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Your growing business and spreadsheets—a recipe for disaster (and how you can avoid it)

Business doesn’t grow in just one direction. When your revenue increases, your workforce, systems, and processes do, too. Collaboration becomes paramount, and the necessity of having a connected system hits hard. If your go-to tool in this scenario is spreadsheets, you might want to rethink its relevance in your business.

Let’s face it—spreadsheets, popular as they are, aren’t the most sensible tool to use in an evolving organization. They’re static, which is great when data is consistent and users are limited, but troublesome otherwise. Pushing them beyond what they’re capable of can lead to catastrophe. They start acting up—creating nasty errors, slowing to a halt, and, as the final act, crashing and taking your data with it.

A decade ahead of spreadsheets is database software. Conventional databases are far more robust and adaptable when it comes to handling huge data, but come with their own complex baggage. They’re difficult to set up, maintain, and work on, and more often than not need a database administrator to handle data processing and upgrades.

A dynamic business needs dynamic software that isn’t stunted by structural limitations or embroiled in technical complexities, and is user-friendly and affordable.

Introducing Zoho Creator, online database software that intuitively shapes itself around your business. Its repertoire includes drag-and-drop builders for everything from forms to workflows, native mobile apps with exclusive customization, extensive automation capabilities, real-time reports, and comprehensive dashboards, to name just a few of its many features. With our exclusive role-based access controls, you can share and collaborate without putting the security of your data at stake.

And the best part? You don’t have to hire a developer to get your system up and running. You can build and customize on the go, without going through the hassle of coding. From communicating with customers to managing inventory, you can do it all on Zoho Creator, without writing any code. What more reason do you need to #BreakUpWithSpreadsheets?

To sweeten the deal, we’re offering a free migration of your spreadsheets to a Zoho Creator application—and it’ll take less than 30 minutes. All you have to do is sign up, upload your sheets, and a shiny new database app is created for you!

Ready to leave your cells for a better view?

Taking supply chains to the next level with digital transformation

A critical question plaguing CEOs, leaders and managers in the supply chain management world today is — how to optimise your supply chain. Currently, many supply chains run in silos because:

  • No clear vision of what’s to be achieved
  • Agendas, goals and benchmarks are not aligned between departments
  • No visibility from end to end to assist personnel to prepare for bottlenecks
  • Organisations lack the technology to convert the massive amount of data they accumulate into meaningful insights

But digital transformation can push supply chains to the next level. A well-planned digital strategy can create a tightly integrated network that generates higher value for customers.

 

What’s digital transformation about?

Digital transformation in supply chains is about establishing a vision of how technology can be used to create new revenue streams, drive down costs, manage risks, and satisfy customers. Three critical elements define how CEOs, managers and leaders in the Supply Chain Management environment are implementing this:

1. Customer centricity

Customers are smart—the information age has given them access product comparisons, and prices at the click of a button. Since they’re empowered and can make informed decisions much faster, supply chains have to be agile enough to respond to them.

By keeping customers at the core of their digital transformation, organisations can create happy customers and retain them for the long term.

To do this, organisations must understand their audience and their preferred channel of fulfilment. They should have real-time visibility into which orders are coming in, and even forecast demand well in advance, to avoid stock outs. Each customer is now treated as if they’re a segment in and of themselves—a segment of one.

 

2. Predictive business

Market fluctuations are common in every industry—regulations get more stringent, relationships between different entities get more complex, and the pace of technology creates new business and operating models every day.

A digital transformation strategy formed by intelligent insights allows organisations to address issues pre-emptively. It also makes them flexible enough to adjust to environmental changes like the weather, and define new routes and adjust operations according to changes in consumer sentiment.

 

3. Complete visibility

There are two reasons why a comprehensive 360-degree view and complete transparency is needed in supply chains:

  • To allow organisations to plan better
  • To gain more control and avoid lapses that can result in unhappy customers or worse, regulatory action

Digital transformation sets up a virtual mirror for organisations. It lets them see everything that’s going on within and across the entire supply chain. It gives them the power to spot opportunities, identify gaps, streamline transactions, and standardise processes.

