#32 No Code (RPA) Approach to Back Office Efficiency

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on Tue Dec 08 2020 16:00:00 GMT-0800 (Pacific Standard Time)

with Darren W Pulsipher, Sean Chou, Neil Bahandur,

Today’s episode is part 2 of a conversation with Sean Chou, Catalytic CEO, and Neil Bahadur, Catalytic Head of Partnerships. They talk with Darren about their no-code approach to back office efficiency with a platform that utilizes RPA and AI technology.


#rpa #automation #catalytic #compute #process #technology

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What is Catalytic?

Catalytic is a no-code cloud platform for building workflow solutions that improve and automate your back office operations.

A useful analogy to help people understand what Catalytic can do for the back office workflow is what Wordpress did for web publishing. Prior to Wordpress, creating a website was a complex task that involved multiple people with a variety of specialized skills. With Wordpress and subsequent, more advanced software, creating a website is a relatively simple task. A designer or content expert, for example, can easily create a website on their own.

Catalytic’s goal is to similarly simplify the messy, complex systems of the back office and create efficiency and solutions via robotic process automation (RPA). Someone who has a bit of technical proficiency should now, with Catalytic’s technology, be able to independently create a back office solution.

A common fear that RPAs costs jobs is false; it actually creates new, more valuable opportunities. For example, with Wordpress, there is now the role of Wordpress developer, so this progression has not diminished developers’ skill sets, but added layers of ways people can bring those skills into something more scalable. Back office employees can likewise use their skills to add value or improve customer experience rather than focus on mundane, baseline work inherent in inefficient processes.

Catalytic’s Evolution and Differentiation

Catalytic differs from its competitors, first, by its roots. The current RPA industry came from two evolutionary lines, one stemming from Excel macro and the other from UI testing. Catalytic comes from the Dev Ops world, scripting back office processes rather than having a screen-oriented view of automation. When Sean Chou co-founded Catalytic, he thought in terms of project management and how to orchestrate business-as-usual processes.

Catalytic is Purpose-built for Operations and Recurring Business Processes

Chou realized that since 85% or more of business is business as usual, many operations could be automated, so the platform could accomplish some of those tasks. It began with a simple, automated notification system that replaced employees sending emails, which then sent Catalytic on a trajectory to create more and more actions. To amplify the capabilities of the platform, Catalytic created an ecosystem with third party partners such as Google to leverage their technologies. Through the ecosystem, there is also the benefit of composable business work where people can create a workflow on the platform and save it, essentially, as an individual unit of work. For example, if there are six standardized steps in capturing a customer record, you can create that once and save it as an action on the platform, then share it with your entire team. This sharing mimics a software developer’s approach to solving hard problems by sharing code, but instead of code, it is actions. Composing, then, becomes much easier.

Catalytic has taken a thoughtful approach to provision, deployment, and management of everything on their platform. The cloud is not an afterthought; they created a cloud platform from scratch. Everything is centered around the cloud, although they also have the ability to work with on-prem systems and hybrid environments.

Catalytic is Designed to Enable an Enterprise-class Citizen Developer Program

The system was created in a dev ops environment and works as a build manager for the business, where business folks can actually do it themselves. Old build systems like Clear Case were hard to manage, and Catalytic has simplified things. It not only takes extra steps out, but changes up the division of labor. Catalytic targets people who are closer to the actual process to avoid handoffs. Efficiency is the core concept. An efficient build system that would detect bugs and reject them before trying to hand them off is critical to the success of the automated process.

The magic of the build systems is that they become more powerful as they pull in more pieces of your infrastructure. For example, it could interact with your SCM system to pull in the code, it could work with your servers to deploy, or it could interact with Rational Robot to do the automated testing. Of course, it all centers around the actions. The more actions are digitized, the more the system can capture, and the more powerful it becomes.

Another thing that differentiates Catalytic is the emphasis on employees doing high value work. The concept of low value and high value in RPA is common, but instead of using it as a sword to cut groups, Catalytic wants to use it as a shield to protect people to help them make the best use of their time and deliver a competitive advantage.

On the next podcast, Darren, Sean, and Neil will continue the conversation about the no-code approach to back office efficiency.

Podcast Transcript