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The Long Road to Digital Innovation: How the Right Tool Can Increase Productivity Exponentially

Last month, GeneXus hosted a live webinar, Developing a Killer Strategy that Transforms Every Employee Into a Digital Innovator, which was a follow-up to a recent Meetup we hosted at our Digital Transformation NYC Meetup (How to Build Enterprise Mobile Apps for Android and iOS in 1 Hour).

Leif Karlsen, Managing Director of Aniak Development, delivered an insightful, thought-provoking presentation at both events, which cut to the essence of the need among businesses to turn employees into digital innovators, and how GeneXus is the perfect tool be to help facilitate the transformation of staff.

Leif Karlsen

For over two decades, Mr. Karlsen has had his boots-on-the-ground, on the front lines of bleeding-edge technical initiatives for fortune 500 companies in several verticals, the military, and medium-sized enterprises. Along with maintaining a profound grasp of the current landscape, Leif was among the first to embrace the notion of low-coding solutions in the 80s. He is uniquely qualified to define where we have been, where we are, and where we are going.

Given all of the above, I felt compelled to share some of the high points of the talk he gave that was informative and thought-provoking, along with a little commentary of my own.

Understanding the Landscape

Leif opened with defining the problems faced by every organization with a digital infrastructure and online presence. He pointed out that businesses (as well as society-at-large) operate in a dynamic environment that is shifting at breakneck speeds, which does not allow for the traditional long-term-development and deployment cycle of applications. In the typical ecosystem, several applications interact across multiple platforms, which would require a dozen or so different “specialists” to develop code for each. Time, money, and the human resources, for most organizations, are simply not available to commission an army of experts, and in the rare instance where they are, complications with aligning everything is often a Sisyphean task.

These issues apply not only to projects at the plate, but for those on deck, as well, which frustrates long-term planning. As Leif explained, we know what platforms and languages are hot, today, and have a pretty good idea of what will still be in vogue in another 12 months, but beyond that, who knows? What you can be certain of is that GeneXus will continue to support the hottest technologies, vanquishing the reluctance to plan for, or commit to, anything other than that immediately in front of a business, over concerns that assets may not be in place to manifest a long-term digital strategy.

Tools: Skills Leveling

What Mr. Karlsen has found, working as a distribution partner with GeneXus, was that GeneXus is unrivaled in its ability to overcome the nearly insurmountable staffing, time and financial challenges businesses commonly face with their development initiatives.  An organization may have a team of in-house experts on web applications, but who lack skills in mobile development. Disparate data points, harvested internally and externally, from Oracle, MSSQL, Hana, MongoDB and others may all need syncing, merging, access, and management, which may require an expert in each of the respective domains.

With GeneXus, those issues are no longer an obstacle, as it adeptly and seamlessly publishes in multiple languages and formats, and works with each of the databases listed, along with many others. This is what Leif means by skill leveling – a crack developer of Python apps for use on iOS, but who lacks the expertise to reproduce in code the same program in Java for Android, can knock out both using GeneXus.

Translate Rules into Code

Even on the rare occasions that a firm, not using GeneXus, is able to round up all the cats necessary to tackle an enterprise-wide initiative, or one that taps into internal and external, heterogeneous resources, it is a daunting affair to keep that same herd of cats moving in an orderly fashion. There are just too many conflicts among platforms, languages, databases, schedules, and personalities to keep things rolling smoothly, in that scenario.

Consistency among coders within the same domain is also a problem, as there is invariably a plethora of ways to write a program and no two developers will choose to do it the same, if left to their own devices. This can make it difficult to merge modules that teams have worked on independently or to revise a previously generated app, especially when the original authors are no longer around.

GeneXus solves this dilemma, too. Code is tight and uniform, and current GeneXus releases are compatible with earlier versions. If you’ve got GeneXus, you have the original coder.

Experience with GeneXus

Leif also pointed out that businesses who have adopted GeneXus, have found that one hour of coding time allocated to GeneXus development equates to eight hours of production for the most proficient of manual coders. Because all platform versions are generated from the initial input to GeneXus, incompatibilities are eliminated. This, no doubt, goes a long way towards explaining why companies who have cultivated a workforce of digital innovators using GeneXus enjoy up to a 90% reduction in the development lifecycle. It would be great if that recouped time could be considered a luxury, but our world now demands it to keep up with competitors, much less outpace them.

During his presentation, Leif also mentioned that when primary stakeholders develop their own applications, as even non-dedicated programmers can craft apps with GeneXus, the focus is not on how to achieve something, but rather what those stakeholders wish to achieve. This is consistent with what I have mentioned in previous posts (forgive me if I at times sound like a broken record, but it’s hard to overstate how cool this is!) and what many users are all too aware of, is that in a shop full of digital innovators, who create the applications needed by their departments, nothing is lost in translation. This is so much more efficient than having to convey application needs to a team of coders, where items may be overlooked or priorities are misinterpreted.

Karlsen and his team at Aniak “walk the talk”. After having been turned onto GeneXus, a little over two years ago, they no longer have dedicated specialists. Career Oracle programmers can just as easily develop a solution for DB2, PostGre SQL and several other databases, as they can for one utilizing Oracle. Likewise, a “specialist” in any one of those other technologies can effectively code in the others. This is skills leveling and it makes management of human resources much easier, and a firm much more agile.

Focus on the Business Rules

If somebody were to take just five words from Karlsen’s presentation to use in their digital transformation strategy, those five words should be “focus on the business rules”. This succinctly defines the firepower GeneXus brings to an operation. No longer are a business’s goals subordinated to the code, and users are instead able to direct their efforts towards what they wish to present, rather than how it will or even can be delivered. This paradigm shift vastly enhances user experience.

To view the entire webinar which includes Leif’s complete presentation, you can do so here.

Sincerely appreciate your taking the time to read this post, and hope that it helps in some way. And if I can be of any assistance, by all means, reach out to me anytime (ajulio[at]genexus.com). And when you’re ready to take a test drive, sign up for our 30-day free trial here.

Antonio Julio
Head of Business Dev.
North America, GeneXus


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