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Human-centric automation with AppSheet

    A few months after AppSheet was acquired by Google Cloud we announced that we were extending our no-code capabilities to include a new way to empower citizen developers- AppSheet Automation.  While the team is hard at work iterating on this offering, I was recently able to have a conversation with one of the Product Managers leading this effort - Prithpal Bhogill. In the conversation below we discuss what AppSheet Automation is, how it’s used, and when you can start using it.    JC: Let’s get started with the big question - what is AppSheet's automation?  PB: Simply put, automation is the use of technology to eliminate manual steps in typical business processes (eg: Employee Onboarding, Expense Approvals etc) and make your business run more efficiently. Automation is the key enabler of digital transformation.  With AppSheet, automation is an extension of the no-code capabilities that so many organizations have begun to implement as part of their digital transformation. It’s intent-aware, modular and allows creators the ability to activate powerful automations - in addition to their no-code applications - all on the same unified platform. This part of the no-code evolution enables you to automate common business processes and document based workflows that are often time consuming by quickly configuring bots that listen to events and execute processes.    JC: You used the terms “intent aware”, “unified” and “modular”, can you explain what that means for our citizen developers who aren’t as familiar with this space? PB: Let’s break it down into the three parts starting with Intent-aware. AppSheet as a platform uses the power of Google AI and Natural Language Processing to understand your data model (eg: employee), what you are trying to automate (eg: employee onboarding) and will surface relevant suggestions for bots, events and processes - minimizing the clicks and configuration required to create your automation.   For eg: When you type in “Employee Onboarding” during the automation bot creation, the platform detects that the employee data model has a column “Email” and offers up suggestions  (completely configured bots) that are relevant. It can automatically populate complex expressions thereby reducing the amount of time the application creator has to spend setting up the automation.     Next up is “unified” The no-code nature of the platform allows anyone to create both applications and automations within the same product rather than from separate products as is the case with some other solutions in this space. The application creator can use the same application editor that they use to design application experiences, to configure bots, events and processes. This allows them to create powerful automations that include rich approvals and intelligent document processing (more on that later).    Finally, “modular” Modularity is a key design principle of AppSheet, and this is not to be confused with the drag and drop elements that you see in low-code platforms. Events, Processes, and Tasks (steps inside of processes) are all reusable components - saving valuable development time. That means  you can reuse events and processes in various bots and tasks in various processes.   JC: We're in the early stages of this release, any particular business need that you’ve seen really benefit from this thus for?  PB: Anything related to approvals has been quite popular, especially because of what we call document AI, or document processing. Think order approvals, invoice requests, employee management, etc.   JC: Ok, I know we have some really incredible work happening behind the scenes. Is there anything you’re particularly proud of that you want to highlight for our audience?  PB: Document AI, or intelligent document processing, is a really powerful part of the intelligence behind automation. The best way to think of it is the extraction of content from an unstructured document. To take it a step further, the intelligence capabilities of AppSheet will automatically extract useful content from document files that are stored as a PDF, GIF or TIFF files. Pdfs of invoices or receipts that need approvals are one of the best ways to see how automation leverages document AI.    JC: One final question for you - where can those that are interested go to get started? There are two places, both serving separate needs. The first is our Creator Community. We’ve created a special channel where those that are interested can engage with others leveraging this capability. This channel is also a great place to provide feedback and let us know what’s working and what you’d like to see. The second is your AppSheet account. We’ll be rolling this out over time so not everyone will be able to access it right away, but once you see the Automation tab appear in your navigation bar, you can dig in.  A big thank you to Prithpal for sharing his expertise and to the entire team for their work on this next AppSheet chapter.  Ready to get started? Begin your automation journey today. 