 

Digital transformation aids each stakeholder in a supply chain

Instead of working in silos with different goals, each stakeholder in the supply chain works in sync to deliver a competitive advantage.

Suppliers

With automation and analytics, demand data from the field can now reach suppliers who provide raw materials to manufacturers. This enables suppliers to plan for the future, enhance the design of their products and processes, improve their productivity, deliver faster, and reduce inventory. Manufacturers can actively manage supplier risk, improve sourcing by identifying the best ones to partner within different regions, and boost collaboration, thus maximising the benefits they can derive from their vendor contracts.

Manufacturers

Digitisation and IoT (Internet of Things) enables manufacturers to access detailed data in real-time. This helps them improve the production flow, set up consistent processes, and ensure a higher quality of the product. It eliminates the need for continuous human intervention because operations can now respond purely through automation, and can be managed manually during exceptions. The workforce can perform more efficiently in a much safer environment.

Distributors and logistics service providers

Process automation, advanced analytics, and next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence are removing inefficiencies from the supply chain and improving asset utilisation. For supply chain and logistics players, this means optimisation of routes and prices, and consolidation of shipments. It also helps identify ways to reduce transportation times and even deliver on competitive propositions like same-day shipping.

Inventory and fulfilment managers

Digital transformation enables better alignment of inventory levels. From picking and sorting shipments at a distribution centre to fulfilling smaller, specialised orders, the use of data and analytics has myriad applications. Robotics and autonomous forklifts in the warehouse are now becoming the norm.

IoT makes for a smart warehouse, which, combined with analytics, provides valuable insights from the sensors to everyone in the supply chain. It also reduces the time taken to process orders and makes intelligent recommendations on adjustments to be made. Digitisation drives down the total cost of operations through smarter inventory planning and optimisation, demand forecasting, and prescribing policies and service levels for delivering consistent high quality.

Customers

Automation allows organisations to connect with customers in real-time and provide value-added services to them, like notifications and instant updates on their orders, or even recommendations on what others are buying. This maintains transparency and deepens trust between customers and brands.

Digitisation also offers superior user experience and mobility, leaving customers free to access e-commerce stores or track their orders without being dependent on any particular device or having to talk to a person.

Most importantly, this is the point where a wealth of data about customers—their preferences and buying behaviour—is generated, and this data can be integrated for use across the entire supply chain upstream, right to the point of supply.

 

Enabling a high performing supply chain

By adopting a digital transformation strategy, organisations can enhance the supply chain ecosystem in a standardised manner. With tools like Zoho Creator, they can develop a client-centric business model that allows them to move from mass production to mass customisation. It also bridges gaps between previously isolated departments and raises supply chain performance to new levels.

This deep innovation, collaboration, and end-to-end customer engagement model helps them maintain a competitive advantage, stay on the right side of regulators and deliver the outcomes that customers want, when they want, wherever they want.

5 Digital Trends that are shaping the future of Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain and Logistics has undergone a major transformation in the past decade. Gone are the days when its management was a purely operational function. Today, the heads of supply chain have every reason to be in boardrooms—their decisions have strategic implications for the entire business and may well be the reason customers choose to interact (or not!) with an organisation.

In the “Age of Amazon,” customer expectations are high. The demand for quick, even same-day, delivery at the lowest possible cost is fast becoming the norm.

Combine this with newer regions opening up for trade, greater access to semi-urban and rural areas, and stringent regulations from local agencies and national governments, and you can see that the supply chain industry is in the midst of disruption—and technology is going to play a major role in shaping this disruption. 

Gartner survey, named “Improve the Supply Chain With Advanced Analytics and AI “, spoke to supply chain leaders and found that 96% of respondents use predictive analytics, 85% use prescriptive analytics, and 64% use artificial intelligence. These technologies and their applications allow supply chain leaders to gather essential insights into the workings of the various processes within their supply chains and empower them to provide smarter recommendations to business users. This has a twofold advantage—it augments and automates decision making and increases the productivity of human resources. 

