|Kolofix. A data-based story
|Kolofix. A data-based story
|<p>Cycling has always been popular in the Czech Republic. Over one in three Czechs enjoy the sport, and that number is only growing. Despite this popularity, however, most people only think about bicycle maintenance when winter is over and it’s time to pull the bikes out again. Suddenly bike repair shops are flooded with customers and booked solid for two months, which can sound like an eternity when the sun is shining right now.<br></p><p>But what if someone offered short wait times and a technician who comes to you? That is exactly what Kolofix does. This successful Czech bike repair chain proves how technology and digitization can bring benefits in perhaps unexpected areas. The digitized Kolofix reservation system was created by a development team from Cleverlance. Customers go to the Kolofix website or app and choose the service they need and the branch they prefer. They can either take the bicycle in themselves, have a Kolofix employee come pick it up, or request a technician to come and do the repair offsite. Kolofix’s mobile repair shop can go to customers anywhere.<br></p><p>The reservation system gives customers a set time, date and price according to the service price list. The system instantly connects customers with a technician and checks for spare part availability, which significantly cuts down wait times and ensures that customers pay the same price for the same service each time.<br></p><p>The reservation app is highly effective and successful in its field. Even the global pandemic has not slowed the extraordinary interest in this fusion of the digital and sports world, and the company is currently planning to expand to Slovakia. Those plans have been put on hold for the moment, however, due to the shortage in bicycle parts currently affecting the entire cycling world.<br></p><br><br>
|How can VR training work in a bank?
|How can VR training work in a bank?
|<p>Virtual reality is predominantly associated with the gaming industry, but nowadays interesting VR projects can be found even in the business segment. Following this trend can be worthwhile for several reasons. In addition to the substantial marketing potential, innovations in this area might save money, make processes more efficient and add a whole new dimension to how tasks, projects and the company as such is perceived.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;"></span></p><div><p>We experienced this first hand in Česká spořitelna, a bank from the Erste Group – after a virtual branch, their “tribe Assisted channels” decided to use this 3D model in action and asked us at Cleverlance to help create training for operating the cash registers in VR. This is a historically first virtual reality training in the Česká spořitelna.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/VR_CS.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />What are the advantages of this new method? The training combines gaming elements (just like Johann Amos Comenius used to say: Learning through play) and the immersion principle, when the students can fully immerse into the subject, it feels like they are trying it out themselves, even though it’s just in virtual reality. Trainers at Česká spořitelna chose this new training format for sections of the course that are historically the most challenging for the students, are hard to explain on a piece of paper, and where passive observing (e.g., on a video) is not enough to automate the process. This part is very important, though. Operating the cash register in a bank is subject to strict ČNB regulations, which is why individual training modules also have higher requirements. Students can for example practice deposits, withdrawals, checking notes, closing or balancing the cash register. The fact that the training takes place in an environment that is identical to the actual environment of Česká spořitelna helps to ingrain individual processes and reduces the error rate of cashiers in real work situations.</p><p>Česká spořitena uses the app within courses taught by a lecturer, when the students can experience most of the tasks first hand using VR and then repeat these processes until they become ingrained. This can also be done for less frequent scenarios using the “tutorial” module. The testing module then verifies how much the student has learned – the test meets the parameters required by the internal regulations of Česká spořitelna and ČNB. Another great benefit is the remote training function which is planned to be added in the future. Thanks to this, students won’t need to travel to the headquarters in Prague or Brno; all they will need is a pair of VR glasses with updated software. This saves not only money but also time. Lecturers become guides that help students understand the subject and provide a professional framework for the training, but they don’t need to be present during each routine trial, which bring additional significant savings.<br></p><p>The first training sessions took place in June 2020. The interest among ČSAS employee was enormous and the training sessions were booked out almost immediately. And the program is still continuously being developed.<br></p></div>
|We can handle a Mongolian James Bond
|We can handle a Mongolian James Bond
|<p>Foxconn is a huge international company with roots in Taiwan and branches all over the world. It has millions of employees and is represented in many countries. The Foxconn branch in the Czech Republic employs about 500 people. It is to this particular branch that we supplied our application for coordinating employees working on orders. For many years, Czech Foxconn managed to dynamically react to clients’ order focusing on the creation of complete IT solutions, as well as production of individual parts for different equipment. Day-to-day coordination of people and production lines and their adjustments for the currently manufactured parts and specific technological parameters represent not only a logistics challenge, but also a potential source of stress. However, Foxconn does its best to care for its employees, which is why it decided to create a mobile application with an easy-to-navigate and efficient overview of shifts. It was discovered that almost all employees of Foxconn in Pardubice use Android phones, so the choice of this platform was an easy one.