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5 Tactics to Inspire No-Code App Adoption

As an innovator, you’re a change agent who seeks ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. A single idea can transform a business by solving problems, saving time, improving performance, or boosting profits. And you probably already know the impact that an individual or small team can have on your business if you empower them with the right tools. That’s why a no-code app can be such a powerful resource, enabling non-technical team-members to manage business processes, track, plan, audit, take inventory, and do other essential activities. . By allowing anyone in an organization to develop apps, a no-code platform like AppSheet can provide the power to scale a solution from one person’s idea to a tool for your team or even an integrated suite of apps that completely reshape the way your entire organization works. But if you build it, how do you ensure that your colleagues will actually use it? As you approach designing a no-code app, it’s vital to plan steps to ensure adoption. Even if you create a flawless app that can enhance or streamline your business, it won’t work if people don’t actually use it. No matter how brilliantly an app solves a problem, it’s common to encounter colleagues who don’t embrace it without help. Some may dislike new technologies (or any type of change), preferring to do things the way they’ve always been done. Other co-workers may have a different view of the best solution. And some may not understand how to use the new tool. Whatever your specific adoption challenges, here are five proven tactics that can help you get your colleagues on board and help your no-code apps achieve their potential. 1. Sign up for the features you need To ensure adoption, your app should work seamlessly for everyone; done well, it can even  inspire other “citizen developers” to tackle their team’s needs with a no-code app solution. As you begin this journey, you’ll want to decide on the right no-code platform Service Level Agreement (SLA) for your needs (which is in part based on the features you want and the number of users your app will support). Here are three key factors to consider when identifying the right SLA for your app: Features It may be tempting to sign up for lower SLA levels for lighter users or developer groups, especially if your app creator team and end users don’t all need the same features. However,  it’s a best practice to give all app creators the same feature set to make sure everyone has the features they need and not preclude development. We recommend including popular features such as precision address geocoding, machine learning,  barcode reading, and QR code scanning. Also, make sure your company has registered all the domains they’ll need in advance of rolling out your no-code solution so that your domains function properly with the apps being developed. Performance Choose an SLA that offers the performance you’ll need so your apps run smoothly and quickly for everyone using and building your no-code apps. Factors such as server geolocation, data partitioning, and active database filtering may need to be enabled to ensure app performance. Hardware Make sure your no-code apps will work properly and securely on all types of hardware and devices used by employees, especially if you have bring-your-own-device (BYOD) options. Different tiers of SLAs may include different levels of security and hardware integration, such as on-device encryption and different user roles. 2. Provide training and onboarding Whether you’re creating an app for a team or inspiring others to create their own, it’s important to build a plan for training and onboarding. As a developer, your job isn’t done once your app is built. If you just hand it to users and expect everyone to intuitively know how to use it, users will struggle, which is why timely training and onboarding are key to successful app adoption. The same is also true for any workers who are considering building their own no-code apps. You’ll need to train and onboard them on how to use the no-code platform. Decide if you’ll train everyone at the same time, use a staggered schedule, or perhaps provide documentation that lets users onboard themselves. Consider creating documentation as you design your app (and be sure to include screenshots), and then test it with a few users who can provide feedback on the materials. Communicate your plans and launch timeline so users know what to expect and when.  3. Establish your no-code community Creating an internal no-code community at your organization that defines requirements, tests features, troubleshoots issues, and provides feedback can be a valuable tool for adoption. Your internal no-code community can include fellow citizen developers, colleagues who volunteer to be early adopters, and perhaps a consultant from your IT department and a division supervisor. Also, consider adding colleagues who might represent reluctant users of new apps. Gaining their input early on can help you anticipate roadblocks and overcome objections. During launch, your community can also advocate for your app’s adoption across the organization. And after post-launch, this no-code cohort can help with further app development over time by filing feature requests, testing new releases, and inspiring others to create additional functionality and apps.  4. Encourage no-code sharing to inspire development Reviewing apps that have already been built can help inspire prospective citizen coders who are dabbling in no-code. Check your no-code platform to find available samples from within your organization. When you launch a new app, post a data-scrubbed version of the app to your company’s intranet to share how you approached solving a problem with the app and inspire others to create their own no-code solutions. You can also encourage more no-code development and app adoption by sharing data across teams and opening up your development team to additional internal collaborators.  5. Plan for user support No matter how intuitively designed your apps are, you’ll inevitably have some users who struggle to get started with them. To ensure adoption and spare your inbox, offer a clear and easy way for users to get support. Begin by creating detailed documentation such as FAQs and video tutorials that you can publish internally. Check if your no-code platform provider offers helpful materials or links, as well. And keep track of questions you receive, incorporating them into self-serve support options over time. You can even build a no-code support app or ticketing system!  Using these five tactics can smooth the way as you design and launch your no-code apps and inspire others to build their own. Even if your app development is well underway, it’s never too late to use these techniques to improve your processes, enhance the success of your final product, and, ultimately, transform your business by driving adoption of these useful apps. Haven't started building yet or have a new idea to explore? Sign up for AppSheet for free today.