Five trends that are going to influence how future supply chains are designed and operated:

  • Artificial intelligence

  • IoT

  • Blockchain

  • Advanced analytics

  • Custom applications

1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI and natural language capabilities are currently at the forefront of emerging solutions for supply chain partners. Three areas where they could be game-changers are:

  • In-demand forecasting

  • Production planning

  • Predictive maintenance

Machine learning takes historical shipment data and converts it into a forecast. These forecasts can gauge seasonal fluctuations in demand, and provide predictions at a product, store, or facility level, for any time frame ranging from daily to monthly and even beyond. Warehousing and transportation will particularly benefit from AI and machine learning, as their capacity to improve order deliveries and service increases with automation. For instance, using AI, a company can determine optimal routes for fulfilling orders promptly.

Knowing future demands allows businesses to plan production and predictive maintenance to a far more reliable degree than was possible before. Lead times can be drastically shortened so that customers receive their deliveries quickly. Using predictive analytics, businesses can know in advance when and if a component in the system needs repairs and create alternate production schedules to compensate for it.

2. Internet of Things

The more devices can talk to each other, the more communication can flow between them, and the more efficiently the entire network can operate.

The use of advanced robotics combined with big data gives companies a comprehensive and accurate view of the real-time status of their supply chain networks, partners, and shipments. Since IoT connectivity brings in data, it allows processes across the entire supply chain to be highly optimised. Many companies already use sensors to keep track of their containers or shipments, which gives them the ability to quickly respond to issues on the ground, and forecast and even prevent problems from arising in the future.

  • IoT allows continuous monitoring of critical equipment so that the state of every asset in the supply chain is known

  • It improves inventory practices, allowing managers to check inventory levels at any time and prevent stockouts

  • It allows transparent marketing to the extent that brands can even let their customers know where their products are sourced from and how they are acting ethically and responsibly

From optimising asset utilisation to improving overall supply chain performance, IoT can greatly increase the reliability of supply networks.

3. Blockchain

A supply chain can only be considered robust when all the parties in the network are known and trusted. However, the reality may be very different. There might be too many players to keep track of, varying levels of accepted standards involved, and it might be simply impossible to maintain a central repository of the thousands—if not millions—of records generated with every transaction.

The adoption of blockchain technology in supply chains can counter these challenges. All the entities in the blockchain network can know where any transaction originated from. This could entail anything from recording the source of raw materials to payments made to vendors to copyrights of assets. Since it’s not possible to erase a transaction within a blockchain, the only way a change can be made to it is by adding a new record, thus increasing the transparency of every transaction and ensuring the security of the entire operation. 

The shared ledger holds the same version of truth for everyone—all the players benefit from it, as the ledger is updated and validated instantaneously, as soon as a transaction occurs and is added. Blockchain can thus address issues in the areas of counterfeiting, enhance traceability, and provide more effective security. 

4. Advanced analytics

Advanced analytics gives companies the ability to work with processes in real time, or near real time. This has direct relevance in areas like dynamic pricing and replenishment. What in-depth analytics allows business leaders to do is extrapolate data from existing conditions and imagine future scenarios, thus allowing them to design more profitable processes and create highly efficient supply chains.

Due to the stringent quality standards fast becoming the norm in the functioning of supply chain networks, the ability to track products, optimise transportation, and even analyse returns on products and routes are important reasons for integrating advanced analytics into supply chain management platforms.

The biggest advantage of using analytics is that it forms a cohesive link between planning and execution, making supply chains both agile and highly responsive. It allows managers to set standardised processes and benchmarks, utilise assets to their optimum levels, and eliminate waste. What this translates into for supply chain leaders is that locked capital is freed up, cash flow increases, and margins are improved.

5. Custom applications

A one-size-fits-all software might meet the basic needs of any business. But organisations need unique solutions to cater to the specific requirements of their business and their internal departments.

Custom applications can be personalised to suit the unique requirements of individual parties in the supply chain. They enable both senior-level decision makers and on-the-ground executives to gain greater power with:

  • Real-time visibility: Anyone can find out where shipments are, at any point in time, with the app

  • Flexibility on the move: It allows managers to take data and insights with them, wherever they go, cutting down the delay involved in heading back to one’s desk to place an order or call people to provide updates

  • Dynamic tracking: Any potential hurdles can be identified in advance, and a mitigation plan set in place immediately

  • Increased opportunities for collaboration: Applications break down the limitations posed by geographical barriers, and enable a smooth flow of communication, wiping out the previously existing disconnect between different operators, and improves the cross-functioning of teams within an organization

  • Hands-free operation on the warehouse floor: Employees can ditch pen and paper because they introduce manual errors, make processes more time-consuming and don’t connect the dots between data originating from different entities

Are you ready to lead the next generation of supply chains?

