On this episode of Davood For Thought, host Davood Ghods welcomes Kyle Katt, Chief Experience Officer at Launch Consulting.
Kyle started his career as a data engineer, however, due to vision challenges related to a genetic eye condition, he began to spend more time in data analytics, architecture, and technology leadership roles, focusing on developing and empowering teams across the organization. Kyle brings 25 years of solution development and technology leadership to Launch, and drives a seamless connection of core capabilities, innovation and human impact across all launch engagements.
Davood and Kyle discuss collaboration between people, data and technology disciplines in the digital transformation space, and the value of focus on customer experiences related to Launch's services, offerings, and solutions.
The Davood for Thought podcast is brought to you by Launch Consulting.
We are in an era of rapid change where resilience is vital, the Davood for Thought podcast dives into the most important topics in government and technology today, our host Davood Ghods sits down with his vast network of colleagues to dish on the tech challenges that affect us all. Hello, everyone, welcome to Launch Consulting's Davood for Thought podcast. I'm Davood Ghods, and I will be your host today. The way I stay up with pressing topics of tech and government of today is to tap into the panel of experts I've had the honor of connecting with over the years. Today, we have Kyle Katt on the podcast. Kyle brings 25 years of solution development and technology leadership to Launch Consulting, the amazing firm that Direct Technology changed its name to. I must say that I am very excited to be part of the Launch Team and see so many great things ahead for us and our clients. In his current role as chief experience officer for Launch, Kyle fosters collaboration between people, data and technology disciplines in the digital transformation space, with a strong focus on customer experiences related to Launch's services, offerings, and solutions. Kyle drives a seamless connection of core capabilities, innovation and human impact across all launch engagements. Kyle started his career as a data engineer, however, due to vision challenges related to a genetic eye condition, he began to spend more time in data analytics, architecture, and technology leadership roles, focusing on developing and empowering teams across the organization. Kyle is a Seattle native having received his bachelor of science degree from UCLA in computer science. He has worked in corporate environments, played key roles in startup companies and has spent the last 20 years consulting. Outside of the office, Kyle enjoys traveling, playing sports, and hosting barbecues for friends and family. Kyle, without sharing a lot more of your background. I want to welcome you to this episode of Davood for Thought podcast and ask you to tell us about yourself and for someone who may not know about your background, please give us an overview what you've done, what you're currently working on these days. Welcome. Great. Thanks Davood. Appreciate you letting me be here and, and participate in your podcast. Let's see my background and what I'm working on these days. It goes back to the mid nineties coming out of UCLA. As you mentioned, I, I focused heavily in the data and analytics world. That's always been my personal passion, you know, starting out with the corporate world, right outta college. I worked for a couple of financial data companies and really got my start with programming and quickly realized that, you know, I have a, a real passion for entrepreneurial, uh, pursuits building businesses in addition to the work itself. So in the late nineties, as a lot of people in my generation, did I, I was, uh, part of a couple of, of tech startups in the, in the.com space. One in the entertainment space where I worked with, uh, a few of my friends, I was the database architect and data engineer. Then I realized, I like to, I like to spend time in a lot of different areas. So consulting became kind of a natural fit for me. You know, I, I started at, at a, a very small kind of boutique data and analytics consulting company here in the Seattle area where I was able to focus on a kind of a variety of clients, not just one industry or one product, but, uh, I was able to focus across a lot of different types of engagements and different types of capabilities. So that's where I started getting into not just, you know, databases, but the analytics side, you know, this is early two thousands prior to AI and ML and machine learning and all of that becoming super mainstream, but there was definitely kind of the start of the cloud and, uh, predictive analytics and things like that. So that, you know, kind of, I took my career in that direction. And, and that's kind of been my passion for the last 15 years or so in 2007, Henrich, uh, Montana. And I who's, he's the current CEO of launch consulting. He and I decided, Hey, you, we have some similar interests and similar goals. And, and we decided to start our own consulting business called one 10 consulting with another one of our, another one of our colleagues focused heavily on, uh, the Microsoft technology space. You know, Azure was just getting started, power BI back, you know, back then was just getting started. And it was, you know, it was a great opportunity for us to build a consulted business that we want with the way we wanted to do it. So we started that company in 2007, uh, built it up over the years, focused, heavily on Microsoft technology. And then in 2016, that's when tag and DT and launch enter the picture, they, they acquired one 10 consulting and merge that together into launch for what we see kind of, uh, today, you know, my role at one 10 was CTO. So I focused, you know, not just at that point on data and analytics, but all of, you know, kind of all of our technical engagement, software development, you know, cloud transformation, you know, and that's where I started getting into digital transformation. So then in launch as one 10 burst into there, uh, I took a focus, uh, and ran the data analytics and AI practice at launch consulting three or four years or so, and then a year or so after that, I spent a as the CTO of launch consulting focused across, again, not just data analytics, but kind of across the