Catalytic’s Ravi Singh: ‘Making simple is hard’

8 Nov 2019

Ravi Singh. Image: Catalytic

Making digital products user-friendly isn’t just about having a sleek interface, Ravi Singh of Catalytic explains.

How do you ‘make simple’? This is a question that Ravi Singh, co-founder and CTO of US-based digital transformation platform Catalytic, grapples with constantly.

By ‘make simple’, Singh is talking about the challenge of making complex technologies and tools user-friendly. He believes that achieving this goes far beyond merely creating a nice user interface and stripping back the number of features.

Here, he discusses building new automation tools, focusing on outcomes rather than infrastructure, and the future potential for cognitive technologies.

‘We are constantly evaluating our platform to create new opportunities for more users’

Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy?

Our team and I are constantly pushing to make the most powerful technologies easy and simple to use. Making simple is hard. Making simple is not about just throwing a beautifully crafted graphical user interface (GUI) on something and reducing the number of features.

It is about deeply studying our partners and their team members to see how they work best with software. If that means they are using a command line interface (CLI) as part of their workflow, then we meet them where they’re at and make their platform easy to install, use, update and depend upon.

If their workday is spent all day in cloud applications, we provide a beautiful and easy experience there. We are constantly evaluating our platform to create new opportunities for more users that let them do more with a minimal learning curve and to keep them ahead of any trends.

Are you spearheading any major product/IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We are building an engine that will let a whole team easily build powerful automations and processes. In the past, part of the team would need to teach their speciality to others, which would limit how much they could build.

We let the process owners have simple-to-use-and-configure actions that can wrap legacy libraries or code from almost any language or platform to build robust solutions that can swap modules without the process owner knowing much about the library.

How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?

I have 24 talented people on my team. They’re focused on creating a great experience for our customers and creating customised solutions. We do not outsource. I find that we get the most value from having strong talented team members and nurturing new talent internally.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

We’re addressing digital transformation by focusing more on the outcomes and less on the infrastructure to get it done. One of the most exciting things that we routinely get to participate in is helping our partners change how they think about solving a problem by involving the team responsible for improvement with the tools to change it.

This focus on outcomes means that we can help create widely scalable, intelligent and smart solutions with easy-to-use tools that ‘automagically’ handle the complex infrastructure underneath them.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

The obvious answer is cognitive technologies, and we have only slightly begun on what is possible here. Even the cutting-edge of what is possible has underpinnings from decades ago. The real interesting trend is making these technologies easy to access.

You don’t need to be a Python developer with years of training and experience to predict an outcome — you can easily do that now. It is also the ability to combine these cognitive outcomes and solutions with the tooling to get it to the right people in a medium that allows them to make timely and meaningful change.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

The best data security starts with both people and process design. At Catalytic, data security is one of our core values, so it’s a consideration in everything that we do.

We believe that security awareness and proactive risk management are the best ways to ensure that data is protected. We know that even the best controls won’t work if your people don’t understand or follow them.

Our internal processes were built with security in mind from the start and many of them are run on our own platform, Catalytic. We encourage our employees to always think from a security risk perspective. We’re also fans of constant improvement and agility, so we never stop thinking of ways to improve and further strengthen our security program.

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