The trade world is becoming increasingly open, and also increasingly complex. Customers have easy access to many options when it comes to deciding what to buy, where to buy it, and at what price, which is increasing competition. This calls for companies and their supply chains to be faster, and more flexible, efficient, and secure.

By leveraging these technologies, supply chain leaders can ensure that their businesses don’t just survive, but actually thrive in this highly chaotic environment, while also meeting and exceeding customer expectations.

What other technologies, do you think, can shape the future of supply chain management? Let me know I would be interested in your feedback.

8 essential features of an effective supply chain management solution

Trade is flourishing, and supply chains that were once linear are now a web of interconnected partners. Supply chain management software is a solution that oversees the movement of goods and data from the point of origin to its point of consumption. However, it also optimizes supply chain management processes, automates repetitive tasks, and provides a more efficient flow of information. This leads to more trusted relationships between partners within the value chain, more revenue-generating opportunities, and happier end consumers.

We’ve identified eight features essential to supply chain management software—ones that can help organizations create a solid digital supply chain and look at it from a more strategic perspective, instead of just the functional requirements.

1. Ability to integrate throughout the supply chain

Technology is an enabler, and a digital solution should introduce functionalities that span the entire supply chain, integrating multiple entities like suppliers, OEMs, shippers, warehouse centers, and customers. It should connect with all your other applications, including enterprise software, legacy systems, third-party applications, help desk, and email—regardless of the information source, operating system, or platform. This can eliminate connectivity issues and enable efficient information flow across a chain.

By bringing together disparate systems, people, and processes, integration creates a single source of truth for all stakeholders, eliminating miscommunication.

This also cuts down the costs of maintaining separate applications, and avoids overlaps in the features of each. This results in better production planning, efficient use of logistics, and avoiding stock-outs or excess inventory. The use of APIs, data connectors, and SDKs make integration with core systems possible, thus leveraging already existing infrastructure.

For instance, the ability to create orders and bill customers from a single, central location simplifies the work of operations managers. It eliminates redundancies and the chance for miscommunication or wrong orders. Flexible features within the order management and billing function can be used to customize the system to suit different customer segments or product categories, and cater to unique requirements.

 2. Real-time and collaboration capabilities

Real-time information is essential to avoiding things like bottlenecks, missing goods—and unhappy customers. With real-time capabilities, organizations are empowered to respond to changes in the supply chain immediately, as they arise.

Effective supply chain management software should allow multiple stakeholders to work together on a project so that they’re on the same page, without the need for frequent back and forth communication or manual updates.

For example, a fleet manager, a truck driver, and a customer located in physically different places can stay connected and have the same visibility on an order, thus increasing collaboration and maintaining end-to-end transparency.

This can be done through:

  • Personalized dashboards: A personalized dashboard gives stakeholders the insights relevant to them, at their fingertips. It allows up-to-date status monitoring of all processes, and simplifies governance.

  • Real-time notifications: Real-time notifications provide timely information on all supply chain activities. They keep stakeholders informed so that they can react to changes as they occur.

  • Self-service portals: In a supply chain network, there are many parties involved, and they need each other to succeed. However, they’re not all connected to each other, which can cause miscommunication. A portal is a password-protected site that eliminates communication challenges by enabling members to share information and plan operations based on each other’s activities.

  • Role-based authorization: Your application should be accessible to everyone, but not all the data in it. That’s why you pick supply chain management software that has roles and permissions which let you authorize vendors, customers, and other stakeholders to access only the information they need.

One option that has all these capabilities is Zoho Creator. It’s a workflow automation platform that fundamentally changes the way teams, leaders, and businesses get work done. Over 10,000 brands trust Zoho Creator as the best way to plan, track, automate, and report on work.

