AIGS, a rising star in the Progress Software development and distribution channel, has developed South Africa’s first Rollbase app, demonstrating how rapid this “rapid development environment” is, by creating start-to-finish functionality of a pilot app in a matter of hours.
The full version of the app went live on 1 November as youth development provider TalentUP’s first digital reporting platform for the youth programmes (learnerships and internships) that it manages for the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

‘Most South African app
Rick Parry, chairman and CEO of AIGS, says the speed and flexibility of Rollbase offers exciting possibilities for South Africa.
“It is not just a case of leveraging technology to work smarter and faster,” he says. “The app ties in with many of South Africa’s key themes of transformation, skills and youth development. And it was born in a rapid-results, can-do development environment, which is itself a key South African virtue. In many ways, this is the most South African app I’ve ever seen.”

Rapid development, rapid response
Parry, formerly the head of Progress Software’s distribution operation in South Africa, says the company acquired Rollbase three years ago to broaden its app/satellite application development capability.
This put Progress and its local reseller base in the running to provide learnership provider TalentUP with an IT platform that could easily and quickly report on the performance of multiple internships under its management.
Serena Padayachee, the founder-owner of TalentUP, says during the five years of its existence the company slowly became snowed under with the admin involved in compiling paper-based learner reports, a crucial tenet of managing such programmes. “We felt the need to digitise our processes and turned to AIGS.”

The app
TalentUP’s clients are required by legislation (employment equity (EE) and DTI Codes of Good conduct) to invest 4,5% of their turnover in youth development. This translates to sizeable programmes at large corporates, attracting hundreds of thousands in funding.
To overcome the workload of managing numerous youth programmes TalentUP and AIGS have designed and developed an app featuring a generic reporting template that allows youths to plot and track their development performance via their phone, tablet or PC. HR managers (and line managers) can now easily draw and print reports and analytics, rather than await the collation of numerous reports, providing an element of responsiveness and scale to TalentUP that it never enjoyed before.
Online or premise-based, the app can slot into existing learning and performance management systems and serves as a basis for reporting on skills development and the DTI’s broad-based black economic empowerment codes.
IDC will pilot the app in a programme kicking off in November and involving 19 interns based regionally.

Looking ahead
Padayachee says down the line the app will provide portal-based employment records of youths who’ve gone through TalentUP’s programmes.
In this Phase 2, the company will expose the CVs and employment histories of its extensive database of on-the-job qualified candidates, offering an online matching service for companies and candidates in a pure youth development context that is far more suited to their needs than generic recruitment portals.
As for AIGS, Parry says it will soon launch SA’s first Rollbase public-private cloud (hosted by Hetzner). South African developers will use it as a local Platform-as-a-Service development environment, offering local hosting and support, whereas before they’ve had to rely on US-based infrastructure and service level agreements. In addition, there’s the opportunity of annuity income to independent software developers.
End customers, in turn, will henceforth access Rollbase apps locally, with the same benefits.

Staying ahead
Parry says a local Rollbase capability has many benefits for South Africa, because of the speed and flexibility of the environment.
“Apps developed in Rollbase can tack onto other systems without forming part of their business logic, and therefore does not require more than 20% of the coding effort that otherwise would be required. Developers get access to a range of templates to develop apps for CRM, Order Management, Help Desk, Document Management and so forth. Some resellers simply use these templates to market as white label solutions to future-proof their customers’ traditional or legacy technology.”
Consequently, Progress Software, through AIGS, is providing the local community (resellers and end customers) the capability to add value to their current offerings and applications with a rapid application development (RAD) environment, ultimately helping to prolong investments in legacy applications, he explains.