Low-code/no-code software development for Good

Title: {Low-code/no-code software development for Good}

Duration: {19:20} minutes

Description:

{Experts from Shell and Microsoft discuss the impact of Low-code/no-code software development on the digitalisation of enterprises and societies}

{How often do you think: “There must be an easier way to do this! If only I had an app for that!”? Did you know that you can develop your own software without knowing how to code? Low-code/no-code software development is a growing trend in the digitalisation of enterprises, and it can also be an important tool to democratise digital skills across societies.

In this AI for Good Perspectives interview, experts from Shell and Microsoft are reflecting on the potential of low-code/no-code software development in progressing the United Nation’s SDGs. Learn from real-life examples and applications that are making a positive difference today for enterprises and for society.}

{Low-code/no-code software development for Good} Transcript

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{AI for Good Perspectives. Expert insights. Global visions. Shared Solutions}

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{Charlotte Kan, Journalist}

{Charlotte Kan}

{Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Wherever you are welcome to AI For Good, all year, always online. I'm Charlotte Kan presenting AI For Good Perspectives. AI For Good is a year-round digital platform where AI innovators and problem owners learn, build and connect to identify practical AI solutions to advance the UN SDGs AI For Good Perspectives offer expert insights, global visions and shared solutions from the A.I. for good community.

Now, how often do you think there must be an easier way to do this? If only I had an app for that. Now, did you know that you can develop your own software without knowing how to code? Low-code/no-code software development is a growing trend in the digitalization of enterprises. It can also be an important tool to democratize digital tools in societies.

So let's listen to Shell and Microsoft as they reflect on the potential of low-code/no-code software development in progressing the UN SDGs.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{I am very pleased to be joined today by Ryan Cunningham, Vice President of Microsoft Power Apps, and Paul Kobylanski, General Manager, low-code/no-code Software Development and Power Platforms at Shell as well as Michel Snijders, Environmental Co-ordinator at Shell Energy and Chemicals Park in Rotterdam.

Thank you very much for joining us.}

{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Good to be with you.}

{Ryan Cunningham, Vice President, Power Apps, Microsoft}

{Thank you for having us}

{Charlotte Kan}

{Lovely to have you on board now. Let's start with Ryan. First of all, Ryan can you introduce yourself and tell us in very simple words, what's low-code/no-code software development is all about?}

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{Ryan Cunningham, Vice President, Power Apps, Microsoft}

{Absolutely. So my name is Ryan. I lead the low-code/no-code offering team at Microsoft. That's called PowerApps. And Charlotte, I thought you actually captured it quite well in your introduction. Low-code/no-code is probably the least creatively named software category on the planet today. It's really about reducing or entirely eliminate the need for traditional software code when building solutions, including innovative solutions that use AI and other advanced capabilities today.

It's really about democratizing and extending who can solve problems and how quickly they can be solved. Really important for areas that need rapid new thinking and rapid innovation from a range of experts, like many of the ones that we'll talk about today.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Absolutely. Thank you very much, Ryan. Let's join Paul now. Paul, could you introduce yourself as well and maybe say a few words about low-code/no-code software development at Shell?}

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{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Sure. So, Paul Kobylanski and as you said, I head up Citizen Development or low-code/no-code development at Shell. We also referred to it as DIY. Or do-it-yourself development. So essentially at Shell we run a centre of expertise that aims to provide all of the developers across the company with the training, the tools, the support and also the confidence to solve the problems closest to themselves.

A real core, an integral part of that is also providing secure access to data because without data you cannot do DIY. That's a little bit about me.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Thank you very much. And I'll talk to Michel now. And Michel, tell us about who you are, what you do and your low-code/no-code approach.}

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{Michel Snijders, Environmental Coordinator, Shell}

{Yes. Hi, I'm Michel Snijders and an environmental co-ordinator at Shell Energy and Chemical Park, Rotterdam. With my team we, amongst others, are looking after our water treatment procedures. We advise teams in our refinery on what must be done to comply with environmental regulations when releasing water back into the environment. An essential step is to gather information on oncoming water discharges. It means we look at water that will be sent to the unit through the water treatment facilities. That's me in a nutshell.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Thank you very much. So we'll take a look at the application you have developed a little bit later. But for the moment, I'd like to go back to Ryan to ask you, Ryan, how is Citizen Development transforming the access to digital tools and skills?}

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{Ryan Cunningham, Vice President, Power Apps, Microsoft}

{Well, Charlotte one of the things about software is that we tend to focus only on one type of expertise. When we think about developers and engineers, we focus on technical expertise. But like we just heard from Michel, there's a whole other type of important expertise in every single business problem and every single situation.

And nobody on the planet is more qualified to think about something like water quality and water handling at Shell than Michelle and his team. And so Citizen Development really shortens the distance between those two types of expertise. And what does it take to build a great solution and what does it take to actually get it out there in the world?