 3. Process optimization abilities

If routine, repetitive tasks are automated, it enables staff to work on more revenue-generating ones.

Automating the order-to-cash cycle as much as possible shortens the product life cycle, reduces the need for paper-based documentation, and creates tighter links between manufacturing, warehousing, and delivery.

Apart from automating operational tasks with custom rules, businesses can leverage AI and machine learning to optimize other tedious tasks, as well.

For example, software can be trained to approve a product only if it’s in its best-finished state, eliminating the need for manual intervention. This approach enables organizations to explore more agile ways of working, better manage high levels of complexity, and call in human intervention only in the case of exceptions.

Optimization tools in logistics and transportation help companies move goods in an efficient manner, at the lowest cost possible. This is important in the face of rising fuel costs, as well as constantly evolving national and regional regulations that can introduce uncertainties or slow down the movement of shipments.

4. Analytics and forecasting

Along with automating day-to-day tasks, good supply chain management software should help you evaluate your business, with built-in analytics and forecasting capabilities to help you:

  • Understand the health and performance of your business

  • Identify bottlenecks

  • Capitalize on your current strengths

  • Anticipate customer demand and plan future production

  • Spot inefficiencies in your system

  • Predict events which are likely to occur

 Some advanced software has predictive analytics that help balance disparities between supply and demand by providing data on both internal (demand) and external (weather, industry, regulation) trends.

With AI and machine learning, the software learns to identify risks and volatility on its own, and notifies stakeholders accordingly. This enables stakeholders to plan procurement and production processes efficiently, without having to buy unnecessary raw materials or store excess finished goods on warehouse shelves, hence reducing costs.

Managers can introduce innovative processes like predictive dispatch—anticipating future demand—while leaders are empowered to plan future needs better with accurate data and insights, as well as run what-if simulations to mitigate risks. In other words, analytics help organizations leverage existing data to make their future processes and systems better.

 5. Customization

Prebuilt components in the application and customized configuration of business rules introduce flexibility that helps businesses adapt to changes quickly and go to market faster, with customized solutions for consumers. Some supply chain solutions let developers extend their features with programming languages like Java and Python. Open architecture also encourages organizations to build their own applications to suit their unique requirements like developing multiple variations of a product to cater to different customer segments, thus maximizing profitability.

6. Cloud-based access and mobility

With cloud-based supply chain software, businesses can be accessed by authorized users from anywhere, at any time, so they can continue to manage, track and monitor the progress of transactions on the move. An additional benefit is that businesses can set up a cloud-based solution at a lower cost, in less time, and with less risk than investing in an on-premise system.

Organizations that have access to a mobile app for managing their supply chain and logistics functions have a better chance of staying up to date on various activities, like order status or shipping. Real-time alerts can be sent directly to users’ mobile phones, collaboration between different parties is enhanced, and immediate action can be taken in case of any issues.

 7. Security

Data security is the heart of any business software. While choosing a supply chain management solution, companies should evaluate:

  • Data encryption

  • Virus-scanning

  • Network monitoring

  • Audit trail

  • Fault tolerance

They should also ensure the necessary standards for secure communications between authorized parties, and that all technology-related compliance is maintained.

8. Scalability

Any software must grow with a business. And as organizations make inroads into new regions, expand their product portfolio, and acquire new customers, a supply chain solution should be able to handle the increasing volume that comes with it. It also needs to support multiple applications and additional channels without affecting the system’s performance.

The right supply chain solution results in strategic success

Organizations need to re-evaluate the designs of their supply chains to meet the sophisticated demands of the “always digital” customer, maintain compliance across borders, and create economies of scale.

By matching business objectives with the right product capabilities, they can leverage emerging business models, plan faster and smarter, and use supply chains as a source of competitive advantage. It can also mean a strategic advantage for businesses looking for global partners, as relationships between different parties in the network are strengthened in a connected, integrated ecosystem. Such a supply chain is capable of maintaining a customer-first approach, being more dynamic and freeing up cash stuck in traditional, legacy processes.

To ensure that your organization chooses a technology that yields the best results, consider software that covers all the factors we mentioned above. It could be custom software or an off-the-shelf solution, but it should add value to existing supply chain processes and contribute to business growth.