The Citizen Developer’s Guide to Machine Learning as a Service

You’ve probably heard of machine learning, and you’ve almost certainly experienced it. Machine learning algorithms help power everything from Netflix’s personal movie recommendation engine to Google Search and Translate, and research suggests that companies will invest $12.3 billion in machine learning by 2026, up from the $2.5 billion spent in 2017.  While large enterprises invest billions to  develop machine learning (ML) capabilities, smaller companies and individuals can sometimes feel that machine learning is out of their reach. After all, the average salary for a machine learning engineer is about $140,000/year (source), and learning how to code isn’t exactly a small task.  Luckily, one emerging technology trend, machine learning as a service (MLaaS), is removing barriers such as time, budget, and even coding expertise to make the power of machine learning available to everyone. Offering ready-made tools that can be easily adopted and fitted to various business needs, MLaaS is being used by business leads and front-line workers in an array of industries. So how does MLaaS work? No code needed: basic features of democratized machine learning Coding expertise is perhaps the largest barrier to creating apps. Software development traditionally includes everything from data collection and debugging to resource provisioning and security, which is (for good reason!) a full-time job in and of itself. Machine learning applications are no different, and require a foundation of complex coding before app development can begin.  No-code development platforms automate the bulk of this sophisticated behind-the-scenes work so that non-technical users, aka citizen developers, can tackle the business task at hand without touching a line of code. This means that teams and individuals can autonomously build and deploy apps made by them — and for them — in a matter of days, not months.  Whereas traditional models of app development require heavy cross-functional communication and weeks of iteration, no-code development puts the power to solve problems into the hands of those who know the problem best. Because no-code requires zero technical know-how, MLaaS is accessible to a much wider group of people and teams within an organization than traditional machine learning implementation.  With a no-code platform, anyone — regardless of their technological prowess or background — can build robust applications that are driven by machine learning algorithms to solve problems, increase productivity, and deliver a healthier bottom line. MLaaS and the power of problem-solving Like no-code development, MLaaS is not limited to any particular group, and is used by industries from manufacturing to healthcare to empower non-technical employees to improve their processes with powerful digital technology. Faster time-to-value: Business leads and process owners often know best where help is needed on the ground, but can’t wait weeks or months for diverse teams to coordinate, build, test, and iterate on a niche application built with them in mind. MLaaS makes it easy for process owners to build apps that do everything from helping users interact with data more quickly through natural language processing to interpreting qualitative categories of new data, within days. Process improvement: MLaaS can also help non-technical process owners significantly streamline workflows and existing processes. For example, MLaaS empowers any employee to build predictive models that can generalize from historical app data, providing the ability to forecast values and predict trends. Time reallocation: From supply chain optimization to inventory management and predictive maintenance, businesses rely on software development and machine learning to get things done. When the power of machine learning is distributed across an organization, the role of planning and execution moves from the IT and development teams, to the  people who know their challenges best. This frees up time for IT teams without sacrificing technical ability and growth. Tools that put experts in control As we’ve seen, MLaaS allows anyone in an organization to digitize routine work and automate tasks with apps that would have otherwise been too costly or time-consuming to develop. From HR and finance to sales and marketing, people in any area of a company can easily build apps that are customized for their team, process, data, and goals.  With no-code, machine learning doesn't need to be expensive to deliver enormous value. This democratized solution saves companies time, money, and resources, while empowering every employee to do her best work. AppSheet machine learning resources Create apps on AppSheet with the power of machine-learning built in. Exploring these resources to learn more:  AppSheet Intelligence features page White paper: Why the Future of Machine Learning is No-Code