That's really how it's transforming the way organizations work. It compresses the development cycle, but it also brings other types of expertise to the table to be hands-on in building those solutions. That's what creates the real transformative engine for organizations like Shell.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Thank you. I'd like to ask a similar question to you to Paul. Paul, how is Citizen Development transforming the digital literacy at Shell.}

{Visual transition: Paul Kobylanski visible on screen}

{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Well firstly, DIY is a critical part of our overall digital transformation strategy and what it's doing is really enabling us to do more, to take on more digital work by addressing the tail end of opportunities that we have at pace like Ryan shared and in a secure way, whether that be around visualizing data, whether it be around taking out paper, automating a process.

If you look at it though, however, this is really about availability. So making these technologies and platforms available to everybody within Shell but also accessibility. So if we think about the tools and technologies, the intelligence or the code is under the hood and what it provides is an environment which is much more intuitive, an interface that is focused on drag-and-drop or low-code that enables ease of use.

It's also, I would say, a great medium for experimentation and learning and doing things collaboratively. And if I can just give you an example, we were just a couple of weeks ago with one of our businesses in Norway, also with a team of students from the local university. And in two days we developed full working applications or products using business data.

Now if I was to go back maybe ten years and we did a two day workshop, we may come out with lots of paper and maybe just five years ago we may come out with wireframe. So I think it's incredible that that pace, that accessibility and the intuition now today makes it go much faster.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Thank you. I'd like to go back to Ryan. Ryan, are there any industries or businesses that are particularly advanced in adopting Citizen Development? Could you share maybe some examples with us?}

{Visual transition: Ryan Cunningham visible on screen}

{Ryan Cunningham, Vice President, Power Apps, Microsoft}

{Absolutely. Surely. We're seeing acceleration in low code, particularly on the Microsoft platform across really every sector of the economy. Now, more than 97% of the Fortune 500 are using our platform, and we're growing exponentially. But we're seeing particular energy in industries that have very particular types of needs, and the energy industry is absolutely one of them.

We're also seeing in sectors and in government applications and finance in a whole range of sort of frontline worker-intensive industries, whether that's telecom or manufacturing. All of these are places where there really is no app for that in many, many parts of the organization because their processes are highly specialized and changing and evolving in real time.

And when you mix that need with a workforce that is highly skilled in the case of Shell, lots of smart people with either engineering degrees or process expertise or other forms of input, they just didn't study computer science. You bring those two worlds together, you see really great acceleration. And so some of the types of things we've talked about here with Shell are very exciting.}

But we've also seen customers really do transformative things at even national government scale in response to public health crises of the last few years and response to changing financial and regulatory regimes. And in response to the changing nature of a lot of equipment and material-intensive businesses, of which Shell is definitely ahead of the curve in driving a lot of that innovation as well.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Now, Paul, let's look at Citizen Development a little bit further. In practice, your industry is an industry that pays a lot of attention to safety, for instance. So how do you make Citizen Development work safely or in order to promote safety in your industry?}

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{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Yeah, it's a great point, Charlotte. And indeed, safety is paramount to us. I could probably draw this along the axis of people, process and technology. So first and foremost, if we talk about some of the processes, what we've put in place is sound governance and an operating model so that every developer has a secure environment within which to operate.

But also where their solutions or developments are assessed alongside risk and complexity. And so we have a particular zoning strategy where people can develop freely within a green zone. We also offer up a partnered zone which puts extra eyes and controls on that development. And we clearly have those sorts of solutions that are high risk, high complexity that are done by your traditional IT department.

When we look at people and we take the people angle, this is about providing the training, providing the support through boot camps and hackathons, but also ensuring that we've got a community-based model and approach in place. So our coaches for every community are paramount, are important in the way in which they are guardians of the process, in which they offer up consultants to advise and make sure that things are done safely as well.

And I think what's happening is within industry we're seeing a lot of distilling of professional development practice actually lend itself into this Citizen Development or low-code environment. And I think finally working with partners such as Ryan, we look at the technology. So providing these purpose-built environments that are made for this type of work, but also provide the AI under the hood and the analytics to make sure that we're doing things safely and intelligently as we go.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Absolutely. And could you share maybe some examples of low-code/no-code apps at Shell, which are having a positive impact on your employees, your operations and your customers?}

{Visual transition: Paul Kobylanski visible on screen}

{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Well, we'll love to. This is a joy of my role because we have solutions that continue to come out each week. But let me take three tangible examples. So I think first and foremost, we talked about safety and wellbeing, and Prelude is one of our floating LNG facilities off the coast of Australia where we have to also comply with maritime and international standards.

We have to record people's work patterns both in terms of rest and activity on that particular asset. And much of that was paper based. And so the team that took it in their own hands to develop an application called the Fatigue Management Application, and they've really taken that one step further. It's improved health, it improves our overall understanding of planning for the facility and forecasting in terms of resourcing needs.