Everything you need to know about low-code development platforms

The term low-code development platform has been steadily gaining traction in the business world. It’s a term given to platforms that can help users rapidly build and deploy custom applications with less coding than traditional development. According to Gartner, “by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.” Quite a few businesses have started to realize the potential of these platforms and are actively using them in their digital transformation journey.

What is a low-code development platform?

A low-code development platform allows non-programmers to create applications with little to no programming knowledge, through prebuilt code snippets or blocks, with a drag and drop visual interface.

Furthermore, the platform eliminates the need for creating frameworks, linking databases, and other tasks that are typically included in traditional development. It also reduces the gap between business and IT, as both teams are working together to solve a real business need. It makes development easier so that even people without programming skills can develop applications on their own.

With low-code platforms, your IT teams can develop applications faster and with fewer errors than traditional coding. They don’t have to spend months building an app from scratch, as these platforms provide standard components, such as forms, report templates, and ready-to-use code snippets.

And most low-code platforms also offer readymade applications that can be installed and customized based on user requirements.

Features to look for in a low-code platform

Before switching to a low-code development platform, it’s important to look for the following features:

Visual modeling

The visual modeling interface of low-code platforms allows you to see how your application looks as you build it. The visual models are easier to understand than traditional coding text, which enables non-developers to grasp application design quickly. This also makes it easier for business users, as they know the logic of what they want to create.

Drag and drop configuration

Low-code platforms offer simple drag and drop interfaces, which help users and developers create applications visually, resulting in faster deployment. This is one of the most prominent features of low-code platforms, and something that is basic to all of them. It’s faster and easier to manage code through visual modules.

Security

The platform on which you choose to build your business applications should be secure, and offer features to make your apps safer. It won’t appeal to users if the application isn’t dependable, regardless of how functional or aesthetically pleasing it may be. When handling sensitive data, you can’t risk using something that potentially opens up a gateway to hackers. The right platform will have all the necessary security framework certifications in place, and proven experience with large-scale initiatives. Built-in security features make low-code a safe, reliable solution for internal processes in industries that deal with sensitive data assets, such as financial services and healthcare.

Multi-device deployment

If you’re building an application using one of the many low-code platform solutions on the market, this is a great feature to have. Building an app with multichannel compatibility—which lets your staff access it from anywhere in the world—makes things easy. You only have to create an app once, and it should be accessible on any device. Cross-functionality is imperative, since not all of your users are on the same device or platform. And with low-code, there’s no need to code for every single platform and operating system on the market.

Scalability

Another significant feature that should be noted is the scalability of low-code platforms. The applications created should allow you to add more users as your organization grows. Providing access to users based on job roles can be a difficult task when the number of users involved is huge. With a low code platform, providing access to the application is easy. You can control what end users can do at both broad and granular levels. You can designate whether the user is an administrator, a specialist user, or an end user, and assign roles and permissions based on the employees’ positions in the organization.

Benefits of implementing a low-code development platform

Low-code platforms are built to be beneficial to business users trying to create an application, and developers looking for a quicker development method.

Here are some of the benefits of a low code development platform:

Faster development

Rapidly evolving businesses require technology that keeps up with changing market trends. And low-code development platforms can be essential in such environments. The edge that low-code development gives is its ability to impact the delivery of new software significantly. Visual development is the key feature that facilitates this unmatched speed.

In the long run, apps built with low-code platforms help organizations become more agile. Say the user needs to add a new module or modify an existing one—a good low-code platform will support this without any breakage in the process.

Improved productivity

The knock-on effect of agility is that your development teams are now free from time-consuming menial tasks, like updating data whenever there’s a change. This gives the team more time to focus on coding, where human ingenuity is necessary. It also allows business users to create their own apps, which saves a substantial amount of time for developers. This also improves productivity for business users, as they don’t have to wait for developers to get to their request. As a result, projects will be pushed out faster, more efficiently, and at a higher standard.

Risk management

According to Forbes, organizations are finding it hard to keep up with ever-changing regulations. This is where a low-code platform comes into action. They allow faster transformation so you can meet requirements and stay ahead of deadlines, by enabling control of all risk management processes within a centralized platform. A good low-code application development platform can help reduce the amount of data at risk.

