When Blue Pearl came up with a game-changing idea for the consultant employment market, First Distribution and AWS came to the party with the support and encouragement needed to make the vision a reality.
The result is that the Blue App (www.blueapp.blue) was up and running in just a few short months and is already exceeding its creators’ expectations.
The app is essentially an intelligent exchange where consultants and organisations are matched and brought together for projects ranging from a couple of days to months.
Saireshan Govender, founder and CEO of Blue Pearl, explains that the idea came from the company’s own experiences in helping customers to find skilled people.
Blue Pearl’s primary business is in providing data analytics and business intelligence services, and working with clients to develop and implement smart systems.
This has naturally led to a number of spin-off activities like software development and deployment services.
“In the course of working with our customers on their data analytics projects, we started to help some of them in sourcing high-end technology talent. It made sense for us to start servicing some of these needs ourselves since we understand the industry so well.”
But recruitment for either full-time staff or contractors can be a cumbersome business, Govender says. “You have to do the job specification, get budget approved, plough through CVs and do interviews – it takes time and resources.”
When Covid-19 and the resultant lockdowns hit, this process become more onerous than ever.
“So we developed a platform to automate the process. Clients would sign on to hire contractors; and contractors would sign on to sell their services in terms of time and material to the clients.”
Revolutionary as the Blue App (www.blueapp.blue) was when it launched, Govender quickly saw how the company could make it so much better.
“We thought why not allow independent contractors to sell hours to multiple clients? The consultant could be the sole proprietor of his own skills and diversify his income.
“So we added automation that matches a job specification to a contractor’s profile.”
While this sounds simple, Blue App is enabled by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and automated processes on the back-end, which make relevant matches quickly; scoring profiles against a range of criteria.
“This allows clients to make decisions about a resource very quickly,” Govender says. “And then they can use the platform to request an interview and hire the resource.”
The app includes a timesheet module, contract terms and conditions, invoicing and payments. Interviewing is co-ordinated and takes place online.
Other services are being added almost constantly. Blue Pearl currently handles most of the administration of things like background checks, qualification verification and the back office support, but this is all being automated as well and will soon happen completely seamlessly in the background.
“Prior to Covid-19, there was a reluctance from many organisations to hire contractors,” Govender says. “But post-Covid we are looking at a very different world. Companies are looking to minimise or reduce payroll – but the consultants need to work.
“We believe the Blue App enables people to act as a contractor, working from home and selling their hours to one or many customers.”
The app is fully cloud-based, running on AWS with matching engine enabled by a number of AWS Services. The front-end is open source, running on Angular 9.
Bringing the cloud-based Blue App service to fruition took just a few months, thanks in large part to First Distribution, which helped Blue Pearl to sign up with AWS.
“We were able to go live on 1 June, purely thanks to the Blue Pearl’s outstanding team, First Distribution, AWS and our partners” Govender says. “I was an AWS partner but didn’t really know how to do this. But Thato Mosikari, sales specialist: AWS at First Distribution, put his hand up and walked me through the whole process. I was calling him at all hours and he never failed to help me.”
Mosikari helped Blue Pearl to apply for and receive Sustainable credits from AWS – literally within a number of hours. “This was incredible,” Govender says. “We had already invested in the platform, which enabled us to get it to where it was a few months ago. But First Distribution and AWS helped us to get it over the line, and to launch three months ahead of schedule.
“Thato also helped me to understand the AWS journey in getting from a registered to a select partner. We honestly feel that he has been an integral part of the team.”
Now that it’s running, Govender is confident that Blue App is going to fly. “We have had more clients than expected sign up already, and already seen a lot of interest from abroad. We are planning to spin up a version of the platform in San Francisco, which will launch in March next year.
“We really think we are setting trends in this space. We call ourselves the Air BnB of contracting, but we offer far more than that. We enable people who never thought they could be entrepreneurs to be entrepreneurs.”
Since its launch in June 2020, Blue App (www.blueapp.blue) has enrolled over 190 skilled consultants and 14 companies, and has sold more than 7535 project hours. ICT consultants may register their profiles at zero cost, and companies who require skilled resources may sign up for a three-month free trial.
About First Distribution
First Distribution was established in 1984 and has grown to be a broad based, premium IT distribution company, providing enterprise ready solutions for the Southern African market. First Distribution is a value added distributor of leading global brands providing complex ICT solutions to the Enterprise and SME markets, focused around the Data Centre, Virtualisation, Hosted Applications and Cloud Based Services, Database and Middleware, Security and Network Infrastructure – backed up by Unparalleled Expertise.