving forwards?

A great deal of media attention has been placed on the negative impact of this dreadful disease, 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.

The best suggestion or advice we can give: companies that are delaying decisions until ‘things get back to normal’ are really missing a significant opportunity. The business world has changed, and in many instances the changes will become a more permanent part of life.

Now is the time to not only be responding to the changes but also be planning for the future, and in the world of business and commerce, the introduction of the right apps can provide that considerable difference that is so often needed. Also, with the prospect of a prolonged period of ‘working from home’ once again becoming a reality, and with the high levels of support being offered from companies like BlueFinity to help companies through this situation, now really is the time to start on those development programmes.

Elkie Holland thanks Malcolm Carroll for taking time out to speak with her.

Posted by: Prospectus IT Recruitment