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3 pillars to face COVID-19: Software, Responsiveness and Solidarity

COVID-19 affected the entire world, and neither we nor our clients were spared. When assessing the impact, what actions we took and in what timeframe, the first thing we confirmed was the strength of the GeneXus Community and its ability to adapt quickly to change. We are a mature Community that evolves and is well-positioned to pivot in the face of sudden changes. 

This article is about the human and technical strength that keeps us going.

Let’s look at the GeneXus Community’s ability to quickly create solutions. GeneXus was established as a company in 1989; since then, we have experienced and overcome countless crises, and have learned a fundamental and common truth in all these scenarios: every problem and difficulty has an end. Not only that, but when they are over there is a favorable environment to recover, evolve, and become stronger. 

The true spirit of GeneXus and its worldwide Community lies in the “Power of Doing” on which we took our stand last year but which we have always used. For the last few months –when the crisis peaked– we have been working side by side with governments, public and private institutions, clients from various segments, and software houses to generate fast, effective, and reliable solutions. 

Everyone from their place had something valuable to contribute and help overcome the crisis. 

When it all started, we at GeneXus wondered what we could do to, and along these lines, we have been developing different ideas and strategies since March 2020, and we want to share them with all those who make up this valued Community:
  1. Use our technology resources for the benefit of the society we live in 
  2. Remain close to our clients 
  3. Support our partners and universities

#1: Use our technological resources for the benefit of the society we live in:

COVID-19 reached Uruguay on March 13, 2020. We were concerned and realized that we could contribute greatly, so a prototype was quickly developed and introduced to the government on Sunday, March 15. 

We brought our vision, commitment, and effort, and the government, through the Agency for the Electronic Government (AGESIC), the Ministry of Public Health (MSP) and the President’s Office reciprocated by trusting us to implement it. All of us who worked on the application donated our work. 

On Friday, March 20 (5 days after those first meetings), the first version of the Coronavirus UY application was already underway, with a backend system for the MSP, work inboxes for the laboratories and health care providers (public and private), and an optimized digital process. 

How did we do it? With GeneXus, of course! In addition, we relied on the commitment of many technology companies in Uruguay (and some from abroad!), government agencies and, above all, a team of individuals who devoted all their time and energy to carrying out this demanding task. 

Over the following two weeks, the system evolved to add a clinical follow-up inbox for health care providers and drive-through testing scheduling (to perform swab tests without people getting out of their cars). In version three, telemedicine (remote medical service delivery) and self-monitoring features for positive patients were added. 

As a result of this prompt response, in addition to other public and social measures, Uruguay has managed to keep the spread of the disease flat, ranking among the countries that have been most successful in dealing with COVID-19. 

The application has continued to evolve, placing Uruguay among the first 4 countries in the world (together with Italy, Switzerland, and Germany) to integrate the Exposure Notifications functionality from Apple and Google, which allows users to receive alerts of proximity or exposure to people diagnosed with COVID-19 via Bluetooth on their cell phones.

#2 - Remain close to our clients:

Recognizing that this is not a time to boost sales, our CEO, Nicolás Jodal, asked us to be closer than ever to customers, collecting information on their particular situations in order to determine how to work together and move forward. 

Thanks to this research, we discovered that many of them, besides facing a tough economic climate, were struggling with the additional challenge of teleworking, so we designed the following measures to partially mitigate the problem: 
  • From a financial perspective, we considered keeping our clients with us, preventing the costs of GeneXus from becoming an unbearable burden in this scenario. We evaluated each individual case, adapting to their different financial circumstances in order to overcome the crisis together and make it easier for our clients to use our technology to make a difference or reshape their business model.
  • We offered GeneXus and GeneXus Server licenses free of charge, to ensure that those who needed to work outside their offices with GeneXus could do so without any additional costs during the pandemic, using GXserver as a tool for collaboration and distributed work. 
  • We increased the number of online training materials available in GeneXus Training, and free webinars provided in English, Portuguese, and Spanish so that our clients and the general public could quickly learn about the new features of GeneXus, as well as about other topics ranging from low-code development, robotics, and artificial intelligence to innovation and digital marketing. 

In short, we remain steadfast and fully committed to stand by all customers who are experiencing difficulties during these critical times. 

We also invite members of the Community to join this sharing network by offering their knowledge through lectures, webinars or online courses, or by writing articles. This moment, although challenging, is also an opportunity to support each other as a Community. 

The pandemic also forced many companies to implement changes in their systems in a very short time. 

The wide range of technologies GeneXus can generate and the different platform types it supports for deployment –both on-premise and in the cloud– allowed us to quickly support different industries as they worked to adapt their pre-crisis software systems to the new reality. This included rewriting code for new operations, changing business rules or performing new functionalities to adapt to new experiences. 

#3 - Support our partners and universities:

The GeneXus Community has different types of partners: academic, technology, and solution partners. 

By reaching out to them, we discovered that they faced challenges in areas such as learning, response speed, and ability to adapt to the new reality. 

Academic Challenge: the new online reality of the teaching/learning system. 

Educational institutions were forced to adapt to the new reality and respond very quickly despite not having the necessary resources. For this reason, we approached the universities and educational centers of Latin America that, without being fully prepared, had to provide education entirely online. 

For those institutions that traditionally did not teach GeneXus to their students, we made all the courses available online, so their students could learn the skills needed to develop software quickly and easily. 

Once again, the power of the GeneXus Community Partners was demonstrated here, as they supported and tutored students throughout the learning process. 

Software, Responsiveness and Solidarity:

We believe that these three pillars can help us all move forward: software, because it is what we do and we know the impact it can have on people and companies; responsiveness, because acting and evolving quickly with changes is in our essence, and solidarity, because we are not alone and we must support each other to overcome the challenges of this new reality, as well as those to come.

This is a difficult time and we did our best to get through this winter. We are optimistic, because 30 years of experience have shown us that the crisis will pass, and that each one of us will have collaborated to make the most of and enjoy the spring that will follow.