AppSheet 2020 Year in Review

What an unprecedented year, for both AppSheet and the word at large. Even as our team faced new challenges, we remained committed to uncovering new opportunities to serve our community. Our team began the year by joining Google Cloud after being acquired by Google. By combining our advances in no-code development with an organization with world-class infrastructure and resources, we were able to supercharge our efforts to bring the democratizing power of no-code app development to citizen developers  everywhere. Responding to the global pandemic The timing of our Google acquisition put us in a unique position to support those in need of unique solutions to serve their communities.  – just as the global implications of the pandemic began to become clear – In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, digitizing became critically important and no-code development was able to help individuals and organizations around the world respond to the urgent crisis. All across the globe, everyday citizens  with zero coding experience used AppSheet to build powerful applications to help combat COVID-19 and its effects on vulnerable communities. Here are just a few of the inspiring ways people around the world used AppSheet to respond to the crisis: USMEDIC – a provider of comprehensive equipment maintenance solutions to healthcare and medical research communities – used AppSheet to build a medical equipment tracking and management solution to support various healthcare organizations, including busy hospitals struggling to locate vital equipment. The Mthunzi Network – a not-for-profit organization that distributes aid to vulnerable populations – built an easy-to-use app to automate the distribution and redemption of digital food vouchers. You can read more about how Google Cloud’s AppSheet and our global community of no-code app creators have answered the call to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic here. Reimagining work Needless to say, the phrase “business as usual” took on a whole new meaning in 2020. And at AppSheet, our mission has always been to change the way organizations and businesses do what they do best with our intelligent, no-code app development platform. Unlike low-code platforms, which still require experienced development teams to design and build applications, AppSheet’s no-code platform empowers anyone to design and build custom apps that help digitize and simplify business processes and workflows. As one retail app creator in our community put it best: “The future is no-code app development. Creating an app from a simple spreadsheet opens up endless possibilities in making business processes seamless.” You can read more about the difference between low-code and no-code development here. Our team’s been amazed by the creative and inventive ways in which app creators have used AppSheet this year. A small Utah-based construction company created an app to simplify inspections and help mobile workers do their jobs faster. An engineer in Mumbai used AppSheet to build an app that brings solar water pumps to remote farms in India. And a telecom company in the Philippines hosted an AppSheet-based hackathon where the winning team built an app that detects and reports illegal signal boosting. Preparing for the future We also worked hard this year to integrate AppSheet with Google Workspace and add powerful automation and security tools to enable no-code and citizen development everywhere. For example: The Google Sheets integration now allows Google Workspace users to build AppSheet-powered apps directly from a Sheet. We also developed app templates that incorporate Google Workspace functionality into AppSheet-powered apps – allowing customers to further streamline their tasks. Because of integrations like these, Google Workspace users now have a powerful app development platform built right into their favorite productivity suite. And with AppSheet Automation, we’re doubling down on the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to no-code development so any employee can easily automate existing processes and drive efficiencies within their enterprises -- with no coding experience necessary. AppSheet’s human-centered approach to no-code development also offer easy-to-understand suggestions and checks, which help speed up the time it takes to develop and deploy an application. AppSheet also features powerful security, compliance, and governance rules built right in, so citizen developers can easily create apps without worrying about putting their teams, their company data, and their organizations at risk. 2020 was a challenging year but our community of citizen developers inspired us each and every day. From brainstorming community driven solutions to participating in the next phase of our no-code journey, we are so grateful to have gone through this year together. Here’s to a new year and all that 2021 may bring!!