So that's one in terms of safety and wellbeing. Another one would be around energy. So we're talking about AI For Good. And if we look at energy optimization, we have a wonderful team at the same product and Chemicals Park in the Netherlands who use a low-code/no-code platform to collect additional data points around the setting and the performance of furnaces that are used to power that plant.

They've augmented those processes, they captured that data, they've used those insights to learn to improve the overall energy efficiency of that plant, which is also good for the planet. And finally, if we talk about customer, so we have a number of emerging sectors where our sales executives are asked and confronted with questions around the product's carbon footprint.

And so in this case, these requests could come in through maybe conversations or email or other channels, and the team had taken it upon themselves again, to use the low-code/no-code environments that we have to digitize that process to make sure that we're providing accurate information back to our customers, but also improving the responsiveness as well.

So I think these are three examples where you can see that teams are solving problems for themselves, but also doing that with agility and at pace.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{And I think that's the perfect introduction for Michel to tell us a bit more about the very wide scope of use cases. Now, Michel, tell us about the apps you have developed.}

{Visual transition: Michel Snijders visible on screen}

{Michel Snijders, Environmental Coordinator, Shell}

{In order to comply with the legislation and Shell's own strict procedures, we have multiple teams seeking information about and providing data. These processes represent tons of pages of text, and you can imagine that there is a strong drive to streamline these processes. In the past, getting this information would be typically done by a complex form on a spreadsheet and shared by email. Using low-code/no-code tools it centralises and automates the information and management process in order to better handle these complex procedures as one team.}

{Charlotte Kan}

{And can you explain very briefly and in very simple terms how the app will work please?}

{Visual transition: Michel Snijders visible on screen}

{Michel Snijders, Environmental Coordinator, Shell}

{Our app is simply an end-user interface which provides a form to fill in and all the information which is required by different departments and involved in the discharge process. The database behind the forms integrated in our current office environment for the refinery.}

{Charlotte Kan}

{Okay, so a much easier process for the end users, but what a positive impact do you think this app can also have for the community around the refinery?}

{Visual transition: Michel Snijders visible on screen}

{Michel Snijders, Environmental Coordinator, Shell}

{Well, I see three benefits. One, with better data on what is coming up to our water treatment facility we can better clean the water before it's released into the environment. And also, we are more efficient to spot and address unusual requests. We can better involve the right experts in a case-by-case basis and eventually we have more and better data which makes our auditing and external controls easier.

We believe that it gives the regulators a better knowledge of our operations, and then to finish, we're proud of this simple, centralized, automated information-sharing tool, because it has indeed many benefits for our operations and our communities. But also, I learned that Citizen Development is not about doing it alone but doing it together and that's all about working in teams.

So it is fine to have this around and have a better knowledge of each other's work processes and solve the problems around it.}

{Visual transition: Charlotte Kan visible on screen}

{Charlotte Kan}

{Fantastic. So many benefits for the local communities as well as the enterprise, the business overall. Thank you very much. Closing remarks, I guess, and final thoughts, Ryan, after hearing Michel's testimony and the impact of his app on the community, how do you feel and what are your impressions?}

{Visual transition: Ryan Cunningham visible on screen}

{Ryan Cunningham, Vice President, Power Apps, Microsoft}

{Well, I love the example because it's really a great encapsulation of how low-code is working on multiple levels. One, most importantly if we are going to evolve our processes and push towards a cleaner future, we really have to get better data at the very end of the process. And today that's very inefficient for a lot of processes and not out of any desire to be inefficient, but just out of the way a lot of these systems were built initially, and being able to move from a scattered set of emails and spreadsheets into a robust piece of software is a major step forward for not just for the individual who was working that process, but really all the broader benefits that we can we can create from it that Michel just outlined.

But the "how" it came together is critical too that piece of software didn't exist before because the business case and the sort of practicalities of traditional software development just didn't make it possible. But being able to work together, I love that phrase from Michel and being able to come together between people who understand the process and people who understand software.

That's what's really driving the innovation in this space is that way of working together. So I'm super excited and enthusiastic to hear this example, and I know there are hundreds more like it just within this organization, let alone many others like it around the world.}

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{Charlotte Kan}

{Thank you. Any final thoughts from Paul and Michel? I mean, I must admit I was really pleased to hear that Michel, who does not necessarily have the technical skills that were traditionally involved in the development of an app was able to develop one with such an impact.}

{Visual transition: Paul Kobylanski visible on screen}

{Paul Kobylanski, General Manager low-code/no-code software development, Shell}

{Yeah, I think in Shell today we have many wonderful cases like Michel where people have started out on their journeys. We've talked about process and really empowering them through these new platforms and what we're seeing overall is increased productivity, we're seeing increased agility and for sure we've got many more bright stories on the horizon as well.}

{Visual transition: Charlotte Kan visible on screen}

{Charlotte Kan}

{Fantastic. Well, thank you very much to all of you for your accounts and your thoughts today. That's much appreciated. Thank you very much. And thanks to you for watching. Stay tuned for more stories from AI For Good Perspectives, all year, always online.}

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