This article was contributed by Malcolm Carroll, director at BlueFinity International

As companies look for ways to support their recovery post Covid-19, many are developing business apps, using low-code app development tools to accelerate the development process and reduce costs.

The creation and timely introduction of innovative business apps can provide businesses with a sound basis for economic recovery. 

Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on business and the economy, but we have also seen that it has prioritised the pace of digitalisation in many organisations and increased the demand for apps. Companies are now seeing apps as a way of responding to the challenges of the virus and to subsequent changing consumer and business behaviour.

According to mobile analytics firm App Annie the pandemic “has changed consumer behaviour on mobile forever” with its latest statistics highlighting that Covid-19 has driven consumer spending on apps to $50 billion in the first half of 2020, up 10% from the second half of 2019.

Other research from McKinsey showed that digital interaction with B2B customers is now two times more important than traditional channels—more than a 30 percent jump since before the COVID-19 crisis hit. 

Increasingly, we are seeing businesses creating apps to streamline and improve their internal processes, to automate different functions and improve how they trade and interact with their customers.  Those who thought they did not need an app may need to think again. 

 Why develop an app?

Apps allow businesses to deliver all or part of their services to customers on mobile devices and laptops, as well as traditional desktops.  Today, apps are being used for everything from ordering grocery shopping to fitness tracking, day to day banking, for ordering a in a pub, coronavirus track and trace monitoring to monitoring mental health. Businesses cannot afford to get left behind in this increasingly savvy technological world. 

The security and flexibility of an app, in a world where people are working from home, social distancing and changing their routine on a continual basis, can help companies adapt and aid their business recovery. What is more, if a company’s main competitors now have a fully functioning app, then they will also need to develop one or risk losing customers.

One of the best ways that companies can develop apps, without the expense of employing a team of developers, is by using a low-code app development platform as it will allow sophisticated business apps to be created and deployed without the need for outside software developers.

Benefits of using low-code platforms

Low-code platforms are enabling businesses to create apps in a fraction of the time and cost of more traditional methods. They enable companies to design, develop and deploy adaptive business apps across multiple mobile and desktop devices using their existing staff.

These platforms do not require people to have any coding skills as they make extensive use of ‘drag and drop’ and ‘point and click’ development techniques. The platforms should also allow companies to develop an app once and deploy it across multiple mobile and desktop devices, multiple operating systems and integrate with any database.  

The selection of the right development platform should also provide the flexibility to customise the apps to the client’s exact requirements either directly through the platform or by the addition of custom code and should enable businesses to choose to generate their apps as either web, hybrid, or native apps from the same design base. Ultimately, they must provide the client with no limitations for future customisation and development possibilities.

One company that has used low code app development in lockdown is Classic Groundcovers, a wholesale nursery based in Georgia, USA that sells plants to nurseries, re-wholesalers and landscape contractors. They used a low-code app development system, Evoke, to create an app to digitise its manual ordering system and to enable the company to handle a record volume of sales.

Spring is always their busiest time. This year orders were exceptional as the pandemic forced people to stay at home and many turned to gardening. This in turn led to an increase in the demand for plants. 

The company had operated a manual order system and when order volumes were high, managing orders used to take up to 12 hours a day of administration and the situation was unsustainable. Classic Groundcovers decided to create an app to automate their order processing, reduce their administration, and ensure they could manage high volumes of orders. 

They chose to use the Evoke low-code development platform for speed and ease, and because they did not want to have to recruit a team of outside developers. The result was they were able to design, create and fully deploy their app in under 90 days. 

The company said that having the app has had a ‘ground-breaking’ effect as it has automated their order processing; enabling them to not only manage the surge in orders but grow the business and halve the time spent on administration.

To conclude

As companies start to recover from this pandemic, they will be looking for new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies and many will turn to low-code app development tools to create apps more easily and cost effectively.

The recommendation is that companies do not delay decisions to go digital until ‘things get back to normal’ as they could miss a significant opportunity to get their business ready for the post Covid-19 world. The business world has changed and in many instances the changes will become a more permanent part of life. 

Now is the time to not only be responding to the changes but also to be planning for the future. In the world of business and commerce, the introduction of the right apps can provide the point of difference that is so often needed to stay ahead of the competition.