North Carolina teacher creates student carpool app with Google Cloud’s AppSheet

It’s been a school year like no other for teachers like Erin Wolfhope, Instructional Technology Specialist at Burke County Public Schools in Hickory, North Carolina. A former kindergarten teacher, Erin earned a master's degree in instructional media, and since 2005, she’s helped her fellow educators integrate technology into their district’s K–12 classrooms. “I help other teachers learn and grow with technology to use with their students,” says Erin, a Google Certified Educator. In early 2020, she transitioned from working in elementary schools to helping high school teachers master their school’s learning management system. “I moved to the high school a week before COVID took over the world,” Erin says. “I’m trying to help teachers work smarter, not harder. They've been forced to use technology for virtual teaching or hybrid learning. They are stressed and overworked. I thought, ‘How can I help them?’” Erin has helped teachers navigate the previously unchartered waters of teaching online via video conferencing. “A lot of them will say, ‘I don't do technology,’” Erin says. “But they literally are doing all the technology right now. I show them new things apps and other digital tools can do in little snippets, so as not to overwhelm them.” When North Carolina teachers and students returned to in-person learning in fall 2020, they entered a new world of COVID-19 safety precautions. This included trying to keep students from congregating in groups, including when waiting outside for their rides home from school—a topic Erin and her husband, Jeff, a middle-school teacher, knew all too well.  The challenge: Keeping students safe during school dismissal School districts all over the U.S. have faced unprecedented challenges creating a safe teaching and learning environment during the coronavirus pandemic. In the past, school dismissal has sometimes been a free for all, with excited kids racing through hallways to get outside and hang out together, as they wait for their rides home. This practice had to change in the age of COVID-19, to better regulate student dismissal and allow for physical distancing. Erin’s husband Jeff Wolfhope, a sixth-grade science teacher at Walter Johnson Middle School in Morganton, NC, vented to her that his school was having difficulty managing the student dismissal and car ride pickup process. “They were announcing student names over the intercom [to go outside to catch their rides home] for 35 minutes straight,” Erin recalls. “My husband said it was maddening. I said, ‘I have a way to fix that.’” Fortunately, Erin already had experience building a no-code classroom app using Google Cloud’s AppSheet. A few years earlier, Erin had looked for ways to engage students in learning about historical explorers. “I was looking in the Chrome Web Store for things to add onto Google Sheets, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Slides. When I saw AppSheet, I thought, ‘I've never heard of that.’ When it said you could build an app without code, I thought, ‘Well, I don't know how to code. That sounds good to me.’”   Using Jeff to test things out, Erin built a no-code app with AppSheet that allowed students to enter and cross-reference data about historical explorers in Google Sheets. “I wanted it to be mostly the kids inputting the data,” she recalls. “I just gave them some column headers and pointed them in the right direction. We used Google Search to find information about the explorers. Getting sixth graders to all collaborate on one sheet can be a little hairy. But they built this app. I threw in some maps. And I came to love Google Sheets and [AppSheet], and what [the students] could do with data.” Choosing AppSheet: Streamlining the after-school pickup process Erin set out to help schools in her district address the student dismissal and ride pickup issue. She created two tabs in AppSheet: “Students” and “Pick Up.” “I pulled the student rosters from our student information system and dumped them [into Google Sheets],” Erin explains. The lists of names synced with another app called Awesome Table that creates dynamic websites using data from Google Sheets. Here’s how Erin’s car rider app works: The app sorts student names by grade and displays them in an Awesome Table view projected in the classroom. “It’s really pretty basic,” Erin says. “Teachers and students see the names of students projected in their classrooms. Outside, in the car rider line, administrators have the app on their phones. When students see their name on the board, then they go outside. Then, when one of the administrators sees that kid get in their car, they tap their name on the picked-up side [of the app] and they come off of the Awesome Table view in the classroom.” The app supports an orderly dismissal of students, with real-time updates between students picked up and the list of students waiting projected onto Awesome Table in the classroom. AppSheet Customer Support guided Erin in finetuning the app’s functions. “Now, schools don't have a cog of kids out there on top of each other and they don't have to make those [student dismissal] announcements every day,” Erin says. I thought, ‘OK, this might be amazing.’”   The results: Getting students on their rides home safely Erin’s no-code car rider app made with Google Cloud’s AppSheet is now used by several elementary schools and one middle school in the county.  Because of her no-code app, the rider pickup process is easier for teachers, administrators, and students; and parents approve of the more orderly dismissal, too. “At my husband’s parent–teacher conferences, he bragged to his kids, ‘Hey, my wife made this app we're using,’” Erin recalls. “Then he said, ‘Erin, you got a shout out in my parent conference. [Parents] said since [schools] use the app, the car rider line is so much faster and efficient. They can get their kids and get out of here so much quicker.’  I thought, ‘Oh, there we go!’” Erin’s no-code app also saves schools money. This is so important, now more than ever, as resource-strapped school systems struggle to keep learning alive during the pandemic. “I know there are some [commercial] car rider [software packages] out there, but we have no money, we really have nothing,” Erin says. “So I'm super thankful that [AppSheet] is not something we have to shell out money for. I'm hopeful the principals will say, ‘Hey, this worked so well. What do you think about doing something else with this?’” Erin hopes to develop and expand use of her no-code car rider app to other schools in her district, including once the pandemic is over. She has other ideas for using AppSheet to create no-code apps for use in classrooms and school libraries, as well as to facilitate workflow and communications between teachers, school administrators, and parents. She says she likes AppSheet for its simplicity and ease of use for users at all levels, including the teachers and students she supports on a day-to-day basis. “There are lots of possibilities,” Erin says.  “I just need someone to say, ‘Hey Erin, I need this thing.’ And I will say, ‘OK, I can work on that.’ Point me in a direction to work on something and I'll see what we can do.” Do you have an idea for a no-code app that could help your school or organization work better? Google Cloud’s AppSheet is always free to try.