Your Guide to No-Code Development

Want to learn about no-code development? You’ve come to the right place. Recently, we created a resource center where you can learn all about the technology, AppSheet’s bread and butter. Visit our “What is No-Code Development” page to find: A download of AppSheet’s latest white paper, Business Uncoded: An Introduction to No-Code App Development. Customer stories from no-code development early adopters. A library of sample no-code apps for you to explore, copy, and customize. Explore no-code development Check back frequently for updates to the page. In the meantime, comment below with any questions you have about no-code development, platforms, use cases, or whatever else you’d like to know about the technology. We'll do our best to answer your questions. Have no-coding!

How Apps Have Improved Five Key Aspects of the Construction Industry

What would the construction industry be without great tools and processes? After all, this is an industry where every inch, day, and dollar counts. The success of contractors and construction companies hinges on efficiency and attention to detail. As a result, technology has already made a huge impact on the field. Recently, drones, robotics, and GIS technology have altered the landscape of construction by optimizing mapping, planning, building, and data management. We can look forward to further advancements with the help of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and much more. But what’s happening right now in the construction industry? Apps, apps, apps! According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans now own smartphones—up from just 35% in 2011. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Our lives are dominated by the small but powerful computers that we keep in our pockets and purses. We can instantly access our money via mobile banking apps, post a selfie or three on Instagram, watch some videos on YouTube, and chat with friends on iMessage. Clearly, smartphones and apps have transformed the way we live but now this technology is changing the way people in the construction industry work, too. General contractors use apps to set estimates and manage bidding. Workers navigate job sites via mobile maps. Construction teams collaborate and scope tasks using digital punch lists. Foremen log and fix safety concerns on smartphones and tablets. This post explores the top five aspects of the construction industry that have been transformed by mobile applications. Whether you work in private, residential, commercial, or industrial construction, you’ll find inspiration on how to digitally transform your workplace. We've also put together a bunch of Excel templates and sample apps so that you can start working digitally today.  1. Project estimates and bidding Before any construction project kicks off, companies and prospects need to get on the same page in terms of the scope and price of the proposal. Historically, construction professionals have resorted to all types of methods and formats for estimate and bidding work—from pen and paper forms to spreadsheet templates, Word or Google docs, and PowerPoint slides. These solutions require a lot of manually entering and distribution of project estimates. Thanks to mobile apps, however, much of this work can now be automated and digitized. How applications help with construction estimates and bidding: Track materials lists. Estimate the cost of permits, administration, legal fees, engineering, etc. Send estimates directly to your clients via standardized email templates or PDFs. Capture signatures using touchscreens. Include photos to clearly communicate concepts, locations, and materials. Download our free construction cost estimation Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet quote and proposal app: 2. Punch lists Punch lists are essential tools for construction companies because success hinges on contract fulfillment and accountability. In order to pass final inspections and receive payment, all contract items on a punch list must be completed. Punch lists include work that’s incomplete or not started, areas of the project that were done incorrectly, or materials and work site features that became damaged during the job. In short, construction projects and inspections rest heavily on the quality and accuracy of punch lists. Originally, workers would literally punch a hole in the margin of a piece of paper next to a completed construction task on the list. Mobile punch list apps have since digitized this process. Now, you can keep and manage punch lists right on your smartphone. How punch list applications help with construction management: Create a single reference point for outstanding tasks that can be referenced by multiple stakeholders including owners, architects, subcontractors, and workers. Track and filter tasks by priority to ensure that all outstanding issues are resolved prior to