board. And then most recently this last year, I moved into my current role as chief experience officer. And the exciting part about that for me is it's, uh, the focus of that role is not just data, not just technology, but also bringing in the people and human experience of, of our services and, and how we deliver work. So it's things like create a design, human experience, product design, learning, and development, organizational effectiveness, combining all that with our technology leadership and solution architecture work, our data analytics, AI practice, and then also software engineering and, and cloud infrastructure. So that's what I focus on now kind of bringing all that together to, you know, to help, help launch deliver more collaborative and, and, um, fully empowering solutions to all the clients. Excellent. Well, we are lucky to have you as our CXO and, uh, we do, you look at everything from a human experience aspect, and that's been a key factor in the solutions that we develop and with all your, uh, varied background, you would be a perfect fit for that role. So with your different experiences, Kyle, what emerging trends are you seeing in the on business fields that we all should be paying more attention to these days? I talk about that specific question quite a bit, um, in this role and with the people that I work with on a daily basis thing, the one, the one trend I feel like is most exciting to me is, is really kind of, uh, artificial intelligence machine learning, becoming fully mainstream and not just this fringe or peripheral passion project, but really, uh, getting integrated into mainstream projects, mainstream engagements, and not just in tech companies, but all companies. So predictive analytics, uh, machine learning. When some people hear that they think, Hey, it's gonna, it's replace all the people. And you're just gonna have a bunch of robots running around, taking over all the work, you know, and, and what I like to say is, Hey, it's, it's not gonna, it's not gonna replace people. It's gonna, it's gonna help empower people, help make them more efficient and, and let the people focus on the higher value work and let the artificial intelligence and the machine learning rhythms focus on automating the tasks that are repetitive or, or potentially more tedious and more mundane that they can do. And, you know, a fraction of a second and, and, and let people really focus on, on how to add value through the work they're delivering. So that, that I think is, um, something that's gonna become even more mainstream and, and really be required for companies to compete, you know, going forward. I would agree with you and definitely AI and machine learning and predictive analytics. We see more and more of that being the emerging trend that's happening out in the industry and in government, Kyle, I think you would agree that adjusting to the pandemic was challenging for many organizations are now, everyone is thinking, oh, what the next major disruption like to a pandemic is going to be, and how can we better be prepared for it? So, resiliency is really a big topic of conversation these days. What are some examples of resilience you have seen in the past year, year and a half? And what is the one thing organizations should be doing to improve resilience? Yeah. You know, maybe it's because my personal background is heavily focused in data and analytics. I really feel like the next big disruption or the next big situation that, that all companies and businesses are gonna need to be prepared to deal with is, is data security, data, privacy, identity management, and, and all of the risks around protecting their intellectual property, protecting their data in the cloud. As you know, as digital transformation accelerates, you know, you see Azure and AWS and GCP clouds growing at huge percentages every year in terms of workloads in, in, you know, on, on premises versus in the cloud. So I feel like in order to be resilient for the next challenging situation, companies need to understand how to protect their data in the cloud, uh, how to protect their customer information in the cloud, how to protect their intellectual property in the cloud. So it doesn't get stolen or held for ransom or released, you know, into, into public areas, not only to protect their IP, but, you know, protect the people and the customers that trust them with their data. You know, you see all kinds of things in the news lately with around privacy and security with apple and Facebook, or I guess meta at this point, but, you know, companies having a plan to, to protect that data proactively, but then also have disaster and recovery and business continuity plans around what happens if there is a breach, how to limit that, how to, how to correct that, how to, how to deal with that after the fact, you know, I feel like those types of initiatives is really gonna be the next kinda, uh, I guess, frontier for challenges. Yeah. That's an interesting angle from the data analytics perspective. You know, the disruption doesn't have to be a pandemic. It could be a natural disaster, like a flooding or earthquake. It could be a, uh, widespread of computer virus or a civil undre, but still protecting the data integrity and data. Privacy is really key. Yeah. I mean, I think even to take that one step further, you know, the next even type of, of conflict between countries is gonna be cyber, cyber warfares, and then cyber security challenges. So, you know, or even just hackers in all, all over the world, taking data, uh, and holding it for ransom. So I, so I feel like every company needs to be extremely proactive in that area, hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Excellent advice. As you know, Kyle at launch consulting, we always talk about how we are going to get a project or something done, but we also ask why, or are we doing what we are doing? What is your, why? In other words, what motivates you in your work? My, why is, uh, kind of wrapped in, in a couple quotations? So I guess one, uh, one thing I like to live by is, is life is about the journey, not the Destin. So I do feel like my, why is, you know, coming to launch every day, uh, you know, working with the amazing people at launch and, and trying to be a positive influence on, on the day to day work and making sure that our engagements with our clients