No-code automation for the energy sector

The energy industry powers the modern world — literally. And as the use of automation in business grows across the globe, energy leaders are poised to reap some of the biggest benefits. Experts estimate that while intelligent automation can deliver over $800 billion in cost savings and additional productivity to the energy sector, only 18 percent of organizations are using it at an enterprise scale. A lack of technically skilled talent tops the list of reasons why it’s so difficult for the sector to kickstart automation efforts. Fortunately, there is a better way to bring the power of automation to energy leaders everywhere. Google Cloud’s AppSheet combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all energy teams — even non-technical employees — the ability to quickly automate existing processes and workflows without writing a single line of code. AppSheet is designed to help energy leaders tap into automation opportunities (with zero coding knowledge) so they can drive further efficiencies across their entire enterprise — from materials transportation and equipment maintenance to outage prediction and disaster response. Over the next month, we’ll be spotlighting no-code automation use cases by industry — this week’s focus is on energy. Field work Whether it’s an oil field, offshore platform, refinery, solar array, or wind farm, field work in the energy industry is a serious and complex undertaking. From optimizing the construction and management of sites to the production and transportation of materials, energy field work requires high-level coordination to effectively manage all the parts, people, and equipment in play across these frequently remote locations. AppSheet already brings reliable capabilities for field work such as offline sync. Now, with no-code automation, you can increase efficiency in the field and reduce opportunities for human error by putting your data collection, project management, and long-distance employee communications on autopilot. Automate field survey workflows like information capture and approvals, and simplify project management using task assignments and status indicators that automatically notify key stakeholders so your field work gets done right, faster. AppSheet even provides a Field Survey sample app and a Project Management sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your field operations right now. Materials transportation and tracking Supply chains in the energy industry are extremely complex, with the transportation of many materials requiring unique safety, quality, and regulatory specifications. That’s why energy businesses need a way to manage and track every truck, pipeline, and worker involved in the process to ensure these critical materials get to where they need to go, on time. With no-code automation, you can simplify this massive process using powerful tools that increase the transparency and efficiency of your materials transportation. AppSheet’s no-code development platform enables any employee to build custom apps that feature GPS tracking and barcode or QR code scanning to improve the speed and accuracy of transportation operations — automatically classifying and reporting the data back to a centralized location where it can be accessed by every user who needs it. AppSheet even provides a Location Tracker sample app and Barcode Scanner sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your transportation operations right now. Equipment maintenance The energy industry relies on enormous ecosystems of equipment to power the world. These equipment assets are expensive and mission-critical, and represent enormous capital investments to acquire, operate, and maintain. With so many different types of equipment in use, making sure employees know the proper procedures to safely and accurately inspect and maintain them is crucial. With no-code automation, you can create seamless maintenance and inspection processes to keep your equipment up and running. Track and train your employees on the correct protective apparel, safety training, procedures, and inspection techniques across all your locations and automatically record and report this data for easy management. And with Internet of Things-enabled equipment, AppSheet can even tell you when certain equipment is due for maintenance or may need urgent repair. This helps eliminate maintenance blind spots and reduces the potential for human error so your workers can get the job done right and keep your equipment functioning properly across your entire enterprise. AppSheet even provides an Equipment Inspection sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your maintenance operations right now. Disaster response In the event of a disaster, energy companies play a pivotal role in restoring critical services to the hardest-hit areas. That’s why effectively managing the logistics of dispatching work crews and ensuring the safety of your responding employees is so important. Fortunately, no-code automation can help you accelerate your response time and guarantee your crew’s safety by quickly creating custom no-code apps. Assign and dispatch your drivers with Google Maps integrations that automatically calculate and share the fastest routes and share real-time location information back to headquarters. Quickly identify the need for emergency response materials like personal protective equipment (PPE) and check it against your available inventory and each crew’s individual supply. AppSheet lets you do it all so you can help disaster-hit areas get back to normal faster. AppSheet even provides a Driver Dispatch sample app and Emergency Management sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your disaster response operations right now. Incident reporting When you least expect it, a safety incident can turn a normal day on the job into an emergency situation — one that requires an immediate response from management. That’s why it’s so important for energy leaders to have a fast, reliable, automatic system in place for producing and submitting incident reports. With no-code automation, you can easily create dedicated reporting apps that put your incident reporting on autopilot. AppSheet’s no-code development platform makes it easy to include forms and fields for employees to share incident data, schedule interviews with involved parties, collect evidence like photos and documents, and quickly submit accurate reports and request signatures via SMS and email — no coding experience necessary. By establishing an automatic, formalized process for incident reporting, AppSheet can help your team work safer and faster. AppSheet even provides an Incident Reporting sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your field operations right now. * * * With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, energy leaders and employees everywhere can automate their most mission-critical business processes with zero coding skills and technical background. Getting started with AppSheet’s no-code development platform couldn’t be easier, so start your business’s digital transformation today!