inspections. Assign and change team or individual ownership of tasks in real time, which reduces errors and eliminates duplicate work. Update the punch list from anywhere at anytime with the most up-to-date information. Download our free construction punch list Excel spreadsheet template. Check back soon for our punch list app! 3. Safety reports and accident near misses The safety of a job site should be the top priority for everyone working in the construction industry. Of course, no one wants accidents on their watch. Unsafe working conditions put people in harm’s way, and also leave construction companies vulnerable to costly litigation. Apps that track construction site accidents and near misses are designed to save lives, time, and money. Near miss and accident reporting apps facilitate clear and timely communication between workers and managers so that incidents don’t fall through the cracks. How mobile apps help manage construction safety reporting: Workers signify the location and circumstances of almost-accidents so that near misses don’t become full-fledged accidents. Workers can document the specific nature of their accident near miss report, including uploading photos of the problem. Managers have all the information they need to make smart process improvements and secure job sites. Managers and foremen prioritize fixes to the safety issues based on urgency. Download our free construction safety report Excel spreadsheet template. Check back soon for our safety report app! 4. Mapping and site inspections Construction professionals thrive on their keen understanding of spaces and places. Blueprints are some of the most basic, yet essential, plans used during any construction project. Contour maps help workers, planners, and stakeholders better understand the job site and project progress. We all use maps on our phones to get around. Mobile map applications are so common that their impact can easily be taken for granted. The technology has so much potential beyond everyday consumer use. Digital maps are now integrated into mobile and desktop construction software to amazing ends. How applications can help with construction mapping and site inspections: Digitally map job sites for greater transparency into project scope, progress, requirements, and budgeting. Gather and track distances and measurements. Report progress on specific geographic areas of job sites. Access maps across multiple platforms (i.e. laptops, smartphones, and tablets) so that you have seamless information no matter if you’re working in the office or in the field. Save map data to work offline. Create maps from images that you upload. This can be used to map floor plans with interactive capabilities such as commenting. Download our free construction site inspection Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet construction floor plan app. 5. Time sheets Construction companies of all sizes require sound HR solutions. Foremen require accurate time sheets, while workers expect timely payroll processes. The smooth management of these vital components of your business fosters trust between management and staff, helps reduce turnover, and creates records for the legal protection of everyone. There are several options when it comes to handling employee time sheets. Word processor templates and paper solutions are unreliable given the sensitivity of the information being collected. Spreadsheets can quickly become unruly if not property maintained. HR software comes with a high price tag and may not be tailored to the construction industry. How time sheet applications help with construction management: Employees can fill out time sheets on their own smartphones, which saves companies the overhead cost of investing in additional hardware. HR, management, and employees receive app interfaces relevant to their roles. This reduces distraction and keeps protected information private. Increase transparency and employee morale through accessible and easy-to-use shift and timekeeping apps. Download our free construction time sheet Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet time sheet app. Build your own construction app suite Mobile apps for the construction industry promise constant, clear communication between workers, foremen, architects, owners, and other stakeholders. These tools have already become essential on job sites and their importance will only grow as our world becomes more connected. There are tons of options for how to fulfill each of these needs through technology—from buying out-of-the-box software to hiring developers to build custom apps. AppSheet provides an alternative to these options. Instead of building or purchasing individual apps, you can create your own unique apps with our platform. If you haven’t already started using mobile application technology on your construction jobs, don’t worry. AppSheet lets you build a whole suite of applications all under one roof.

