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NO-CODE: MAKING BLOCKCHAIN IMPLEMENTATION EASY

An interview with Chris Obdam, CEO Betty Blocks.

When Blockchain first appeared on the tech radar, it was heavily associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. We know now that this was just the tip of the iceberg for the new technology. Since Blockchain’s inception, the brightest and most disruptive minds from around the world have started to unlock its potential as a groundbreaking security solution. Not just for online currencies, but any data transmission and validation imaginable.

More than 10 years later, Blockchain is still something of a mystery to most non-IT professionals. So what exactly is the value of Blockchain for businesses? And what technologies are available to help companies adopt this groundbreaking, disruptive security solution?

To answer these questions, we caught up with CEO and co-founder of Betty Blocks, Chris Obdam. He explained Blockchain and how no-code application development platforms can help businesses implement it easily, without the expense of employing specialised software developers.

Chris Obdam

1. What is the value of Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger system which has a clear and simple benefit. It allows people to work together, share information, create contracts, and make transactions securely. Everything created (such as transaction data) is done outside of privatized, central systems and stored in a distributed system, the Blockchain. Unlike most technologies, Blockchain requires multiple parties’ permission to create, edit or move information.

For people like you and me (or even businesses), information is a private and valuable asset. Knowing data is secure gives real peace-of-mind to individuals and is an essential factor for businesses to work together. Blockchain technology and the security it offers and can be an essential factor in winning collaboration.

As a side note: Until Blockchain technology became available, the market for centralised contract systems was owned by just a few players – a near monopoly. Blockchain technology disrupts that entirely. Taking advantage of it enables businesses to bypass the restrictive practices (and sometimes high prices) of powerful market players.

2. What are some of the challenges of incorporating Blockchain?

The real challenge right now is that people don’t fully understand what Blockchain is and how to apply it. People seem to have this idea that Blockchain is a complex series of algorithms and technology barriers which make it difficult to connect with existing processes. But it is in fact simply a new and better tool in your development team’s toolbox. Companies that fail to consider it are simply hanging on to the old way of doing things and risk falling behind the competition. Implementing Blockchain is where a no-code platform can come into play to simplify and speed the process.

3. What are no-code development platforms and how can they help?

No-code platforms enable anyone to contribute to software development without writing a single line of code. Instead of hand-coding, non-IT professionals create applications using a visual interface and pre-fabricated code segments (or modules). Ultimately, the goal of no-code is to remove the technology barrier of programming languages and allow anyone to contribute to innovation efforts.

When it comes to Blockchain, people need to understand that creating the software is the smallest piece of the project. Technical setup only has to be done once. Your user interface, back-end, and logical flows are the more time-consuming aspects.

The advantage of using a no-code platform is that the ‘technical’ setup will already be available to your developers. Meaning your focus can be entirely on delivering the best possible result for your end-users.

4. How can the banking industry benefit from no-code platforms?

We all know that the traditional banking sector is under constant pressure from new digital players. Both private and business customers expect better services on all fronts, including via digital platforms and they absolutely expect total security. Fail to meet these ever increasing expectations and your customers can easily switch to another provider.

Given their huge demand for new digital processes, Banks have had to radically change their approach to software development. They have had to become highly innovative and fast to market with new digital services. So when it comes to software, many have turned parts of their development strategy over to rapid innovation teams who build applications using no-code platforms instead of via traditional coding. Firms that are able to design, test and launch new services in weeks instead of the many months it took just a few years ago; are gaining customers from their slower rivals.

5. When can we expect the first no-code built applications to incorporate Blockchain?

Blockchain technology already exists in no-code platforms today. It’s a pre-built ‘drag and drop’ feature which a developer can add to an application’s workflow. So it isn’t exactly a matter of when, but where Blockchain will be used within a no-code application on a large scale. You could start building an application that incorporates Blockchain today.

Blockchain is here to stay and it’s important to get your head around it. You can easily incorporate it into your new applications if you take a no-code development approach. If you need any help, do reach out to us at Betty Blocks.

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Interviews

DIFFERENTIATION – THE KEY TO THRIVING IN A SATURATED MARKET

Graham Glass, CEO of Cypher Learning

 

What has enabled Cypher to continue to grow in an increasingly saturated market?

Recognising opportunities for growth around the world is actually one of the things that has helped us grow. We realized that there were so many opportunities outside of the U.S or Western Europe and actually, a lot of our revenue comes from outside of these regions. For example, with our education based LMS, NEO, we have schools and institutions in the Philippines, Latin America, Norway, Australia, and more. The way we have created the product allows the flexibility for it to be tailored to each educational institution’s exact needs and because of this process, we can provide different languages, different elements of learning and really help the teachers in each country make the most out of the system.

 

You have recently expanded into four more locations: Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Russia. What was the reasoning behind deciding on these locations?

The growing popularity of our learning platforms has made it possible for the company to expand quickly and cover more of the market around the world. The selection of the new sales offices came as a natural move, as we started to get more and more customers in those locations, and we wanted to seize the opportunity to expand even more. We also wanted to provide local support to our customers, which is an important aspect in our strategy. Since we already had an office in The Philippines, opening new locations in Indonesia and Malaysia was essential. In the case of Australia, since we launched the APAC version of our platforms, with servers hosted in Sydney, it was also vital to have a sales office as well.

 

What is different about your products compared to your competitors?