Automation in the healthcare industry

Enterprise IT leaders across the globe are increasingly looking for new ways to optimize operational efficiency, increase employee productivity, and accelerate the speed of innovation to stay competitive and meet customer demands. To achieve these goals, leaders across industries are embracing automation as a way to reshape their digital strategies in the face of extraordinary risk and challenge.  Automation removes the barriers of legacy systems, manual processes, and a shortage in skilled technical staff so that organizations can accelerate their digital transformations – and healthcare leaders should take note. Because the healthcare industry has been traditionally slow to embrace digital, its CIOs and IT leaders are now facing unprecedented challenges: According to Gartner, 63% of healthcare providers have faced severe disruptions due to internal organizational changes, cost pressure, regulation and compliance requirements, funding issues, or shifting consumer demands. Savvy healthcare organizations are increasingly turning to solutions such as no-code automation to help address these disruptions and usher the healthcare industry into a new digital era. Google Cloud’s AppSheet’s no-code platform makes it easy for caregivers, receptionists, billing teams, and others working in healthcare to create easy-to-use applications and automations that streamline and speed up workflows – all without needing help from the IT department. Below are just a few ways that teams in healthcare are leveraging automation to drive efficiency today, while laying the groundwork for a healthier tomorrow: Appointment scheduling: Automating appointment scheduling not only reduces scheduling errors, but also increases staff efficiency, effectively fills provider schedules, reduces no-shows, and improves patient satisfaction. According to a recent Accenture Health analysis, nearly 40% of the top 100 U.S. health systems and 10% of remaining U.S. health systems offer patients the ability to digitally self-schedule appointments, and these numbers are predicted to sharply increase over the next few years. Claims processing: Healthcare providers are facing increased competition and customer demands, but often struggle to keep up due to a lack of operational efficiency. Automation software can help speed up the processing of insurance claims and billing, leading to improved customer satisfaction, as well as more efficient bookkeeping. Automated anomaly detection can also flag potential errors — a benefit impossible to achieve with paper-based systems. Post-visit information: Today, consumers expect seamless, personalized digital experiences, whether they’re checking out in a store or at the doctor’s office. Just as a retail store might send consumers a digital receipt after a purchase, healthcare providers are now using automation to automatically send exiting patients push notifications with after-visit summaries, information about prescribed medications, and billing updates.  Treatment analysis: With automation software, healthcare providers can track an individual’s health and treatment history. Over time, this data can inform improved treatment plans and methods of care. Additionally, the data can be anonymized to study health trends in populations to inform complex decisions around public health issues such as vaccination, the benefits of exercise, and the impact of nutrition and diet changes. Automating healthcare workflows: Stagnating legacy systems are notorious for creating bottlenecks that stifle IT’s ability to support new initiatives or drive innovative solutions. Yet many current healthcare workflows and tools – including patient intake forms, medical history lookup or reference, patient communications, surveys, and insurance verification – depend on legacy systems that require time-consuming repetitive and error-prone manual tasks. Digitally-mature healthcare organizations are automating these tasks to streamline processes, reduce error, and allow employees more time to focus on patient care and other high-value, strategic activities.  Staffing: Automation in healthcare staffing can be invaluable, as automation systems can leverage machine learning (ML) to project staffing needs based on a number of changing variables. With automation, providers can more accurately predict staffing needs in the event of a patient influx due to, for example, flu season. Appropriate staffing can not only reduce patient wait times, but can also save lives. COVID-19 screening: COVID-19 has created a new set of challenges, as providers must screen every patient based on symptoms, body temperature, and potential exposure. To alleviate strain, clinics are using chatbots and other communication apps that can screen patients and automatically connect them with a COVID test or physician’s appointment. This type of automation can be applied to other types of health screenings – for example, chatbots are being used effectively to screen for depression – as well as to scale and streamline patient flow. Ordering prescriptions: To provide immediate service to every patient — regardless of location — many providers are choosing to automate prescription renewal requests. This allows patients to easily request refills when they need, without having to call into an office, an approach that  saves time for providers and patients alike. Automating workflows not only accelerates healthcare’s digital transformation and increases patient satisfaction, it also reduces manual processes and drives operational efficiency. To help organizations achieve their digital transformation goals, Google Cloud’s AppSheet combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the benefits of no-code development to enable all employees to quickly automate existing processes without having to write code. This means that all employees, regardless of technical skill, can automate work in order to keep patients — and the industry — in good health. Ready to start your own no-code automation project? AppSheet is always free to start:

How no-code automation will propel the manufacturing industry

Perhaps no industry is more poised to experience the benefits of automation than manufacturing. From increased productivity to improved employee safety, experts estimate the financial impact of automation opportunities in manufacturing at nearly $2.7 trillion. By democratizing who can automate processes and removing the barriers to automation development, manufacturers can bring even their most complex operations into the 21st century. Google Cloud’s AppSheet combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all manufacturing teams — even non-technical employees — the ability to quickly automate existing processes and workflows without writing a single line of code. The AppSheet platform is designed to help manufacturers tap into automation opportunities (with zero coding knowledge) so they can drive further efficiencies across their entire enterprise — from facilities management and inventory control to incident reporting and employee timekeeping. This month, we’re spotlighting no-code automation use cases by industry and this week’s focus is on manufacturing. Incident reporting When you least expect it, a safety incident can turn a normal manufacturing day into an emergency situation — one that requires an immediate response from management. That’s why it’s so important for manufacturing leaders to have a fast, reliable, automatic system in place for producing and submitting incident reports. With no-code automation, you can easily create dedicated reporting apps that put your incident reporting on autopilot. AppSheet’s no-code development platform makes it simple to include forms and fields for employees to share incident data, schedule interviews with involved parties, collect evidence like photos and documents, and quickly submit accurate reports and request signatures via SMS and email. By establishing an automatic, formalized process for incident reporting, AppSheet can help your team work safer and faster. Managing enterprise assets Manufacturers frequently have thousands of assets located across multiple locations, including human resources, machines, vehicles, network components, servers, and more. Maintaining visibility over all of these assets is crucial — and where the power of no-code automation shines. You can boost the ongoing stability and profitability of your company by automating your manufacturing operations. Using a no-code platform like AppSheet, any member of your team can easily build custom apps to track HR processes, manufacturing workflows, data management, inventory, and more, and merge them into a centralized reporting app to give you a true 360-degree view of your assets. That means you can track your assets from anywhere in the cloud and eliminate errors, giving you real confidence that you can act on today, tomorrow, and into the future. Inventory control Maintaining the proper balance between parts, equipment, and raw materials needed to meet demand for your final products is at the heart of inventory control. Doing it effectively lowers carrying costs and results in less waste and fewer delays. Digital transformation is already helping manufacturers improve the visibility, accuracy, and speed at which they control their inventory. And no-code development platforms like AppSheet give any member of your team the tools they need to automate these key processes to make them even more efficient, error-free, and fully optimized. In fact, AppSheet offers a number of free sample apps that you can easily copy and customize to get started. Explore them below, and say hello to the digital future of manufacturing: Manufacturing Inventory sample app Barcode Scan and Search sample app Deliveries For manufacturers, the job doesn’t end when your product leaves the factory or warehouse. It needs to arrive to your customers quickly and safely. With so many moving parts (literally), deliveries are another area where no-code automation can help manufacturers unlock valuable optimizations. AppSheet enables anyone to create apps that automatically notify and update customers when their order is out for delivery — sending push notifications to both you and them as an order makes its way to its destination. And with Google Maps integration, you can make sure your drivers always have the most optimized and up-to-date routes based on current traffic conditions, putting your dispatching and delivery routing on autopilot. Now, you can stay in total control of your products from the moment they’re made to the moment they’re delivered. Check out AppSheet’s delivery management sample app to try our no-code development today: Package Delivery Management sample app Workforce management Your employees are the most valuable part of your manufacturing operations. But collecting, managing, and processing their timecards and wages can be complicated and prone to errors. Reduce the strain on your HR teams and get your employees paid on time everytime with no-code automation. Forget manual time cards; now anyone on your team can quickly build apps that make it easy for employees to track their hours and log time in and time out, automatically calculating total wages and delivering all necessary information to HR so accounting is a breeze. AppSheet even provides a Timesheet sample app that you can copy, customize, and start using in your manufacturing operations right now, for free. * * * With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, manufacturing leaders and employees everywhere can automate their most mission-critical business processes with zero coding skills and technical background. Getting started with AppSheet’s no-code development platform couldn’t be easier, so start your business’s digital transformation today!

