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How the development of apps can support companies during Coronavirus

Malcolm Carroll, Director at Bluefinity International, discusses the role business app development can play in supporting businesses and individuals, and how app development is supporting the fight against Covid-19

Covid-19 is having a devastating effect on the lives of many people and continued social distancing measures are of upmost importance. At the same time, huge energy, commitment and sacrifices are being made by companies to sustain operating and staffing levels, in order to deal with today’s immediate challenges.

Companies are also considering the future – both to ensure as seamless a return to normal after lockdown measures are relaxed, and to move quickly and strongly to rebuild their business when the time is right.

Most companies have experienced significant change in operating conditions, often resulting in a reduction in revenue and activity, which is forcing them to reassess their current business models. Some sectors have benefited.

Food retailers, online shopping giants and, of course, toilet roll manufacturers have all seen a surge in business. However, anecdotal evidence is also emerging of other businesses continuing to trade strongly during the outbreak, which is very encouraging.

With many businesses trying to retain staff by having them work from home, now is the time for them to look to the future and use staff working at home to complete projects that will help companies emerge stronger.

Impact of COVID-19 on the mobile economy

For a number of years, many global companies have been trying to add apps to their application software products and systems; a new user interface with the ability to operate on mobile devices, as well as desktop computers or simply upgrade existing systems.

They can help companies in many ways, including enabling them to compete and increase sales, build customer loyalty and brand recognition, as well as act as a marketing channel. Increasingly, customers expect a company to offer their services via an app.

Having a business app ready can help companies stay ahead of the curve and support the business once this crisis is over. Increased internet use during this period of lockdown could be an additional incentive as businesses with apps are able to adapt to the new working environment more quickly.

New data from app analytics firm, App Annie[i] shows that daily mobile use in China, where the lockdown began in January 2020, jumped to five hours per day on average, an increase of 30% compared to the average for 2019. Italy, which had the second highest concentration of confirmed cases as of 15th March, saw the second highest jump at 11%.

The benefits of having a business app are heightened during this crisis, as they are a vital way for businesses to interact with customers and to continue trading.

Low code tools easily used by staff working at home

BlueFinity International has seen significant growth in the use of its low-code development platform, Evoke, in recent weeks. Evoke allows the company’s existing staff to build business apps using low-code, drop and drag, point and click and option select methods.

The new working conditions are seeing many people working from home now and as a consequence many have found a significant amount of their time freed up to start on new projects. These are very often projects that have previously been considered or planned, but have in the past suffered delays due to conflicting priorities.

Evoke has proved to be almost ideally suited to this new way of working as most of the company’s interaction with clients is performed through extensive GoToMeeting/Zoom video conferencing sessions or by phone and Skype anyway, so there is no disruption or change to the service that is always offered.  Its environment reviews, user training, app reviews and extensive customer support etc. are all managed as they always are, on-line and safely.

In addition the Evoke pricing model means there is no large upfront capital outlay and for very little initial cost companies can embark on app development without having to endure lengthy authorisation and sign off procedures.

Also 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 can work together online to participate in all stages of the required development and review work.

Beyond the Covid-19 crisis

While much of the media attention has been placed on the negative impact of this dreadful disease, encouragingly more businesses are now switching to the post Covid-19 world and using any available time in an effective and constructive way to provide 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 as part of this process.