AppSheet Named a Leader Among Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers by Independent Research Firm

Leading global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research, named AppSheet as a leader in Low-Code Development Platforms for Business Developers. We received the highest scores possible in ten specific criteria, including vision and strategy, startup experience, user interface development, mobile application development, data design, application scaling assistance, application documentation, and commercial model. AppSheet was among a group of select companies that Forrester invited to participate in its report, The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q2 2019. Forrester identified the twelve most significant low-code platform vendors and evaluated them against 30 criteria, which were grouped into three high-level buckets: current offering, strategy, and market presence. This marks our second recognition as a leader by Forrester Research in less than a year (in our first Wave appearance, we were named a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Mobile Low-Code Platforms for Business Developers, Q3 2018). In AppSheet’s vendor profile, Forrester’s report stated: “AppSheet has the most aggressive strategy and road map for empowering business people as developers. The vendor is dedicated to software creation without any coding, and it shows in a stellar startup experience and strong features for mobile app development, data design, application scaling, and documentation generation, as well as in its commercial model and growth rate. Reference customers were highly satisfied with the product’s mobile features and rate of innovation.” To us, this recognition demonstrates that our powerful platform is enterprise-ready and the ideal choice for business developers who want to build robust apps—without ever writing a single line of code.  The number of companies that are running their businesses on AppSheet-powered apps is on the rise and we expect this trend to continue as our platform innovates and evolves. In 2014, when we started this journey, our mission was simple: everyone should be able to make apps. This mission is still our guiding star. Yes, the platform is far more powerful today but with every robust feature we add, we also ensure that business developers can easily incorporate those new features into new or existing apps with the appropriate enterprise governance and management guardrails in place. We are humbled by this recognition and so very proud of what all of you (our customers) have achieved building apps on the AppSheet platform. As we've said more than once, customers are a part of our team. We are so grateful that you are on this journey with us. Thank you. To get a complimentary copy of this Forrester Wave™ report, go here.

How to Approach Your Boss About Making Apps

Since you’re reading this post, you probably don’t need much convincing about the benefits of building your own business apps. You’re already aware that apps can automate manual tasks like audits and inventory and replace traditional paper and spreadsheet-based management systems. You’re also aware that you can use a no-code development platform to build robust apps quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. Your boss, however, may require a bit of convincing before they give you the green light to start designing your own apps. This can be a frustrating experience—especially if your boss is stuck in their ways and is reluctant to ditch tried-and-true business processes in favor of digital solutions. Remember, just because you know that apps can benefit your company doesn’t automatically mean that others will immediately get it. After all, not everyone thinks rationally—particularly in the workplace. According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 percent of all cognition—including decision-making—occurs in the subconscious mind. Most decisions, in other words, are driven by unconscious urges and emotions—not simple logic. That being said, moving your no-code app project forward may require a bit of persuasion. To realize the true promise of no-code, you may have to sell your idea to your supervisor. The reward, of course, is that if you can get approval, your team will be able to work faster and more effectively. You will look like a rock star while your department flourishes. Here are some things to consider before asking your boss to invest in no-code development.  Anticipate pushback No-code is still a relatively new concept—and a revolutionary one at that. As such, many people are still under the impression that no-code platforms can only be used to create rudimentary apps for very basic processes. This, as it turns out, couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, global chemical manufacturer Solvay used AppSheet to replace many of its mission-critical paper-based processes. The company has deployed approximately 1,000 apps to date, with more on the way.  This is just one example of how companies can succeed with digital transformation with no-code apps, and there are many more. Beyond that, many managers are stuck in their ways and aren’t always open to adopting new tools and processes. Not everyone operates with a Silicon Valley mindset, after all. If you work in a traditional warehouse in middle America, for example, you may face more traditional views about how businesses should be run. This is all not to say that you can’t drive a cultural change in your company. It just may take some persistence and creative thinking. Respect the Ellsberg Paradox The Ellsberg Paradox says that people will overwhelmingly choose something that is familiar instead of taking a chance on something that is unknown. In business, we see the Ellsberg Paradox all the time when people avoid trying new processes even if it means continuing with a system that’s broken. To counter the Ellsberg Paradox and get approval for a no-code app platform, avoid uncertainty when approaching your boss about using no-code apps. Build a robust business case and demonstrate how your solution is secure and has proven to be effective in a variety of business settings. Establish common ground When pitching a new idea, timing is everything. Instead of rushing into a discussion about no-code app platforms, look for the right opportunity to open up a conversation and take it from there. When the perfect opportunity presents itself, channel your inner salesperson and get ready to start selling. For example, you could mention a common pain point—like how poor inventory management is impacting productivity, delaying projects, angering customers, and eating into your bottom line. Build a story to sell your idea, establish common ground on a particular area of focus, and offer a no-code platform as a viable and cost-effective solution. Come to the table with an example Seeing is believing—especially in the business world. It may be worth your time to build a sample app that you can show your supervisor to get your message across effectively. That individual will be impressed that you were able to design an app so quickly and will be curious as to how you were able to accomplish it. With AppSheet’s free plan, you can design a sample app quickly by leveraging data from your preferred source—like Google Sheets, Excel, or Dropbox. Believe it or not, you can build a functioning sample app in a matter of minutes. With a powerful sample app on your mobile device, convincing your boss to give no-code development a whirl couldn’t be easier.