Accelerating the Retail Experience with No-Code Automation

Time is of the essence in retail, where customer demands rapidly change, competition is fierce, and disruption is constant — making automation a necessity for any retail business to survive and thrive. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail has had to re-invent the shopping experience in stores, implement curb-side pick-up, and pivot to online sales models. Based on changing government guidelines, retail outlets have had to change processes and employee protocol. According to McKinsey & Company, automatable activities account for nearly 40 percent of retailers’ time, and experts estimate that automation will add approximately $24.6 billion in value to the retail industry by 2025. While the challenges of digital transformation and applying automation technologies to business processes can seem daunting and out of reach for businesses without an army of engineers, that’s not the case with Google Cloud’s AppSheet. AppSheet combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all retail teams (even non-technical employees) the ability to quickly automate existing processes without having to write a single line of code. The AppSheet platform is designed to help retailers tap into automation opportunities so they can drive further efficiencies across their entire enterprise — from customer experience and employee retention to inventory management and timely marketing promotion. Over the next month, we’ll be spotlighting no-code automation use cases by industry — starting with this week’s focus on retail. Customer Retention In a hyper-competitive industry like retail, it’s not enough to make a sale. You need to win a customer’s business repeatedly. With no-code automation, you can put the optimization of your customer retention efforts on autopilot. Establish automated workflows to send customers loyalty points or discount codes after they make a purchase, share special holiday and birthday offers based on customer data, distribute feedback surveys after a store visit to show you value their business, and more. No-code automation makes it possible for any retail business to provide their customers a personalized, high-touch experience that wins their loyalty and drives greater customer lifetime value. Warehouse Management “Do you have any more in the back?” is a question familiar to most retailers — and one that can take an enormous amount of time to answer. With a custom inventory app powered by no-code automation, you can give your agents on the floor the ability to quickly check inventory right from a mobile device without having to venture into the warehouse. And if an item isn’t in stock, they can use the app to quickly check the inventory of nearby stores and locations to refer customers to another branch to make their purchase. That means fewer lost sales, less time spent searching for inventory, and greater clarity for your business — all of which leads to a more positive customer experience. Workforce Training and Compliance The retail industry is always changing, which means keeping employees up-to-date on company policies, technologies, and protocols can be a full-time job. AppSheet can boost your efficiency and help guarantee organization-wide compliance by automatically triggering lessons and training based on workflows and parameters. Whether it’s a regular quarterly update or a net-new course brought on by a recent merger, market shift, or new legislation, you can automate your workforce training so no employee gets left behind. And by smoothly integrating all that employee data and content, an automated process can also help your HR team quickly identify employees well-suited for promotion and career advancement to keep your most valuable team members right where they belong — helping your company succeed. Merchandise Planning Experts estimate that retailers spend up to 20 percent of their time on merchandise planning. Despite this, inventory forecasting, sales and promotions, and pricing can be fraught with unknowns and risks. But with no-code automation, retail teams (including non-technical workers) can use powerful predictive modeling and analytics to study past, present, and future trends in order to make better-informed decisions about their merchandise and surface insights and opportunities they may have otherwise missed. With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, retailers can take the guesswork out of merchandise planning — giving business leaders the ability to minimize exposure to risks while making sure products and promotions always hit the mark. Inventory Management Like merchandise planning, proper inventory management is key to making sure you always have enough of what customers want on-hand, without the excess supply. A custom app powered by AppSheet can provide a 360-degree view of your retail inventory. You can use the app to understand which items need replenishing, which to stop ordering, and which to markdown in order to move. AppSheet gives you AI-powered predictive technology so you can build in functionality to prepare for unexpected spikes and drops in demand based on past and future trends — all with zero coding skills. Accounting Don’t tell your sales team, but accounting is the lifeblood of every successful business. By automating financial workflows such as accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and expenses and procurement, you can dramatically cut down on waste while speeding up your ability to get what you need from partners and suppliers. In fact, Google Cloud’s AppSheet offers an Expensing and Procurement Sample App that you can easily copy, customize, and use at your workplace — right now, for free! * * * With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, retail leaders and employees everywhere can automate their most mission-critical business processes with zero coding skills and technical background. Getting started with AppSheet’s no-code development platform couldn’t be easier, so start your business’s digital transformation today!