are adding value, making sure our solutions are actually adopted by the, by the audience and the end customer. And, and that those solutions are adding value, uh, and enjoying, you know, enjoying the process of, of building the solutions and working with the clients, understand what they need. You know, it's great to deliver value at the end of the day and release the product and have it be well received. But, you know, that's a very small percentage of the time spent as compared to building the solution. So I, I really feel like my why is being a positive impact and helping coworkers and clients kind of enjoy the journey of the work. Excellent. Next question is about out how to inspire your team to be innovative. You've had teams at D with different roles. How do you inspire them to be innovative? You know, I think what I said earlier about combining the human experience aspect, the human impact with the, the, the, the technology and data component, you know, I, I feel like challenging people to understand how the solution is gonna be used by the end customer, how, and, and what value people are gonna get out of the experience of the solution versus just whatever needle is gonna be moved by the results. I, I, I feel like that human aspect drives innovation and drives people to think about it in a different perspective. So there's that, but then also, you know, in consulting, you know, it's all about utilization, uh, gross margin, bill rates, and, you know, maximizing time. So I feel like, you know, especially in consulting, you have to give people time to be innovative and to think about what's gonna, you know, what, what are the solutions that are gonna be relevant, you know, next year, or in five years, you can't have people folks a hundred percent of the time on what needs to get done today or this or this month. So it's kind of a combination of, of challenging people for the human experience, but also giving them time to think about, you know, next generation type work. Very true, very true. You took a realistic angle and responded to it because yeah, gross margins come into the, a maximizing time coming to play, but, uh, giving the time to the team and especially from a human aspect, the next couple of questions are really from the human side of tech is what we call. And it's about a little bit personal. What is something that would surprise people about your background, lower interests? Uh, you touched on it in my bio at the beginning, about 12 years ago, I had this genetic eye condition and my eyesight, uh, was fine up until then, but about 12 years ago, it started getting worse. Progressively got to the point where I became legally blind and, you know, so I couldn't get on my computer right code and, and perform the actual hands on work anymore. So, you know, it, it kind of forced me to figure out how to, rather than doing it all myself, how to work with people, you know, how to scale through other people, how to coach other people, how to build teams and be more of a facilitator and, you know, and an architect. And then ultimately, you know, as I continue to progress through that, you know, get to the point of really focusing on technology, leadership, helping companies, you know, at this point at launch build new capabilities, you know, what we call our studios is our, our, you know, our functional areas around data, software development, human impact, and technology. So, so focusing on building those capabilities, um, you know, and leading, leading that organization is, is, is kind of now my passion. So I guess it would be kind of surprising for someone super focused on data and analytics to not be able to actually see the data visualization or the charts or the graphs, or the output of all that, but still impact and, and, and, and drive that. Yeah. And have it have such a strong passion for it. So that's great. We have a, as you know, we have an accessibility, digital accessibility solution and service that we offer and have done a lot of work around. And this shows that not only we talk to talk regarding accessibility, but we walk the walk where our own former CTO and current CXO has vision impaired and has such a passion for data and analytics, uh, but is legally blind. Well, that's great that you were able to share that. And, uh, it's probably a, something that not too many people know about launch or about you. Yeah. You know, and even to take that one step further, what I've come to realize there's a lot of ways to interact and, and, and experience data analytics, uh, you know, even the results of, of software development, you know, I mean, just, just look around your daily life. You have things like Siri on your iPhone, or you have maybe Alexa sitting on your kitchen counter, you know, that, that also of that stuff translates into the kind of work we do, you know, so there's screen readers and, you know, um, different ways to interact with your laptop or, or through your team. So it, you know, it's forced to me to bring a different perspective to the table and, you know, and you're right. Our digital accessibility offering that, that we've been working on at launch consulting, it's a, it's a simple and straightforward solution offering, but the, the result and the value, it brings to people who, who need those accessibility, you know, assistance, you know, it's really invaluable. And it, and it really does change people's lives. It does. And my last question, Kyle, where can people's find you and keep tabs on what you're working on? How can people support your work? Well, you can definitely connect with me on LinkedIn. I think the bio you read is, is, uh, posted on my LinkedIn page. I'm happy to connect with anybody on LinkedIn, or you can also check out what we're doing at launch consulting at the, at the launch cg.com website. We do post all of our to hop initiatives out there and, um, you know, and continue to evolve both of those places. So please reach out to me through either one of those. Thank you so much for joining us today, Kyle. That was great. Thank you to all the listeners out there for joining us as well. We will see you in the next episode of the, for thought, where we will shed more light on the human side of tech. Follow this podcast on your favorite platform and join the conversation by sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, the.