Amidst the 20,000 exuberant technologists and entrepreneurs who congregated at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), David Fuess, CEO of Catapult, stood proudly to celebrate the biggest award in the company’s history.
This was no easy achievement for the Texas-based company that has accomplished several noteworthy awards year-after-year from Microsoft. Considering its humble beginnings two decades back, in a spare room by the founder Sam Goodner and his friends, Catapult's current stature as the leading Microsoft technology partner is credited to getting a head start in embracing new consumption based solutions within consulting and technology services.
Catapult’s history primarily revolves around Microsoft technology consulting, developing with the growth and maturity of Microsoft and its products. “IT consulting has fundamentally changed. Solutions now focus more on underlying business problems, rather than the technologies themselves; flexibility and speed to market are paramount. Catapult is transforming this area, with a strong emphasis on digital transformation,” states Fuess.
Powering the Digital Transformation
In a ‘digitally transformed’ world, gone are the days when cloud computing, mobility, and other technology jargon would raise dubious looks. “Digital transformation is in the minds of every customer that we talk to,” says Fuess. “It has become the ‘buzzword du jour,’ meaning different things for different people.” There is, of course, something in it for every stakeholder; employees gain a digital experience on par with their personal life, and enterprises reap great rewards for their transformation efforts by improving customer experiences, thus driving revenue. With an estimated trillion-dollar market for cloud computing in the years to come, technology giants like Microsoft have been constantly pushing the envelope to reinvent the cloud space. “That is where everyone is placing their bet,” explains Fuess. “As a result, customers are looking to eliminate expenses such as data centers and contract-based enterprise licensed software from their operational infrastructure.” The new model can be tough for adopters—with different cost of ownership calculations, installation complexities, and configuration obscurities tipping the scale against a smooth transition. To that end, many of Catapult’s solutions and services are offered on a subscription basis, making it easier for customers to consume and use at their disposal.
Lighting the Office 365 Stack
Catapult’s Intranet-as-a-Service, dubbed Fuse, is available to customers on a subscription basis and is tailored to fit each organization’s needs, with minimal implementation time. Fuse is an employee engagement portal built on SharePoint Online, and maximizes employee usage of Office 365 features such as Yammer for social networking capabilities and Skype for telepresence and conferencing. The portal also enables department-specific functionality, “for example in HR, onboarding workflow, feedback forms, timesheet and attendance, calendaring, employee database, online resume, and skill-set management,” elaborates Fuess.
Digital transformation is in the minds of every customer that we talk to
Catapult’s service doesn’t end with implementing Fuse. An exclusive customer success manager (CSM) is dedicated to the client’s organization to ensure that their employee portals are not only being used, but are improving over time. The CSM proactively uses analytics to monitor usage and determine what sections of the site should be improved on and what is working within their company. Fuess noted that Catapult has recently observed a pattern in adoption. “Instead of launching an internal employee portal to the entire workforce, rolling out the service in an incremental fashion—one department or division at a time—boosts the popularity, thereby yielding greater engagement and productivity.”
To bring more clarity to the practical application of Catapult’s consultation and Microsoft expertise, Fuess recounts a recent customer success story. The client, Oceanside Unified School District, was operating on an aging mail exchange infrastructure that was struggling to keep pace with the workload distributed across 23 school sites and 20,000 students. Additionally, the cloud-based storage application, SkyDrive (now OneDrive) had sparked an interest with the Oceanside District, and all they needed was a guide to help them with smooth migration. Catapult introduced the necessary Microsoft tools, integration processes, and supervised the deployment of Microsoft’s Office 365 Exchange Online into Oceanside’s infrastructure.
Venturing into Automation
The volume of technology employed in enterprises is growing exponentially, making it nearly impossible for IT organizations to keep up with the demands of the business. Creating a sturdy framework for the transformation of an organization’s IT infrastructure requires increasing amounts of sophistication and automation. Catapult introduced Launch, an Automation-as-a-Service platform, to help meet this need, enabling the automation of complicated business processes such as employee onboarding, offboarding, data centralization, cloud automation, or response to security threats. Launch connects to a variety of end points such as Active Directory, Exchange, Office 365, and Skype for Business, as well as custom endpoints, and employs a managed approach to offload complex technology skillsets required for maintenance of the automation.
A Catalyst to Microsoft
The prolific and comprehensive nature of Microsoft’s technology stack can make navigating the myriad applications and utility tools taxing and beyond the scope of an organization’s core business proposition. Catapult has stepped in to fill that gap, with experts in nearly every Microsoft technology available on demand through Catapult’s Managed Services team. The company’s tight alignment with Microsoft’s roadmap translates into a cohesive service package for its customers. To accomplish this, Fuess comments that Catapult’s core business values and brand promise set it ahead of its competitors. “Just like how the world’s number one golfer differs from the number 50 by only a few percentiles, Catapult has etched a niche for itself in the Microsoft arena, through its unique three-pronged approach,” delineates Fuess. “Firstly, we deliver on our promises. Every time. Secondly, we do everything as a unified Catapult team to ensure our customers benefit from the experience and expertise from our whole company. Lastly, we’re easy to work with, our flexibility exceeds expectations.”
"We call our approach Solutions-as-a-Service, where we give clients pre-developed intellectual property and then customize it to their needs"
At WPC, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, emphasized “the need to embrace digital transformation,” a focus echoed by Catapult. “The idea of digital transformation is monumental,” Fuess says. “For its part, Catapult is investing in our technical leadership in the digital and cloud landscape and enriching the Microsoft partner ecosystem.” With the development of more IP based solutions underway and the imminent launch of yet another addition to its product portfolio, the company is ‘all systems go’ to hold its stand in the Microsoft hall of fame. And sure enough, with Microsoft users laying a winning wager on subscriptions services becoming the future of IT, Catapult will be a slingshot for digital transformation.