6 Automation Apps You Can Build Today

Your time is valuable. That’s why Google Cloud’s AppSheet is combining the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all employees (including non-technical people) the ability to quickly automate existing processes without coding. We call it AppSheet Automation, and it lets you remove the barriers of legacy systems, manual processes, and resource constraints so your organization can accelerate its digital transformation. With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, data security is easily governable and enforceable, which means IT can ensure proper oversight and data protection while still encouraging “citizen development” among line-of-business workers. Here are six automation sample apps you can easily copy, customize, and use at your workplace, for free. So go ahead — take a look under the hood, experiment and play, and start envisioning what you can do with the power of AppSheet Automation! Procurement and Expensing Automation App Expensing and procurement are the bread and butter of any business. But manually generating and processing stacks of purchase orders takes time and effort, and mistakes can lead to missed payments, insufficient inventory, and a lack of budgeting clarity. That’s why our Procurement and Expensing Automation Sample App manages the whole expense and procurement process for you. It lets you easily create purchase orders and expense reports, and automatically triggers your tailored approvals workflow, so the right people can provide the appropriate approvals in a quick and timely manner. Start exploring the Procurement and Expensing Automation Sample App: Anomaly Detection App Data anomalies are important inflection points for businesses. They happen when a data point deviates from that dataset’s normal behavior, and they can indicate many things — including red flags. Perhaps a critical event like a technical glitch or a failure has occurred, or consumer behavior has suddenly changed, creating a time-sensitive business shift or opportunity. With our Anomaly Detection Sample App, your team can automatically receive notifications when anomalous data is detected — giving you the power to quickly act and respond. The app uses three different methods to detect and report anomalies: Static Bounds. Users can manually set acceptable limits for user data, automatically marking anything beyond these bounds as anomalous. Dynamic Bounds. If a data entry achieves standard deviation from the norm, the app automatically triggers a custom workflow you can establish. This method adjusts over time as data changes, allowing the threshold for standard deviation to drift as your data does. Machine Learning. Designed to be predictive, this method uses machine learning to analyze historical data and flag anomalies, setting future boundaries based on its learnings. Start exploring the Anomaly Detection Sample App: Sequential Tasks App Many business processes must occur in a specific order, one after the other. For example, when an anomaly is detected, it must first be investigated by a data analyst. If the anomaly was caused by a failure, IT must begin the process of fixing the problem or repairing the hardware; if the anomaly was caused by a shift in consumer behavior, line-of-business leads must determine and make the proper operations, marketing, and sales adjustments. Our Sequential Tasks Sample App provides sequencing capabilities, letting you design custom automated logic that expedites your workflows and helps eliminate time wasted waiting for tasks to be advanced along your organization. Start exploring the Sequential Tasks Sample App: Hierarchical Approvals App Much like Sequential Tasks, many business processes must receive approval from multiple stakeholders as they move up the chain of command. A decision a marketing manager makes, for example, must then be approved by their director, then a VP, and then perhaps the CMO. Fortunately, our Hierarchical Approvals Sample App lets you quickly and easily define a series of required approvals for specific tasks. It then automatically executes them, notifying the appropriate users when their approval is needed. Start exploring the Hierarchical Approvals Sample App: Event Management App For field personnel, easy event management can make all the difference between a huge success and a huge headache. From scheduling to registration to building contact directories and more, event management is a complex task. But not with our Event Management Sample App! Quickly schedule events, create custom maps and directions, and even build in reporting workflows so the chain of command at your home office always stays in the loop and can act on opportunities and respond to challenges right away. This is easily customizable copy-and-paste event management made a reality! Start exploring the Event Management Sample App: Automated Messaging App Make it easy for users to register in-app to receive automated updates and notifications from your organization. Let them opt in to receive product news, promotional offers, policy changes, and more — unlocking powerful self-service experiences automated by the app. Now your one-to-many communications are fast, simple, and fully customizable! Start exploring the Automated Messaging Sample App: With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, anyone can build custom applications and automated processes for the business with zero coding skills. And with the customizable sample apps above, there’s no reason to delay your digital transformation. Start creating your business’s next automation application today by copying and customizing the sample apps in this post. Or start AppSheet for free by connection your own data:  