Digital Inspection Trends: How to Maintain Your Competitive Edge

How are you staying ahead of the curve with your inspection practice? According to IDG's 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation white paper, over 44% of organizations have started implementing a "digital first" approach to business.  Once the monetary hurdle is surpassed, going digital is a sustainable solution that many companies are adopting. Some common reasons for digital transformation include: Investment in safe, and secure data solutions keep critical data from being compromised. Companies can easily minimize errors with automated processes and digital storage. Digital solutions increase flexibility and efficiency. Listed here are several digital trends in inspection ranging from up-and-coming to well-established.   Cloud-based storage & cybersecurity secure data When used properly, cloud-based storage serves as a preventative tool against common failures such as data loss, data breaches, and inconsistency across storage spaces. Several niche tools exist for this, but most commonly general cloud solutions are the primary storage spaces for inspection data. As security hacks continue to grow, so do the measures protecting this data. Here are several cybersecurity tools, ranging from expert-level to recommended everyday practices for employees, explained: Risk analyses: Running a check on all potential breaches and updating software to prevent them. Biometrics: Using fingerprints or facial recognition to unlock devices, minimizing hardware breaches. 2-factor authentication: Using two different devices to unlock an application. Here at AppSheet, data in your apps live in the cloud through countless integrations with well-established cybersecurity measures. Read more about how to digitize your data with AppSheet. Smart sensors provide predictive insights  Smart sensors are popping up all over, from monitoring the structural health of bridges to the safety and efficiency of assembly lines. What are smart sensors? They are small pieces of technology placed on the inspection area that track product health metrics, changes that could compromise quality, and machine operation health. In the past, people had to manually check all of these points, which can be dangerous and very time-consuming. Smart sensors help protect employee safety by predicting malfunctions in machinery, allowing employees to do so from other locations using remote monitoring. They also improve efficiency and help employees focus on improving manufacturing outcomes rather than diligently tracking for potential mistakes. Read about 3-D sensors and how they improve assembly inspection processes. Digital radiography is increasing portability, accessibility, and versatility Radiography is the process of using X-Rays to examine the internal structures of a component. It’s most frequently used for inspecting machinery, and it’s efficient because it doesn’t require inspectors to take apart the machines to look inside. Digital radiography is faster than traditional methods, which use film. The image quality is higher. It’s portable and doesn’t require physical storage space, and the process of capturing the image is much quicker. There are four types of digital radiography: Computed Radiography Direct Radiography Real-Time Radiography Computed Tomography They all capture inspection images, but the primary differences between them are contrast sensitivity, processing time, and the number of images captured. More information about each of these digital radiography types can be found here. AR/VR reduces inspection time Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are being used across the board for inspections. According to this article by researchers at Hamburg University of Technology, AR and VR are being used by several industries, the most prominent being aircraft manufacturing. The most promising use case is assisted inspection using smart glass. This startup developed smart glass for aircraft inspections, reducing inspection time from 2 hours to 20 minutes. It projects all the information about the materials, such as plate thickness, in 3D on the aircraft surface. This helps inspectors determine the exact size and scope of the problem, allowing fixes to get started right away. Mobile apps customize digital transformation With AppSheet’s mobile app builder, countless industries are able to utilize apps to move away from paper inspections and on to cloud-based, paperless solutions. Some key features for inspection with AppSheet’s mobile apps are: Signature collection. A map view to see all of your inspection locations. Workflow emails which you can set to send out emails when inspections fail. Easy data entry. Image annotations to track key inspection points. And More! Check out AppSheets Inspection apps, or learn how to build yours today. Read about how AppSheet’s customers have used AppSheet’s platform for inspection, and how you can too: Field Inspection: Millicom’s TigoUne Sees Field of Opportunities with AppSheet 3 Free Inspection Templates for Mobile Apps, Excel, and Google Sheets Smart Inspections - A Safe Bet for Manufacturing