For example, maybe the marketing department wants to add its content to the app after publishing it. This is probably not a concern. On the other hand, what if your sales department were to keep highly personal customer information in the same app? Now, this is potentially dangerous. In these situations, it’s easier with a low-code platform, where you can add users and provide access to teams based on their roles, so that sensitive information stays safe.

Furthermore, it eliminates the skills gap while streamlining application maintenance and updates. Updating a low-code application for data security is easy and saves time.

Flexibility

Change is inevitable. But a low-code development platform makes changing applications and adapting them to new requirements easy.

Whether it’s a simple task or a complex workflow, users can achieve it without writing endless line of codes. Low-code provides capabilities that allow users to implement new structures or operation system models rapidly. These platforms have features that have been tested by different implementations, so the chances of bugs or security flaws are significantly reduced. And with the ability to build more apps in less time, costs automatically go down. It also reduces the need for more developers, reducing hiring costs and bringing relief to already-stretched development teams.

Customer experience

Visually appealing apps made using low-code enhance the end-user experience. Customers can get fully functional applications within weeks—or even days. This increases the understanding and responsiveness of the whole team, keeping them on the same page without distractions. Much of that time, which might be spent developing apps by traditional means, is saved when using a low-code approach. Instead, the saved time can be effectively and efficiently utilized in delivering richer customer experience.

Easily manage your business with Zoho Creator

In a world that’s changing fast, the ability to identify and respond to digital innovation opportunities more quickly than your competitors will determine if your company sinks or swims.

Low-code platforms are revolutionizing the way applications are developed, and it’s going to be the key software delivery platform in the coming years. This is because it’s expensive to hire skilled technical resources to continuously develop in traditional coding languages. There’s always going to be an increase in demand for applications from businesses, and they’ll need a low-code platform to be able to address that.

The world of low-code development is an exciting space to explore, and we’re in the midst of a massive change in how IT interacts with other departments. Now’s the time to invest in low-code platforms and embrace technology as an essential part of the organization.

You can start by choosing the right platform, with the features you need to build a customized application for your organization. Zoho Creator is a low-code platform that enables users with minimal technical expertise to create, edit, and run their automated processes—it gives any organization the power of app development. It’s been featured as a Challenger in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms (LCAP), 2019. And its intuitive interface and ready-to-use code snippets make it easy for anyone to be in charge of the processes that matter most.

Google AppMaker is closing its doors. Welcome to Zoho Creator.

What happens when the product or service you run your business on closes down? 

Google entered the low-code space with Appmaker, in 2016, with promises to make it easy for anyone in an organization to quickly create apps that fit their needs. However, they haven’t been able to keep their promise. A recent update from the company shows that, in just four years, the product is already heading to the grave.

In January, the company announced that they’re deprecating their low-code platform “due to low usage.” This short-sighted decision has kneecapped many business users and developers who relied on Google.

Appmakers, so what options are you left with?

Google has provided its users with multiple options that they can choose from going forward. Let’s take a look:

  • Shift to Google Forms if you need data collection. But what if your business wants to process data or configure workflows with that data in the future?
  • Use AppEngine if you want to build and deploy apps. But it’s not a low-code platform; hence it’s not suitable for users with lower technical skills. AppEngine limits the speed of development needed to create innovative business solutions.

  • Migrate to AppSheet to automate your business processes. But it’s a relatively new platform on the market, and doesn’t offer a drag-and-drop form and report builder. Other essential development features like sandbox and MDM deployment options are missing, too.

Zoho Creator—a pioneer in the world of low-code

Developing and deploying applications for your business is a huge, important undertaking. Your business not only needs time and resources to build the applications but also a hefty budget to invest in the project. Zoho Creator, was featured as a challenger in the Gartner 2019 LCAP Magic Quadrant. It’s a low-code platform that’s been around for more than a decade, with constant updates to keep it significant and relevant to its users. Over 10 thousand businesses across 170-plus countries have built over 5.5 million custom apps to manage their data and run day-to-day operations using Zoho Creator.