<br></p><h2>Let’s get started</h2><p>All that was needed was to specify the instructions, tweak the priorities and expectations from the project, propose a concrete solution, and create wireframes and graphics of the whole application. Developing on such a foundation is a piece of cake. We have to highlight the professional approach of Foxconn towards the whole project. While Cleverlance was developing a mobile app, Foxconn took care of the server part of the project. It was a prime example of what cooperation between two companies during agile development should look like.<br></p><p>So what can the new app do? It provides coordination of people on specific workspaces for each shift, recording absences and days off, an easy-to-navigate calendar of shift, as well as automatic notifications.</p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/foxconn.png" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />Surprisingly the biggest challenge was not of technical nature, but linguistic: in Foxconn in Pardubice you will hear a lot of foreign languages. The company cooperates with the Center for Integration of Foreigners for the Pardubice region and organizes multicultural weeks as well as celebrations of the Lunar New Year for employees from Asian regions. This meant that coordinating with employees was not only a logistic but also a linguistic challenge. In addition to the usual Czech and English languages, we needed to add Mongolian and let’s face it, there aren’t that many people fluent in Mongolian here. The translator not only had to find the corresponding Mongolian expressions but also a way to fit the translations into the application design – and apparently, they did a great job.<br></p><h2>Spies and us</h2><p>The world of large businesses is associated with large risks that you need to protect yourself against. Foxconn is an ever-growing company and if they want to keep this trend going, they need to actively protect themselves against industrial espionage. It might seem funny to some, imagining a secret agent whose mission is to find out when Mrs Johnson has to get up for work on Wednesday. However, the leaking of know-how and other sensitive company data represents a real threat. This is why the internal applications for coordination of shifts had to have good security to ensure only persons registered at Foxconn CZ can access them.<br></p><p>Developing this app for Foxconn made us think about efficient planning and about spies, for example from Mongolia. However, judging from the client’s satisfaction, we can say we did a good job.<br></p><p>Furthermore, the cooperation with Foxconn was pleasant for everyone involved. We enjoyed a privilege that we don’t get with most projects: knowing the approximate number of users and being able to test the app with them directly. Such user testing is not possible in some situations, namely for bank applications where the number of users can be hundreds of thousands or even millions. Here we could gradually work on the app to tailor it to the needs of the employees and provide them with a truly customized internal system.<br></p>
|A Škoda can be purchased in just a single click
|A Škoda can be purchased in just a single click
|<p>Just a few weeks ago Škoda Auto became a pioneer in the online sale of cars. The first European e-shop in which you can really buy a car online was created by Škoda Auto in cooperation with Cleverlance. This was definitely not an easy job – even just the integration into other systems was quite a challenge.<span style="color:#696158;font-size:14px;"></span></p><div><p>If you were ever involved in a project of this magnitude, then you know that not everything always goes according to plan. Being able to order a new Škoda car with just a click of your mouse is undoubtedly a great success of the joint effort of the developers and is a break-through moment on the European car market. While this is something many car manufacturers can only dream about, Škoda Auto managed to make this dream come true.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/skodaonline_uvod.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />The <a href="https://www.skoda-online.cz/">Škoda Online</a> platform has access to stocks, meaning that the configuration that the customer chooses, i.e., the type, color and equipment, will be in the actual car that they are going to pick up – perhaps as early as in two weeks. The cars are provided via operating lease, i.e., they are not sold but in fact leased in this globally popular way. The purchase of a car as we know it from car dealerships will be the next development step of online sale. Since the system's launch in December, it became clear that the online shop customers are in average 15 years younger than traditional clients of Škoda. Younger customers do a lot of things differently and they want to do everything online, including buying a car.<br></p><p>The offered vehicles need to be reserved while the order is being created, reservations made by clients who are not interested in finalizing the purchase, however, must not block all the stock reserves. Personal delivery of the vehicle to the client’s home is also available, including the option to choose the date of pick-up or delivery.<br></p><p>One of the obstacles that needed to be overcome was integration into the system of orders and vehicle stocks. All strict requirements of Škoda Auto on security, performance and infrastructure, which are significantly above the usual standards, have been met. With regards to these requirements of Škoda Auto it was necessary to make changes to the payment gate, and before the online sale launched it was also necessary to make technical and procedural adjustments on both sides of the interface. The integration into all systems of the huge concern then went surprisingly smoothly.<br></p><p>Not only the technical aspects of the e-shop as such but also the shift in the sales philosophy are quite ground-breaking. Younger people are now able to buy a car in a familiar environment that they trust. Škoda is not afraid of innovations and even leads the way for others to follow, making the internet a full-fledged sales channel for their products. Let go of your reservations and doubts, the dream of a whole generation of developers and dealers have finally come true and now you can truly say that you can buy everything online, from socks to a car.<br></p><p>With one click of your mouse you can read an interesting article, confirm a friendship request or buy a car. This sounds revolutionary and if you didn’t know how many thousands of work-hours digital specialists spent on the project, at first glance Škoda Online looks like just another modern website, easy to navigate and use. The e-shop itself, however, is far from trivial and offers an actual tool to select the parameters of your real car, which you can then order and buy. A new standard has been set and it will take the competitors a substantial amount of time to catch up.