Digital Trends in the Mobile Workforce

Recent advances in cloud computing, mobile connectivity, and enterprise app development are making it easier than ever for companies to manage mobile workers. As such, the demand for a mobile workplace has never been greater. More specifically, it’s anticipated that 50% of the U.S. workforce will operate remotely by 2020. On a global scale, 70% of employees already work from home at least one day per week. Employees increasingly expect their employers to offer mobile flexibility—and companies are rightfully paying attention. According to Global Workplace Analytics, businesses can save as much as $11,000 per employee per year for each employee who works remotely on a full-time basis. At the same time, 77% of employees feel that they are more productive working from home than in the office. Managing a mobile workforce also comes with its own set of challenges challenges—such as maintaining data security and employee engagement, among others. However, companies that are doing it effectively are unlocking the full benefits of a mobile team. With that in mind, let’s take a look at today’s growing mobile workforce trends. Using software and apps to manage remote teams By digitizing and automating processes that were once paper-based—like employee time-card management, field service data collection, and productivity management—companies are not only saving lots of time and money, they’re also making it much easier for their teams to operate remotely. Harvesting this valuable data in the cloud also enhances data quality and accuracy, as human error is less likely to enter the mix when compared to keeping track of data by hand. Additionally, mobile workforce management (MWM) services help businesses manage teams that work outside of the office. Generally speaking, a MWM strategy assigns devices and software to specific employees, thereby enabling businesses to monitor activities like software deployment, procurement, and productivity management, among other things. SD-WAN infrastructure is playing a critical role in enterprise software performance Advances in software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) technology make it easier for companies to securely manage enterprise data, apps, software, and networks remotely. Traditionally, wide-area networks (WAN) were used to connect satellite offices to headquarters via Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS is still being used in many networks, but SD-WAN is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative. By harnessing the power of private cloud or hybrid cloud infrastructure, SD-WAN—and mobile SD-WAN— enables businesses to bridge the gaps between data centers and branch offices over large geographic distances. This means that your business apps and software will operate faster, with less downtime, and with more security than ever before. And, thanks to its use of the cloud, SD-WAN lowers costs for most businesses, too. Expect to see more widespread adoption of the technology in the coming years, with the global market for SD-WAN predicted to reach $4.5 billion by 2022. Increased Focus on Security and Compliance As teams operate remotely, it’s important for management and IT to enforce strong mobile network security policies. Common sense strategies—such as requiring the use of strong passwords and biometric authentication—are helping keep accounts and devices secure as employees move from location to location. It’s also advised to conduct routine cyber security training to keep employees up to speed on the latest cyber security threats. On a more advanced level, security information and event management (SIEM) software enables business to remotely collect and aggregate security related incidents from their devices. SIEM also enables real-time monitoring of security threats from cyber attacks and data breaches. As data breaches become an increasingly common problem for organizations of all sizes, we expect SIEM adoption to continue to accelerate. Custom Apps Keep Mobile Workforces Connected As more and more companies adopt mobile workforces, they will need to use new tools and technologies to manage on-the-go employees effectively. While some of these tools can likely be found in out-of-the-box solutions, many companies are able to unlock additional productivity gains by using custom software designed to support their specific workflows. Instead of building these custom solutions from scratch or contracting an expensive agency to build one for them, leading organizations are increasingly turning to no-code development platforms that enable them to create their own custom apps without hiring expensive developers. Companies across nearly every industry—including real estate, construction, e-commerce and technology—are using AppSheet’s no-code platform to increase productivity and boost employee engagement across their mobile workforces. To learn more about how AppSheet can help you optimize your distributed workflows and streamline mobile worker management, check this out.