Here are just a few reasons why businesses stay with Zoho Creator

  • One-stop solution to cater to all your business needs—data collection, process automation, analytics, integrations, and much more.
  • Short learning curve and a rich ecosystem of visual builders that abstracts away development complexities, enabling users and developers to build applications.
  • Be it an interactive form, an automatic workflow, or a comprehensive dashboard, users can create almost any element of an application with its drag-and-drop interface, reducing the need for manual coding.
  • Applications you create are automatically available on multiple platforms (web, mobile, and tablet) with the flexibility to customize features for different devices.
  • Prebuilt connectors and APIs help users integrate their applications with existing systems in place, and other cloud services.
  • Our platform offers built-in security features, like audit logsuser-access controland automated threat assessment, to ensure data security.
  • 24*5 access to our solution experts over text, email, and telephone—plus access to user forums providing the opportunity to interact with our most valued professionals (MVPs), developers, and fellow users.
  • Most importantly, Zoho Creator offers flexible pricing plans to support organizations of all sizes.

Want to give it a shot? Try Zoho Creator today, and if you need assistance we’re always around to guide you through the migration process. Creator was built by Zoho, a 23-year-old, bootstrapped company that cares deeply about its customers. We promise we’ll have your back, no matter what.

10 things to look out for when choosing the right education management software

With the rapid digitalization of the education industry, schools must be able to offer the latest management and educational methods available. And once you realize that technology makes running your institute easier and more efficient, there’s no turning back.

But first you need to find an application that does what you need it to do. With all the options out there, how do you choose a platform that’s just right? You don’t want to spend valuable time and resources on an application that does only half the job.

Here’s a simple checklist of the quintessential features and tools you need to look for in an education management application:

 1. Online 24/7: One of the most basic features of an app is its availability—it has to be accessible whenever it’s needed. You wouldn’t want the app to shut down while a student is uploading their assignment, or a teacher is entering grades.

 2. Personalized portals: A portal is a great way for an organization to allow its users to log into their dedicated internal system and access important data. Teachers, students, and parents can each have their own login to access the app and view student submissions, assignments, grades, and more.

 3. Payment options: When collecting fees online, it’s essential that your app is linked to a payment portal, for the parents to be able to pay fees, or for admin to buy office supplies. The application must be able to accommodate different payment gateways for this process to happen.

4. Integration: Your application should be able to integrate with other third party vendors and services, such as Google, Paypal, WordPress, and more. For example, you can integrate your education management application with other core apps, like an employee database to retrieve student and faculty details. These integrations can enhance your application by grouping various services all in the same place. This feature greatly aids you when you want the benefit of handling transactions through your app, or if you wish to send SMS notifications and emails to parents or students.

 5. Multiplatform usage: With continuing advancements in technology, it’s unlikely that users will only access your application from a computer. The application should be able to launch on any modern platform—including phones, laptops, and tablets. And don’t forget that it needs to be able to adjust to fit different screens.

 6. Cloud-based: No one wants to lose their data. With all the paperwork and folders, it’s easy to misplace important data and records. Not to mention the time it takes to browse through those files to find a single bit of information, whether it’s a student record or a fee receipt. With cloud-based technology that collects, stores, and saves an institution’s data at a centralized location, educators can easily access and utilize data at any time, from anywhere.

 7. User-friendly: One of the basic requirements of an application is that it be user-friendly. There’s no point in using an app that you can’t make heads or tails of. Not everyone is tech savvy, which is why your app needs to be easy to learn and understand.

 8. Generate reports: Gone are the days when creating a decent report involved configuring data manually and using your imagination to convert it into a visual representation of your numbers. Applications can now automatically create graphical reports on any data that’s entered, like student grade comparisons or classroom attendance reports.

 9. Customizable: There’s no point in an application if you can’t customize it according to your specific needs and requirements. Not every institution has the same set of requirements for an app, so finding one that can be tailor-made for you is the goal.

 10. Increase ROI: From the minimum cost of implementation to going paperless, there are many factors that affect the return on investment of an education management application. But when packaged together, everything we’ve talked about above will ensure a significant increase in ROI

Riko Solutions acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the true custodians of the land in which we live and work.