<br></p><p>Of course the buyers can’t see all the sweat and tears the developers put into the final product. For them, the system is just a tool that makes it easyer to buy a new car. You don’t have to haggle with the dealer, you can take advantage of the access to the stock and pre-configured variants. The system only offers actually available cars that can be picked up or delivered to your home, often already in only 14 days.<br></p><p>The specifications for Cleverlance, who implemented the system, have been fine-tuned to the very last moment and in the first third of the project implementation, the technology and required architecture changed completely. Despite these obstacles, our team, which implemented the half-finished concept from Brno to České Budějovice and back, managed to complete the project in a record-breaking three and half months. No, that's not a typo. It really just took a few months, not years.<br></p><p>I’m not going to bore you with technical details of this ground-breaking project as not everyone is tech-savvy enough to understand all the nuances of the implemented system. It’s not important, anyway. What’s important is that the customers can quickly and intuitively learn how to use the web and can rest assured that they are linked to the stocks and show what actually is available for Škoda to complete the order, i.e., the customer’s car. The best kind of innovation is when the customers can directly see the final result.<br></p></div>
|Success doesn’t end with a Happy End
|Success doesn’t end with a Happy End
|<p>There aren’t many companies that can honestly say that saving human lives lies at the core of their business. One of those entitled to describe themselves this way is Happy End, a leading Czech supplier of tools for handling liquid leaks, occupational health and safety and fire protection. Thanks to their products it is possible to resolve dangerous situations before they turn into catastrophes. And Happy End is indeed great at preventing small and big catastrophes. What started as a small company turned into a local leader which now supplies its products abroad. The growth of a company is a joyous process, and yet it is one of the most demanding ones in terms of organization. This is where Cleverlance stepped in to help the people on the front lines of this success manage their time and the necessary administration.<br></p><h2>A business representative and a magic mirror</h2><p>Happy endings can be found mostly in fairy tales. Just like adults often stop appreciating a well-told fairy tale, I think people in today’s modern world often fail to appreciate the magic of smart IT gadgets. To be able to go to a different city, pull out a magic mirror (such as a tablet) and immediately obtain all required information for the planned work tasks is, at least for me, nothing short of magical.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/happy_end2.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />We created a similar, seemingly magical application for internal use by Happy End employees, specifically for their dealers. As the company grew, the number of clients and volume of orders also increased. It is up to these dealers to create and maintain good business relationships with these clients, to know all the specifics of the company's offered services and products, and to be able to create an order that best meets the client’s needs. Our application, running on a magical tablet mirror with iOS, can help them with all of these responsibilities. Most importantly by providing a single place for the dealer to find all the necessary information and process all required documentation. For example, our internal Happy End application can:<br></p><p><strong>Provide dealers with information about the existing clients:</strong> All important data about the customer, such as address, contact person, turnover, product portfolio, development, payment history, last meetings, complaints, phone calls - all readily available.<br></p><p><strong>Inform about opportunities:</strong> It is easy to divide individual clients based on importance, location, etc. When planning a meeting, the app informs the business representative about which companies are located near the agreed meeting place.<br></p><p><strong>Save time and organize:</strong> An easy-to-navigate calendar provides information about new events and notifies users about planned meetings.<br></p><p><strong>Speed up the documentation process:</strong> Minutes from meetings, price offers or email are readily available and easy to find.<br></p><p><strong>Easier access to information about products and stock reserves: </strong>The dealers can have all the information about offered products and their availability in stock always with them, wherever they go.<br></p><h2>Smooth sailing without waterfalls</h2><p>The work on the application for Happy End dealers was (and still is) accompanied by mutual trust, which can be seen in the quality of the final solution. A classic development model (the so-called “waterfall”) handles individual phases, i.e., analysis, design, programming and testing as separate units. Such division of work can work but when it becomes necessary to make changes, it can slow you down and make the whole development process much more expensive. Agile development, on the other hand, treats all phases as concurrent, continual activities. Good feedback is absolutely crucial to make agile software development work. Whereas for different solutions it is possible to perform user testing as the last, final step to conclude the development, with Happy End we could use the information from users to improve the functions of the application. The team of dealers in one company is a relatively small set of people who know what they need from an tablet app to speed up their work and make it more efficient. Thanks to the agile approach and good feedback, we were able to tailor the app to the needs of the client.<br></p><p><img src="/de/blog/PublishingImages/Articles/CreateIt/happy_end3.jpg" data-themekey="#" alt="" style="margin:5px 0px;" />The implementation of our solution into practice is going great and we are happy to be able to help both Happy End and its customers. Our work together throughout the whole process, starting from the order, through development up to delivery and support, was very positive. Almost like a fairy tale.</p>