CYPHER LEARNING is currently the only company on the market that provides a learning platform for each e-learning segment: academic, corporate, and entrepreneurs. Our products are built on the same core platform. They share some functionalities and the overall design of the platform, but they’re targeted towards different markets. NEO is an LMS for schools and universities, MATRIX is an LMS for businesses, and INDIE is an LMS for entrepreneurs. For each of our products, we have created special functionalities that address the needs of each market.

Our platforms are very intuitive, easy to use, and visually appealing, which makes the whole experience more engaging and enjoyable for all users. The navigation is simple, and you can customize the platforms to match your brand and fit your needs.

Our platforms are built to ensure a smooth implementation and they’re easily adopted by students, teachers, trainers, and entrepreneurs. We offer support for 40+ languages, mobile apps for all devices, and accessibility features so all users can enjoy the platform.

CYPHER LEARNING products provide complete solutions with powerful features for managing all teaching and learning activities for schools, organizations, and entrepreneurs.

We’re also focused on bringing innovation through our platforms, by creating cutting-edge features that other systems do not support such as automation, adaptive learning, and competency-based learning.

 

How do you see the e-learning market changing and developing in the future?

I’m very excited about the future of the e-learning market. Machine learning and artificial intelligence hold great potential in terms of making learning truly personalized. We’re already on that path, taking steps forward with automation, multi-layered neural networks, feedback algorithms, amongst many other developments. And things will advance on a massive scale, rather quickly. With AI in online education, we’re not talking about 20 years until it will become the norm. Some of these technologies are going to be available and mainstream in the next few years. Keeping up with these changes and making sure the incredible amounts of learner data will be used correctly will be challenging, but I have high hopes of what the future has in store for us.

 

What advice would you offer other individuals and businesses in the e-learning industry?

We’re all in this together so we need to stay true to ourselves. In order to provide the best tools, the best solutions and the most memorable experiences that support people of all ages to learn new things, we need to keep on learning ourselves. That’s the only way to continued growth, both personally and professionally.

 

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Interviews

IPO: WHY GO PUBLIC?

By Sandy Campart

 

The main objective of an IPO – Initial Public Offering – is to raise capital in order to allow a company to grow. However, during a global economic slowdown, investors are increasingly cautious. In times like these, how should you prepare to go to the market?

 

Reasons for an IPO

A company’s motivation for going public is often linked to the idea of “creating one’s own currency” in order to fund internal and external growth, to diversify future sources of finance and strengthen the financial structure of the company. Listing a company on the stock exchange results in tradability and liquidity, allowing previous shareholders to exit, realising a gain on their capital. It also creates a valuation for the company which will be useful for future succession plans. At a strategic level, an IPO can enable the company to clarify its strategy, refocus its activities, increase its visibility and credibility, and ultimately differentiate itself from competitors.

Nonetheless an IPO will significantly change the way a company operates. Corporate governance has to be overhauled, support functions professionalised and financial communication must be made transparent. All studies show that, when information is withheld, the negative impact on the share price is greater than if the bad news had been announced.

 

2019: a mixed bag

In 2019, newly listed companies have seen their share price grow by almost 13% on average. However, the figures vary greatly. Software and IT security companies have performed the best with an average of nearly 40%.

Nevertheless, the stock market performances of SmileDirect (dental aligners), Peloton (exercise bikes and fitness) and even Uber attest to the increased scepticism of investors for unrealistic or exaggerated levels of profitability. Uber’s price has been particularly disappointing since the latest results presented were well below the expectations of the investors. In the second quarter of 2019, the turnover was more than 5% lower than expected and the profit – or rather the deficit – per share was 53% greater than expected. Uber’s growth has been slower than that of rival app Lyft, and the restructuring costs associated with many departures, lay-offs and resignations do not seem to be controlled. Additionally, Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowski, told his employees that the teams were too large to be compatible with the pace of growth needed, while Uber’s CTO, Thuan Pham, believes it could take decades for Uber to achieve its “vision”, suggesting there could be a later than expected ability to turn a profit.

 

Towards a better year in 2020?

For a company wishing wanting to maximise its initial flotation price, there are two strategies to pursue: the first is to float when the company is performing exceptionally, the second is to wait until the stock market is in a more favourable position.

In the context of a global economic slowdown, investors have for several months been moving towards “safe haven” shares in order to protect their assets. This, combined with the chaotic path of some recently introduced companies and the abundance of private financing, makes it difficult to see an acceleration of operations in 2020.

Even though the flotation of Airbnb remains topical, Postmates (delivery service) and Endeavor (talent agency) have paused their entry to the stock market. It is possible they are prioritizing interest from venture capitalists and risk capitalists. Palantir (Big Data) and Stripe (internet payments) could also look for private funds instead.

 

The WeWork failure

WeWork is the most prominent example of our current inability to distinguish a unicorn from a chimera. Investors have to learn – or re-learn – how to resist those appealing equity fairy stories and to see beyond the innovative nature and rapid growth of a concept. Cash flow, debt level and governance remain key decision-making factors. In the WeWork prospectus, the word “technology” appears more than 120 times. The Coué method of repetition is here being used to suggest that traditional valuation models should not apply to this business. There is little doubt, however that WeWork is more of a property developer with an innovative business model than it is a technology company.

 

About Sandy Campart 

Sandy Campart is a lecturer and researcher. He is a member of the Centre of Research for Economics and Management (CREM), part of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). M. Campart is director of IUP Banque Finance Assurance de Caen – a finance school in Normandy – and author of “If we dared to invest in the stock market”.

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