There’s an old joke about an IT manager (one of many ways it is told) who tries a demo copy of heaven and another one of hell. In the demo, folks in heaven are just laying around bored on clouds, while in hell souls are partying, golfing, swimming and having a grand-old-time. So, when the manager passes and St. Peter asks him, at heaven’s gate, where he wants to go, he of course opts for hell, where the demo showed the good times to be. Once in there, he finds that it is eternal burning and misery, and nothing like what was depicted in the demo. Confused, he asks the devil about it, and the devil replies: “You tried the demo”
We at GeneXus understand that joke (been around long enough to have it played on us) and how there is warranted distrust of software publishers, especially when they make bold claims. A lot of folks shoot us a skeptical side-eye, when we tell them that they can develop a mobile app, in under an hour, using natural language – simply sounds too good to be true. This is why I am so excited to share details of our upcoming webinar, Developing a Killer Disruption Strategy that Transforms Employees Into Digital Innovators, on February 27th. One of the guest speakers will be Russell Henry, VP of SOS Retail, which has wholeheartedly adopted GeneXus and spawned a thriving citizen-developer community, among their staff, as a result.
For some background, SOS Retail was on the same life raft, a couple of years ago, that many established businesses find themselves in, and wanting/needing to get to a much better boat. SOS Retail’s niche is commercial construction for retail clients. They handle everything from resets, to remodels, to complete construction from the ground-up. SOS can tackle independently, or augment an internal groups team, every aspect of the construction process, which includes surveying prospective sites, designing stores, construction and even the final leg of merchandising and its associated logistics. AutoZone, JC Penney, Target, Walmart, Kroger, The Home Depot are just a few of their clients – they are serious about retail construction and they’re very good at it.
The problem Mr. Henry’s group faced, a couple of years ago, was that one of their key distinguishers, which their clients adored and paid for, had become somewhat outdated. SOS had been an early adopter of web-based services, and had developed a proprietary project-management solution, tailored for how they handled retail construction. However, the original solution was developed in the mid-90s, and desperately needed revising. The copy was not compatible with .net 4.0, did not support SQL 2012, or provide a good user experience on a mobile device – SOS needed a tune-up in a bad way.
Unfortunately, the in-house team of developers that produced the original app were no longer with SOS. A third-party solution, used by many competitors, was out of the question, as the generic look offered from off-the-shelf-type applications, and features that managed the specific needs of SOS and their clients were just not there. The unique features of the original solution helped distinguish SOS from their competitors and their clients loved it, and it was imperative that the new version met the same, high standards.
SOS was not keen on farming out the work, given cost and complications, nor were they game for hiring devoted developers. They also wanted to maintain complete control of the code in order to make changes on-the-fly, test new ideas, and generally tinker with. Along with lack of control and complete ownership of the code, as SOS and anyone who has ever contracted with an outside developer knows, it is something of a crap-shoot. So, they decided to do it in-house and took a shot with GeneXus.
GeneXus delivered in spades and, years later, Russell and his SOS team could not be happier, which is probably why he is eager to share his story and take questions in our upcoming webinar. SOS in-house staff, which were not dedicated developers, created the second-generation, custom application with SOS’s look and feel throughout, as well as all of the functionality and connectivity that they needed.
GeneXus fit-the-bill in every aspect. Mr. Henry is a big believer in open source, and he was able to tap into the nearly unlimited resources offered in that domain, evaluate and take what he needed – saving big bucks, in the process. The SOS team spun out a mobile-optimized copy of the new app, which is a huge hit with his users, along with a desktop piece. New app is compatible with .net 4.0 framework, and connects seamlessly to the SQL 2012 server, used by his group. Henry’s team also likes that they own the code, and can update it anytime, quickly and easily, using GeneXus’s live-editing feature. Everything he needed – done.
Cooler still, once SOS caught the citizen developer bug, they began producing all manner of applications for internal use. It’s a great story, and words here cannot do it anywhere near justice. If your schedule permits on the 27th and you want to learn more about how a cadre of citizen developers can be nurtured using GeneXus, then, by all means, join us for this informative and inspiring presentation and Q&A with Russell.
While Mr. Russell’s story is unique in that it is focused on commercial construction for the retail sector, it is ubiquitous in the sense that many organizations need an economical means of delivering and supporting a custom solution. SOS’s story of the human experience and process is easily transferrable to any industry, and definitely one worth hearing.
Also, on the panel, will be Leif Karlsen, managing director of Aniak Development. Mr. Karlsen has been engaged in low-code software since 1984, and has helped transformed organizations into cultures of digital innovators. He will discuss what he has seen succeed in the transformation process, and how company’s can support employees making the transition, along with other items that will be of interest to anybody seeking to implement low-code tools in their workplace.
I will be doing a presentation on training employees on powerful automation tools like GeneXus, among other things. And the three of us will be available for the Q&A.
Before signing off, want to give a shout out here to all who signed up for our current, five-week-training course. We were overwhelmed by the interest and number of people who enrolled. Looks like we will probably back it up with another session so, if you are interested and have questions, you can follow link and get more info.
As always, appreciate you having taken the time to read this, as well as your continued interest in GeneXus. A lot of big news coming in the next few months, and will be sure to continue to share it here.
Much appreciate your continued readership and please feel free to contact me directly to discuss your company’s innovation strategy.