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Brian Sathianathan, Iterate.ai: “the risk of costly errors prevent organizations from taking the steps needed to evolve”

These days, AI is being used virtually everywhere, and app development is no exception.

Once implemented, AI instantly automated many mundane tasks and challenges and helps us build more reliable and easily adaptable solutions. But what's even greater is that when combined with other robust technologies, it becomes unstoppable. A great example is AI-powered low-code platforms.

To find out more about the innovations in the app development field, we reached out to Brian Sathianathan, Chief Technology Officer of Iterate.ai – a company that accelerates development by leveraging AI, Blockchain, IoT, Startup APIs, and Big Data in its unique low-code, drag-and-drop environment.

Iterate.ai is built around two components – how did the idea behind the company come about? How have you grown since your 2013 founding?

Our CEO Jon Nordmark and I met about a decade ago when we served on the board of a Ukrainian-based startup accelerator. We helped highly innovative young entrepreneurs from all over Eastern Europe learn more about the Silicon Valley approach to raising money and going to market.

That experience gave us the core idea for Iterate.ai, with our recognition that brains – not capital – were the new barrier to building tech startups, and that innovative startups are everywhere. We thought American and European enterprises need to find hidden gems, globally, to harness unique, new ideas and technologies.

We built our Signals platform to discover hidden gems, and now it tracks more than 15.8 million innovative companies. It uses proprietary AI to evaluate funding, patents, capabilities, and industry trends to help enterprises find the exact technologies they need to transform. Whether that’s frictionless checkout, blockchain, AR, etc – Signals helps enterprises find what they need.

Iterate.ai’s subsequent platform, Interplay, was born out of a common challenge enterprises faced trying to connect their legacy systems to the innovative new software solutions they engaged with. Interplay is a low-code application development platform, providing a drag-and-drop environment for quickly building innovative enterprise applications through the Lego-like assembly of pre-built modular software components.

Using Interplay, enterprises can tap into 475 modules covering everything from AI, blockchain, IoT, data integrations, etc, to develop applications 17x faster than with traditional programming. Importantly, there are no specialized developer skills required to use Interplay. The platform is both flexible enough to enable rapid prototyping and robust enough to operate in high-scale enterprise production environments.

Company growth since our founding has indeed come at a rapid clip. The business has grown 284% in the last three years, with about 62% growth expected this year, given how we’ve started out in 2022.

What’s your role at Iterate.ai?

I’m the company’s Chief Technology Officer, and I lead the development of the Interplay low-code platform.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges that organizations run into on their digital transformation journey?

Enterprises tend to struggle with how quickly they can begin taking advantage of innovative technologies that will truly transform their business. AI, IoT, data integrations, ad so on certainly have the power to turn their digital transformation visions into reality, but getting there via the traditional application development route can be far more time-consuming, complex, and expensive than they bargained for.

This is where the right low-code strategy provides tremendous value. Low-code accelerates and simplifies these transformations, especially in a landscape where hiring (and retaining) specialized talent such as AI engineers is difficult and costly.

What was the pandemic’s impact on your customers?

With the pandemic forcing enterprises to shutter their physical stores and offices abruptly, our customers scaled their focus on low-code digital applications. We actually doubled our employee count over the pandemic to meet this demand. Beyond just the drive to compete and bring digital capabilities to market faster, many customers required new pandemic-spurred features, such as a mobile e-commerce app facilitating curbside pickup.

Customers also invested in digital projects and low-code tools to enable more productivity across their distributed workforces, especially as many enterprises halted their hiring. The notion that the pandemic concentrated many years of change into a short timeframe rings true, and enterprises that saw that change as an opportunity – embracing low-code, AI, and other innovations – have a leg up on their competition now.

What security tools or solutions do you think companies should be adopting right now, perhaps particularly as more businesses stick with hybrid or remote workforces?

The most apparent impact of the hybrid/remote workforce is that everyone is on their home wifi or at the local coffee shop, working on sensitive documents. Whatever layers of security that centered around IP addresses and local networks have been eroded or put at great risk.

Companies can (and should) insist on VPNs for their remote workers, but that’s not a foolproof or airtight answer. Security needs to be back at the server level where documents and data are stored, assuming that workers are coming in through their browsers from a hodgepodge of insecure locations and network environments.

What are a few best practices that companies should follow when developing and launching applications with low code?

While low-code is widely applicable, organizations do need to make sure their chosen low-code platform aligns with their use case from an enterprise IT perspective. Ultimately, production-ready enterprise applications need to be as scalable, extensible, and secure as the use case demands. Here are a few high-level guidelines:

  • Make sure the use case fits the low code approach. Typically, solutions that require backend enterprise systems integrations, workflow logic, access to new technologies such as AI/ML models, IoT connections, connections into 3rd party vendors, and data manipulation are all good candidates for a low code project.
  • Select and verify a low code platform that will suit the enterprise's need and use case. There are several types of low code platforms: horizontal platforms that support frontend and backend development, backend integration platforms, and vertical special-purpose platforms (AI pipeline modeling or IoT builders).
  • Since this space is rapidly evolving, make sure the low code platform is flexible to work with and that it will incorporate feature/enhancement requests from the enterprise faster. Also, make sure the platform has several incremental software updates and releases throughout the year to keep up with the technology changes in the landscape.
  • Make sure IT requirements on security, scalability, and deployment are met.

In your opinion, why do certain companies hesitate to implement new and innovative solutions, despite all the technological advancements available nowadays?

The competitive benefits of achieving true innovations are undeniable. However, many enterprises aren’t sure about the path to realizing such advances, and the risks of costly errors often prevent organizations from committing to the leaps they must make to evolve.

It comes down to confidence and finding the right talent and technologies to enable bold moves forward. Low-code is certainly an example of a technology that combines an invitingly low threshold to entry with a tremendous upside from an innovation perspective.

Talking about the future, what technology do you hope to see emerge in the next few years?

As I see it, the most significant opportunities over the next few years lie in successfully leveraging some of the exciting technologies that still wear the “emerging” label today.

At Iterate.ai, we like to talk about what we view as the five forces that will shape innovation for the rest of this decade: AI, the IoT, blockchain, big data, and technologies from startups. AI continues to demonstrate unique approaches and solutions that go beyond what humans might have imagined alone.

The IoT and big data promise to play a growing role in all of our lives, enabling new smart devices and applications driven by transformative analytics insights. Innovations from startups will continue to play an essential role in steering our technology future, introducing as yet unheard-of solutions that may be ubiquitous tomorrow.

What’s next for Iterate?

We’re excited to have just released the newest version of our Interplay low-code platform, which focuses on even faster application development and more front-end integrations for end-to-end development.

Our v6.0 platform sped up software development by as much as 17x, and we believe v7.0 will be roughly 30x faster than traditional methods. Interplay has really become a modern one-stop shop for quickly bringing much-needed innovation into enterprise applications.

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