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Empower Your People and Transform Your Digital Operations Through Low-Code

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Empower Your People and Transform Your Digital Operations Through Low-Code

By Nick Pike, VP UK & Ireland, OutSystems 

In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies are competing on all fronts. You need to provide a great product or service backed by outstanding customer support, develop new products at the speed of the market, and keep pace with ever-increasing user expectations. To achieve this, you’re scrutinising productivity, costs, processes, and technology, searching for ways your business can operate as efficiently and dynamically as possible. Sometimes, in the middle of all of this, I think we can overlook one of the most important factors: our people. Without a great workforce that is inspired and enabled by their employer, a company doesn’t have that critical edge that means success in today’s market. The workforce and its expectations are changing; businesses need to change with them to unlock the real power of their people.

A Changing Workforce 

Take a look at today’s employees. As consumers, they comfortably use technology to organise and enhance their lives. So, why would we or they expect that to change when they walk into the office? The lines between work and leisure have become blurred. So, what if we took the benefits of the labour-saving apps that employees use to organise their home lives and apply them to our business? Employees could get up to speed on technology faster because they’d recognise familiar elements, and their productivity and satisfaction with work would increase. Higher productivity results in greater efficiency, and higher satisfaction leads to greater retention. And, amidst all this, there is the greater ability to be agile and adaptable to changes in market and consumer demands.

Great App Expectations 

Remember back when you first used the Expedia app? For me, it was one of those “where has this been all my life?” moments. When you use Expedia and other apps like it, you become your own travel agent. You instantly access itineraries, tickets issued, timely check-in reminders, and tips. You can make decisions based on a wealth of real-time information at your fingertips, and all you need is your phone to get from home to your destination with a minimum of fuss.

Now think about your company’s internal processes. Typically, internal systems have evolved with new elements and data sources bolted on ad hoc. They might rely on manual effort, email, spreadsheets, and the like. For those who have been with the company a long time, this is business as usual; they understand the system and, though cumbersome, it does the job. But imagine how that process looks to a new employee who has grown up with the efficiency and intuitive interface of an app like Expedia? New generations joining the workforce will be less and less backwards-compatible with “old” technology. And, they’ll have much higher expectations of the systems they’re expected to use. Rather than spending time teaching Generation Z how to use spreadsheets, it’s better to upgrade the system so it works the way that they—and most people—want to work.

Transforming Digital Operations for a Better Employee Experience

At OutSystems, we help a lot of organisations that want to improve their employee experience by digitally transforming their internal applications. The typical solutions are composite applications, dashboards, workflows, internal web portals, mobile applications for the front-office or field, and small-to-medium-sized database apps. All of these put the information that employees need at their fingertips wherever they are and on whatever device they prefer to use. Because they have an intuitive user experience, employees work faster, more accurately, and with less frustration than when using patched-up legacy systems.

There are a few common requirements for all these projects. The first is speed: the pace of business means there’s pressure to develop, test, and launch mobile and web responsive apps. Secondly, many will need simple development of forms and workflows to streamline the user experience. Thirdly, there must be seamless integration with existing systems of record so information is always correct in real-time, and users can make fully informed decisions. The fourth factor is the ability to change rapidly and deploy updates to the system without the risk of glitches. Finally, organisations want to know what improvements the new processes are delivering, so productivity insights and dashboards for managers are needed.

Enabling Digital Transformation with Low-Code

Low-code development enables all this, as Logitech found when it adopted it for its mission-critical product launch app. A product launch is the company’s biggest activity, and it wanted a way to move multiple processes from Lotus Notes to a more up-to-date system. Using the OutSystems low-code platform, the company developed an app that brings everything together and can be easily modified. As a result, the product launch process ran more smoothly for everyone involved. Enterprise Collaboration Manager Steven Schmidt neatly summed up what they have achieved by saying: “Low code simply allows us to do more.”

That’s really the key to how low-code should be used in digital operations: to empower employees to work in a way that suits them and makes their working lives easier. Once that happens, we see a cascade of benefits. Business activities can be completed anytime, anywhere; employees are more engaged in business processes and more responsive. They’re also more likely to adopt a process that works intuitively, and that ease-of-use means support costs are lower.

Employees, just like consumers, have increasing expectations of the technology that is designed to support them. To meet those expectations and unlock the potential of a company’s greatest asset—its people—it’s critical to develop and deploy apps that put their people in the driver’s seat.

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United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks – sources

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United 777 plane flew fewer than half the flights allowed between checks - sources 1

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A United Airlines plane with a Pratt & Whitney engine that failed on Saturday had flown fewer than half the flights allowed by U.S. regulators between fan blade inspections, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The Boeing Co 777 plane had flown nearly 3,000 cycles, equivalent to one take-off and landing, which compares to the checks every 6,500 cycles mandated after a separate United engine incident in 2018, said the sources.

They sought anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly. United declined to comment.

Pratt, the maker of the PW4000 engines, advised airlines on Monday to step up checks to every 1,000 cycles, in a bulletin seen by Reuters. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it was ordering immediate inspections of 777 planes with PW4000 engines before they could return to flight, going further than Pratt.

Japan and South Korea have also grounded the planes for fan blade checks.

On Monday, the FAA acknowledged that after a Japan Airlines PW4000 engine incident in December it had been considering stepping up blade inspections.

A risk-assessment meeting was held last week to discuss the issue before the United engine failed on Saturday, one of the sources said, confirming an earlier report by CNN. No decision had been imminent ahead of the United incident, the source added.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; writing by Jamie Freed. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Nvidia forecasts sales above estimates as gaming chip sales surge

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Nvidia forecasts sales above estimates as gaming chip sales surge 2

By Chavi Mehta and Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp forecast better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter revenue on Wednesday, expecting strong demand for its graphics chips used in gaming PCs and artificial intelligence chips for data centers.

As people wait for COVID-19 vaccine rollouts around the world, stay-at-home orders have helped sustain the demand for chips used in personal computers, gaming devices and data center infrastructure that enables remote working.

The Santa Clara, California-based company’s gaming chips have also regained popularity for mining cryptocurrency, a trend Nvidia is trying to counter by throttling its gaming chips ability to mine for currencies and instead offering specialty chips for mining.

While Nvidia was long known for its gaming graphic chips, its aggressive push into artificial intelligence chips that handle tasks such as speech and image recognition in data centers has helped it become the most valuable semiconductor maker by market capitalization.

It has eclipsed rivals Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices.

Shares were up 3% at $597.50 in extended trading after the results.

On a conference call with investors, Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said that a global chip crunch made it hard to keep the company’s flagship gaming chips introduced last fall in stock and that the chips would likely remain in tight supply through the fiscal first quarter.

The company also said it will make a change to its gaming chips starting with the RTX-3060s to make them less efficient for mining cryptocurrency. The company said it will instead introduce mining-specific chips.

“We would like GeForce GPUs (graphics processing units) to end up with gamers,” Kress said.

Kress said analysts have estimated that cryptocurrency mining contributed between $100 million and $300 million to Nvidia’s sales in the fiscal fourth quarter. The company expects the new mining chips to generate about $50 million revenue in its fiscal first quarter, Kress added.

The company expects first-quarter revenue of $5.30 billion, plus or minus 2%, above analysts’ average estimate of $4.51 billion.

Revenue in the quarter ended on Jan. 31 rose to $5 billion from $3.11 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting $4.82 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue in the company’s gaming segment was $2.5 billion, above analyst estimates of $2.36 billion, according to data from FactSet. Data center revenue was $1.9 billion, above estimates of $1.84 billion according to FactSet data.

(Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Maju Samuel and Will Dunham)

 

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Running boom to help Puma recover after slow start

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Running boom to help Puma recover after slow start 3

By Emma Thomasson

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sportswear company Puma expects the financial impact from coronavirus lockdowns to last well into the second quarter, but believes global growth in running should help to support a strong improvement after that.

“We clearly see a running boom in the whole world,” Chief Executive Bjorn Gulden told journalists, noting that yoga and other outdoor activities are also doing well. He expects the healthy living trend to continue even after the pandemic.

Gulden said his optimism is underlined by the fact that orders for 2021 are up almost 30% compared to a year ago, with bookings for running products particularly high.

However, there is still uncertainty about when lockdowns in Europe will end, with about half of the stores selling its products currently closed in its home region.

For the full year, Puma expects at least a moderate increase in sales in constant currency, with an upside potential, and a significant improvement for both its operating and net profit compared with 2020.

Shares in Puma were down 2.9% at 1100 GMT.

“The wording on outlook looks softer than we had anticipated, even by Puma’s cautious standards,” said Jefferies analyst James Grzinic.

Gulden noted that a shortage of shipping containers bringing products made in Asia would impact margins, with freight rates likely to double in the next 12 months.

Puma will put a stronger focus on the women’s market in future, Gulden said, creating shoes better modelled to female feet for running and soccer and capitalising on partnerships with celebrities like singer Dua Lipa and model Cara Delevingne.

Gulden admitted Puma had been slow in creating its own app, but it plans to launch one towards the end of the year, further supporting online sales, which grew by 63% in 2020.

Rival Nike in December raised its full-year sales forecast after demand for outdoor sportswear drove an 84% surge in online sales.

Gulden said he is hopeful that the Olympics will go ahead in Japan and the European soccer championship will also take place after both were postponed from 2020.

($1 = 0.8226 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Mark Potter and Keith Weir)

 

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