Med Student Uses Google Cloud’s AppSheet to Create Singular Flashcard Study App

Sean Lim’s AppSheet-powered app organizes related medical conditions and concepts on flashcards, putting the right information at students’ fingertips Sean Lim is a third-year medical student at Touro University California, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California. Like so many of his peers, Sean had trouble processing the vast amounts of information piled on him in lectures and by the intensive medical school curriculum. “Medicine is classically taught via lectures and PowerPoint presentations,” Sean explains. “But that's simply too much information for the human brain to process. Our brains are not built to soak in four hours of all this stuff that's being thrown at us. And the information that will be taught to med students will continue to increase, and there's no control to [that] information.”   Ask anyone who’s attended med school, and they’ll likely tell you: It is a grind — both in classrooms and clinical studies. Sean believes students can empower themselves to more  actively shape how they learn the volumes of information required to graduate medical school. He’s also an advocate for achieving a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. Sean wondered: Could technology provide a solution to make medical school studies more manageable? The challenge: Too much information, not enough study time  Sean had been using digital flashcards as a study tool — the electronic version of an old-school method to help students memorize bite-sized pieces of information and quiz themselves, via two-sided cards. But off-the-shelf apps didn’t give Sean the control he wanted to organize related pieces of information among flashcards. And sharing flashcards with his fellow med students didn’t get Sean any closer to a solution. “Unfortunately, a lot of the flashcards that exist out there are kind of random,” Sean asserts. “Sometimes one person has a deck for a certain class, and then another person has another deck for the same class. But the two decks aren't really similar, and you don’t really know if another student’s deck has the information you need until you go through the whole deck.” Sean was up for the challenge of diagnosing and treating the problem himself. He was exposed to computer science and datasets as an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, where he majored in biophysics and minored in cinematic arts. “I was bouncing between both arts and sciences,” Sean recalls. “I actually took classes in video game design.” He worked with microbial bioinformatics as part of his post-college research work — which combines biology and computer science for the acquisition, storage, analysis, and dissemination of biological data. So he was comfortable working with databases and large datasets. He also developed coding skills through MathWorks’ MATLAB platform.  Sean began searching for a way to develop an app himself that would organize interrelational information into flashcards — giving students faster access to exactly what they need to learn for their courses and maximize precious study time. Choosing Appsheet: Connecting related medical conditions and concepts Sean had tried other flashcard storage and organization apps on the market. But they didn’t offer the relational tables featured in Google Cloud’s AppSheet — essential for Sean to build the med school flashcard study app he envisioned. “Only through AppSheet can you really connect flashcards that are similar,” he says. Sean liked that no-code development with AppSheet felt like a familiar environment. “You can just use its existing framework to create and customize your interface without having to put in a line of code,” he offers. Sean built his flashcards with key information from lectures and medical textbooks. He used Google Apps Script to batch the flashcards and automatically enter their information into AppSheet’s tables. He then used AppSheet to create parent and child tables in order to organize relational databases of flashcard information. “So if you're learning about diabetes, you want to learn all about diabetes before you move on to heart conditions,” he says. “AppSheet let me organize my flashcards and string them together in a way that told a story. It wasn't just isolated flashcards that were just all over the place. One flashcard could be related to another cluster of flashcards. None of the other apps can do that.”  Sean set up relational databases across several categories in his AppSheet-powered app. “Many diseases have the same symptoms,” he offers, as an example. “So I can look at all the diseases that have this symptom all at once, and then develop those kinds of mental frameworks. My app has around thirty of those kinds of relationships. And because of that, I'm able to parse my data very quickly, instead of looking it up without knowing where I'm going.” The results: Balancing med school studies with leisure time Sean is a true citizen developer. His goal? “Empower students to reach medical knowledge goals with data and technology.” By developing his AppSheet-powered app, his medical flashcards can now be used over and over again, rather than being “siloed for a single exam.”  Sean envisions integrating the med school’s entire curriculum into his relational flashcard app — helping his fellow med students maximize their study time and achieve more balance between work and life.   “[An app] like this would be a great gift,” to other students, Sean said in a Touro Triumphs article. Sean presented his learning app to Touro University California faculty and then rolled it out at the Innovations in Medical Education Conference at the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles in February 2020. On his website website, Sean writes: “My app employs learning theory such as spaced repetition and schematic thinking where every flashcard is placed in a knowledge network, allowing students to see how medical facts are interrelated and keep track of their day-to-day progress on the competencies they need to be successful in the clinic.”  It all fits with Sean’s goal to make med school studies more manageable and to help future doctors take a more holistic approach to school, medicine, and a balanced lifestyle. An advocate for “democratizing urban farming,”  Sean has also developed a nonprofit management app for a community garden outreach team. “My goal as a student is to have a nice kind of lifestyle, not just studying all the time,” Sean muses. He likes that his AppSheet-powered app can run offline, so he can study wherever he wants. “That has allowed me to exercise every day,” he says. “Because the app can run offline, I can go outside of the grid and then still use the app to review stuff. So I don't have to be sitting in front of the computer to study. I could just be walking outside having a good time.” Do you have an awesome idea to help you study, work, or relax better? AppSheet is always free to start: