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How fast are your business processes? Today, many businesses still rely on Excel spreadsheets, paper forms and an endless flow of emails to help them stay on top of essential business activities – be it recruiting, maintenance, or project management.

These traditional, manual processes effectively place a cap on productivity – to the point where some of the more tech-savvy employees resort to finding their own, potentially less-than-secure, workarounds.

That’s why ever more companies are digitising their processes with the help of mobile apps, delivered from a secure, centralised platform.

It’s little surprise that, in its recent Mobility Research report, Accenture found that eighty-seven percent of IT leaders are turning to mobile apps as their “portal to behaving as a digital business.”

The dangers of inertia

You don’t get ahead today without being speedy. As Ulrik Nehammer, CEO for Coca-Cola Germany, puts it:

In the past, big companies outcompeted smaller companies. But that’s history. Today, the fast companies outcompete the slow companies.” 

When you rely on traditional spreadsheets and paper processes, recording, sharing, analysing and collaborating on information can all swallow up a huge amount of time – crushing employee productivity, damaging customer experience, and generally limiting your organisation’s ability to act fast.

But such processes bring another danger. When smart, self-starting staff don’t have the tools they need, or can’t get them fast enough, they’ll often solve the problem themselves – buying cloud software and services without the knowledge of the IT organisation.

While empowering staff to source or build the tools they need is a great idea, you need to be confident in the security and compliance of the resources they’re turning to.

Research by Cisco shows that such ‘shadow IT’ deployments are a huge issue:

  • 51 – the average number of cloud services CIOs think are running within their organisation
  • 730 – the average number of cloud services that are actually running within their organisation 

Why a great app development platform is the answer

Apps can connect everyone in your organisation – and your customers – with the latest information, wherever they are.

Ideally, organisations need a single platform that helps their in-house developers create complex apps from scratch, but also makes it easy and secure for marketing, sales and everyone else to create apps too – automating their own processes with simple ‘no-code’ and ‘low-code’ app development tools.

Salesforce App Cloud, our app development platform, has all major certifications for application, network and facility security, and it empowers every employee to replace manual processes with apps that are:

  • Social and highly customisable
  • Mobile and available on any device
  • Connected to your back office

Here’s what that can mean in practice.

Using apps to automate business processes at SNCF

France's national railway company serves millions of passengers every day. And it understands that, if they’re all to have a smooth, great experience, its business processes need to fly along as fast as its trains.

The team at SNCF have discovered new ways to accelerate processes and improve journeys with some smart apps

One gets customers actively involved in maintenance efforts, speeding the upkeep of SNCF’s stations. As Rachel Picard, Directrice Générale Voyages, explains:

We put in place QR codes that travellers can scan when an escalator is not working. We have built an entire process now so that within 30 minutes a technician comes and repairs the faulty escalator.”

Another app has transformed the handling of lost baggage. Customers and service agents can report lost or found items online. This information is stored in a constantly updated database, that’s accessible by agents everywhere. 

The result? Customers get reunited with their belongings faster. This project even spawned another application that lets passenger generate and print unique e-tags to further enhance luggage identification.

As Olivier Beaurepaire, CIO, SNCF Gares & Connexions, puts it:

Thanks to the agility, fast deployment times and scalability of Salesforce products, we have embraced a new way to develop enterprise apps, and with Salesforce, we are able to go beyond a simple digital transformation of the company.”

Using apps to automate business processes at Coca-Cola Germany

Another great example is Coca-Cola Germany, which is using custom apps to power various parts of its business.

As Thorsten Kohler, CEO of Salesforce implementation partner Your SL, explains: “It’s like a big toolbox. Out of that toolbox you can quickly build new applications for any department in your company.”

In the case of Coca-Cola Germany, the connectivity apps offer is crucial – enabling everyone to act as one big team whether they’re part of sales or operations. As Nehammer explains:

With App Cloud, we all see everything at the same time […] If there’s a delivery that’s gone wrong, immediately the customer sees it, the sales rep will see it, distribution will see it, and I see it.

Surveying the presentation of Coca-Cola at the point of sale is an important task for the organisation’s field reps. It used to take a day to process this information – but with connected apps, it can be acted on immediately.

The mobility that these apps bring is another key benefit – letting Nehammer make decisions in the right place at the right time, and empowering field reps to deliver better service to retailers.

Empower your people and accelerate your business

Manual and paper processes simply don’t cut it today, when your business needs to move fast at all times – you know it and your staff know it.

Give everyone secure tools to build social, connected, mobile apps, and you stand to unite your business like never before – boosting productivity, and gaining the real-time insights needed to operate in smarter, faster ways.

To get you started, join our 5 part webinar series How to Build an App on the Salesforce App Cloud. We’ll take you through the 5 steps involved in building a modern app and show you how companies are automating business processes and moving at incredible speed.