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Why dual-track transformation is the future of business innovation

After a decade of digital development and evolution, it was already clear at the dawn of 2020 that organizations agile enough to adjust and transform stood the best chance of growing their businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic has since shifted the digital revolution into overdrive, to the point that an organization’s ability to accomplish dual-track transformations — executing both long-term transitions and real-time process innovations — isn’t so much an advantage as it is a prerequisite for survival. 

Companies in just about every sector have been impacted by the pandemic, a tragedy that has become a once-in-a-generation catalyst for business change. The numbers are stunning: When Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of over 520 global executives this summer, 91% of respondents said that their organizations altered their operating models over the last ten months. Organizations have had to adjust to emerging challenges such as newly remote workplaces, facilities that require advanced safety protocol, and entirely rerouted supply chains, to name just a few.

As a result, 82% of executives said that the pandemic has rendered fast modernization of their workflows all the more urgent. While no one could have predicted the outbreak, the need for agility in operations shouldn’t have come as a surprise — even before the pandemic, another Harvard Business Review study found that 78% of the 400 IT professionals and CTOs surveyed said they weren’t willing to rate their transformation strategies as “very effective.” 

Rapid-cycle innovation doesn’t mean improvisation or figuring it out as you go. An organization needs to have the right tools in order to be able to adjust to new circumstances and innovate solutions to unforeseen challenges. Created for companies in search of rapid-cycle innovations, Quick Base’s low-code platform has become the go-to engine for creating safe, efficient, and sustainable new tools and processes to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the market. 

Low-code empowers employees to harness the power of innovation 

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Quick Base’s low-code application development platform was designed to empower employees in most every division of an organization — if someone can build a spreadsheet and do basic work with a database, they’re going to be able to take part. Departmental employees’ insights are particularly valuable, as they are the first to notice inefficiencies and pain points. They are also the people most equipped to prescribe practical solutions that don’t require massive investment or yearslong transformation to enact. 

The software is as powerful as it is accessible. Quick Base’s platform offers templates, pre-built forms, objects, and a wide array of functions that make it easy to build and customize key applications. Among many other things, these apps can enhance and extend existing workflows, automate manual processes, and make it easier to share information internally. Low-code creates regular opportunities for quick wins, which can accumulate into significant advances. Over time, those advances become competitive advantages.

In the Harvard Business Review’s July survey of business leaders, just 27% of executives said that they were happy with their transformation strategies both before and after the pandemic hit. Of those execs who were satisfied, an overwhelming 73% led organizations that used low-code applications.

Empowering employees to design and create their solutions also takes a big weight off of the shoulders of IT professionals, who have more work than ever in the face of relentless change. At the same time, Quick Base’s software won’t introduce any external threats or headaches for the tech department, because the apps it creates integrate with an organization’s existing IT and security protocol. Early adopters have seen unrivaled growth since beginning to use Quick Base, which becomes a default tool once integrated into an organization. Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, has created more than 80 applications and counting using the low-code software.

While every organization faces its own unique challenges, many businesses can right now be sorted into two broad groups: Organizations that have transitioned to mostly or even fully remote work and other location-centric organizations that have workplaces intrinsic to their business. 

In both cases, Quick Base’s low-code software has proven to be a catalyst for rapid-cycle innovations, allowing organizations to adjust on the fly as circumstances continue to demand it.

Transforming the workplace

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In the case of Metso, a leading process performance provider in the oil and gas, mining and aggregates industry, the challenge was twofold: Some employees could transition from office to remote work, but others had to remain on site. Actually, that created a threefold challenge: Developing systems and new tools for remote work, creating new processes to ensure the safety of employees, and finding ways for both sides to effectively communicate despite the distance.

Quick Base made it easy for different departments to address their individual needs while integrating those solutions into Metso’s larger organization. For remote workers, low-code applications were developed to track the disbursement of office equipment, manage the supply chain from afar, and connect engineers with on-site employees who needed their help. Given the sudden disruption to the business and the threat it posed by the virus, all of these solutions had to be developed on the double. Once those things were accomplished, low-code was then employed to generate reports, look into the supply chain, and streamline order management.

Metso also had to quickly reimagine and redesign onsite workplaces. At the company’s plants, a rigorous attendance and employee tracking system were put in place thanks to apps created with Quick Base’s low-code software. This has ensured that Metso is able to manage the flow of people in and out of the plant, maintain safety protocols, and ensure the health of its employees.

The results have been striking. Metso has saved up to 500 hours of work time thanks to low-code apps that helped employees navigate interrupted supply chains, been able to monitor cash-flow in real-time, and issue reports almost instantly. 

Low-code can also be used to create applications that extend existing systems and fill in gaps where long-term transformation has not been able to modernize. Enel Green Power, a division of a global renewable energy company, has long used Quick Base’s low-code software to supplement its central enterprise systems. After just one learning session, departments across the organization were empowered to develop applications that add new functionality without hiring costly consultants. 

Once Covid-19 hit, the rapid-cycle went into overdrive, with applications built for both managing compliance with various shutdown orders and further streamlining processes. The experience with low-code prior to the pandemic put Enel at an advantage, which it will continue to utilize as business needs remain in flux.

The pandemic’s impact is just beginning to be felt. The United States frequently sets new records for daily cases of the virus, and much of Europe is heading back into lockdown. We’re facing not just one large disruption but a series of ground-shifting events that are likely to continue, even after the pandemic is brought under control and a vaccine is distributed. Organizations that empower employees to adjust and innovate are more successful now and are more prepared for the uncertainty still to come.

Watch Deb Gildersleeve, Quick Base CIO, discuss how IT and line of business leaders can collaborate to dramatically shift the culture towards digital transformation: