The COVID-19 pandemic has become the decisive test for business adaptability. To continue business as usual, organizations have to adapt to a new era where social distancing and digital interactions are the norm.

To do so, many businesses worldwide, particularly in the areas most affected by the virus outbreak, are adopting remote work policies and new channels of interaction with customers, including the use of mobile apps to smooth collaboration and communication. Although laptops are still key to a successful move to this new reality, mobile devices are essential in our professional and private lives. In fact, consumers spent 1.6 trillion hours in mobile apps in the first half of 2020. And, the time spent in business apps increased by 220 percent, when compared to the last quarter of 2019.

Companies are moving faster and taking bigger risks than they would have imagined a few months ago to meet employee and customer demands. Yet, according to the Speed of Change report, only 24 percent of senior IT leaders and professionals state they are able to cope well with change.

Fast app development: Organizations that better cope with change
Organizational Agility Assessment (Source: Speed of Change

Despite the investments to accelerate application development, organizations that struggle with change also spend most of their time and budget on feature fixes, “keep the lights on” repair work, and various forms of technical debt. This kind of maintenance work really hinders innovation. Furthermore, the majority of companies interviewed for this report also struggle with a tech talent shortage and talent gaps, making it harder for them to adopt modern IT architectures needed for agility.

So, in the midst of this scenario, where talent shortage, limited budgets, and increasing backlogs are the reality, how can companies adapt? How can they deliver mobile apps their customers and employees are craving to conduct business as usual in a world that’s unusual? The answers are in this blog post. Here are stories of three companies that were able to innovate and gain competitive advantage with a mobile strategy delivered in record time. 

A Mobile Engagement Portal for Photography Lovers

Canon mobile engagement portal

Keypoint Intelligence is a leading provider of product information, market research, and lab testing for B2B equipment and software companies. With a team of fewer than 20 developers, it was difficult to sustain the amount of effort and resources required to deliver prototypes in response to prospective customer RFPs while also meeting the ongoing development needs of existing clients. Not only that, but every client project needed a completely new set of custom code, and each application varied in scope and complexity. As a result, development cycles alone often took months.

So, Keypoint set out to find a platform that would offer the development capabilities it required to replace many of its internal “micro” applications—including aging ingestion and data management interfaces—and create the complex, custom applications its customers required.

Among the several projects Keypoint has developed using OutSystems is a new engagement portal for Canon built by just two developers (one of them part-time) in just three months. Available for iOS and Android devices, this mobile portal includes training videos and documentation, software and firmware updates, and information about upcoming promotions. There’s also an automated AI-bot connecting to the Canon support site, and integrated with other key infrastructure, including Amazon Web Services.

This connection will be crucial when Canon enables the visual recognition feature, allowing customers to to take a photo of their product on their device’s camera and use it to search for specifications or support.

Transforming the Shopping Experience With a Store of the Future

Store of the future video

In the competitive supermarket field, one of the world's largest discount grocery groups, Jerónimo Martins, wanted to explore how it could transform the shopping experience with new technology. The grocer’s mission was to ensure a convenient purchase for customers in less than 1-minute while supporting 24x7 operation. To that end, Jerónimo Martins launched a pilot store of the future for tomorrow’s consumers.

Strategically located near a university campus, the rationale was to offer a speedy shopping alternative to students and faculty staff, who often have just minutes between the end of one lecture and the beginning of the next. So, minimizing shopping time and avoiding check-out queues were essential aspects of the experience design.

With a team of seven people, including three developers, one front-end developer, one engagement manager, one UX/UI designer, and one delivery manager, Jerónimo Martins built the first solution in around 20 weeks, in two-week sprints.

The full project includes four applications: the consumer mobile app, an app for retail staff, the production app, and the back-office app, along with dependencies on third-party systems. These four apps include:

  • Customer registration with an SMS confirmation code
  • Store entry via QR code – similar to an airport security gate
  • An in-app landing page for promotions and store gifts
  • Shopping – add to basket with tap-and-go on NFC tags or barcode scan (for users with smartphones that don’t have active NFC)
  • Payment – with a variety of payment methods, including credit cards
  • Store exit via QR code
  • Go 24/7 – the ability to buy products outside of the store from a computer vision enabled secure display cabinet.

Starting from Scratch: a New Mobile App to Increase Customer Engagement

MyIperen mobile app

Van Iperen—part of the Thesis Holding—is a Dutch producer of fertilizers and a distributor of crop protection products that serve a global market.

In the late 2000s, Van Iperen became a technology leader in its industry by being the first to launch a native application for smartphones that customers could use to submit orders and check product status. However, over the years, maintaining the app turned into a complex, time-consuming task. Not only that, but the lack of documentation on the inner workings made it even more difficult to make the simplest change. To keep up with the market, Van Iperen needed to find a faster way to update their app and develop new digital services for its customers.

The first priority was to rebuild the MyIperen web and mobile application. Using OutSystems, Van Iperen was able to add many new features in addition to the previous order submission and tracking functionality, including:

  • Detailed purchase history: Customers can access the information about the nutrients in every Van Iperen product they’ve ever used, helping them monitor their long-term fertilizer use in line with each crop’s specific requirements.
  • Automated repeat orders: Now, customers don’t have to submit individual orders every time they need more fertilizer—and Van Iperen’s back office gets greater visibility of likely upcoming demand.
  • Google Maps integration: Farmers and growers have a whole new way to track the health of their crops. Using GPS, customers (and Van Iperen advisors) can tag instances of plant diseases or pests at the appropriate location on their land, alongside pictures of the issue. That information is automatically shared with their advisor at Van Iperen.

Development and delivery of the MyIperen mobile app and web application took eight months and involved three developers. And the results are showing: in the first three months of 2020, Van Iperen processed more orders through the new system than in the entirety of 2019, demonstrating the popularity of the new app with customers.

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