App Development Trends in the Energy and Utilities Industries

In the age of digital transformation, mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular in the energy and utilities sector. Today’s leading energy companies are utilizing mobile apps to facilitate a wide variety of tasks. From streamlining field inspections to tracking equipment and reducing truck roll-outs, mobile apps are improving nearly every aspect of operations. Let’s take a look at today’s top app development trends in this space. Reducing truck roll expenses Truck roll expenses—or the costs associated with sending a truck out into the field—can be very unpredictable. According to one study, the total cost of a truck roll is over $1,000. Of course, costs can vary from company to company. Still, whatever the price, truck rolls eat into margins and slow down operations. After all, companies have to maintain their fleets and pay for labor, gas, and insurance. The longer the distance for a call, the higher the cost. To avoid truck roll expenses, businesses are increasingly using GPS-enabled apps to reduce transit times, thereby streamlining workflows and driving profitability. Savvy companies are taking map usage one step further by tracking asset locations directly on their maps. For example, Kentucky Power, a large electric company with thousands of utility poles, placed each pole on an interactive map to make it easier for technicians to see their location and condition. Improving personnel management Energy and utility companies often have hundreds of employees spread out across a large territory, making communication challenging for managers and HR reps. Instead of wasting time using a traditional paper filing system, companies are now making apps with mobile timesheet forms, and incident reports, enabling near instantaneous updates using messaging and email. Apps, it should be noted, are also being used to send and receive contracts on-the-go. For example, a foreman might run into an electrical contractor and want to extend a formal offer for a project. Using an app, a contract can be shared, signed, and completed during a face to face conversation—saving time and preventing opportunities from slipping away. Tracking inventory Shipment delays can slow down utility projects significantly. When a part like a light, circuit, or power line needs to be replaced, team members need to be able to quickly send in a ticket and receive a timely response. In the past, inventory management was done using traditional paper and spreadsheet systems. Today, companies are using apps to request orders and track updates, expediting the process considerably. Facilitating data collection and sales operations Collecting accurate customer information while in the field is another major challenge for energy companies. Traditionally, most companies relied on field service technicians and salespeople using clipboards and paper files to gather customer-specific information, resulting in disorganized and inaccurate data. Just think: Technicians would often have to enter data in the dark, and sometimes during inclement weather. A sheet that takes five minutes to fill out could take a half an hour or more to try and decipher back in the office. Apps help accelerate field data entry, too. For example, PEG Africa, a solar energy provider operating out of West Africa, uses no-code apps to streamline sales operations and customer data collection. Over 100 sales associates currently use mobile apps to track customer payments, accounting, and sales commissions. Embracing no-code apps Energy companies also have to navigate the complexities that come with having various teams of employees, customers, projects, and tools scattered among several worksites—and, in some cases, scattered across several continents. For example, M&O Partners is a multinational sales hub that connects buyers and suppliers in the offshore oil and gas drilling industry. Recently, the company underwent a massive digital transformation initiative, digitalizing its processes. Today, the company uses no-code apps to streamline project implementation, process management, tool management, and network management. According to Janis Majors, head of special projects, M&O’s custom apps have saved the company a ton of time and money. “We are able to track, follow, and participate in hundreds of projects from a centralized location and with a lean team,” Majors says. Choosing the right apps for your business No-code apps not only save companies lots of money, they also enable companies to develop apps within a matter of days—as opposed to a matter of months. It’s important to remember, though, that not all no-code platforms offer the same level of support, flexibility, and customization. Research the market and make sure that the platform you ultimately select aligns with your financial and operational needs. Do your due diligence and you’ll make the right choice. To learn more reasons why companies are turning to AppSheet’s no-code platform, check this out. Better yet, if you’re ready to speak with our enterprise team to find out how AppSheet can be customized for your business, drop us a line today.

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