Digital Transformation Is an Opportunity to Focus on the Customer: An Interview with Jatil Damania
Jatil Damania recently joined Contino as the U.S. Director of Delivery, bringing with him over 15 years of industry experience. We recently sat down with Jatil to learn more about his background and why he’s excited for the opportunities at Contino.
Thank you for taking some time to sit down with us. Can you tell us about your background leading up to Contino?
Well, I'm a physics grad, so I come from a scientific background. I also worked in high-tech engineering for a couple of years. I moved over to consulting because I wanted to get exposure to various types of projects and different working environments.
I’ve predominantly worked with large organizations, with IT departments of up to 600-700 people. I was in consulting for just over 10 years, and I spent the last few of those years focused on helping CIOs make their organizations more effective. That involved everything from IT strategy and organizational design, to a larger focus on DevOps, agile, and making IT organizations work effectively in delivering what they do to their clients. It’s really about that customer focus.
After that, I ran an engineering team for just under two years and created a platform to enable applications to deploy quickly. That was very much a greenfield project. We had a team of about 35 engineers and worked to create an easy-to-deploy application environments, so everything that DevOps prescribes from SCM to CI/CD to monitoring and logging primarily helping the application workflow, from idea to code to commit to production.
The option came up to marry those two consulting and engineering experiences at Contino, and that’s why I’m here - to help influence a lot of different organizations with my consulting and DevOps background, so they can ultimately serve their customers better.
And what was it about Contino that made you want to join?
All of the people I met were great and really talented. I had actually worked with Ben Wootton (Contino’s CTO) a few years ago in London, so I had been monitoring Contino for a while.
I believe we’re at an interesting point in how applications and software are developed. There’s an opportunity for organizations that don’t have modern practices to really jump on the bandwagon and improve the way they develop software and serve customers.
The differentiator for a lot organizations in serving their end customers is how they provide their services to customers. A lot of big think tanks are saying software and tech is paramount to that. If organizations aren’t modernizing how they deploy that, if they’re not able to make changes quickly and influence how customers interact with their services, they’re going to struggle to keep pace over the next decade or so.
The leadership here has similar vision, asking how we can help these organizations really step up their capability so they can compete and serve their customers in the best way. I was looking for an opportunity to spread my experience, and Contino seemed like a great place to do that.
Is there anything you see that frustrates you about the digital transformation journey?
I'd probably point to a few things.
One, they think there’s a magic bullet that someone can give them as the answer like a platform that solves all their problem. But, really, it's all about the capability and how the team works.
The second thing is within the organization. The siloed mentality is hard to to break down. It becomes, "I'll wait for you to solve the problem, and work on my thing until you come to me with that solution," as opposed to everyone getting in the room and helping. I think that's key.
I think third thing is that "as-code" (e.g. infrastructure-as-code) is an actual thing and it's open to everyone. So infrastructure, networking and all of that is now deployable via code. Anyone that can't do it is now more than able to upskill to be able to do it, and that's where the future is going.
What would your message be to C-levels who are looking to embark on a digital transformation?
My message is really about the opportunity that it provides to create a better relationship with the customer.
I've seen places where changes may take two or three years to implement and some where they may take two or three months. It's so different and so much more rewarding working on the latter and in a place where you can affect customers more often. That ultimately makes teams perform better, so the focus on the end customer throughout the process ends up bringing benefits to the organization as a whole and the end customer, as well.
What do you like to do outside the world of DevOps?
Well, last year it was cricket. This year.. I'm still deciding!
I’ve also always keen to try new restaurants. New York is great (Jatil moved from London in 2015) because it has tons and tons of restaurants. If you like food, you’ll never get bored.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
It's an exciting time right now. There's lots of opportunity for Contino to make a real difference in the industry and across organizations, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.