Picture of Gal Shaul speaking

As Co-Founder/CTO, Gal Shaul played many roles at Augury over the last decade. Now he’s transitioning from Chief Technological Officer to Chief Product & Technological Officer. “It’s actually just formalizing what was already there: an inseparability between our product and our tech,” says Gal in this interview. “As CPTO, I’ll work to strengthen this connection to bring our products to a new level of innovation. It’s all about staying connected with our customers.”

CTO versus CPTO

Augury spent the last year massively scaling on impact and offerings. Is this connected to you scaling your job initials from CTO to CPTO? 

Gal: I’ve spent the past few years acting as both a CTO and a COO of the company, where I focused more on how we can scale than what we’re building. Focusing on what is actually closer to being my specialty. So I’m very glad we recently brought onboard Roy Eitan as Augury’s new COO and Yuval Niv as VP of Services to help the company mature. 

For me, it’s win-win to have a role that’s a bit narrower, but where I can go deeper into tech innovation and product innovation, and the leadership and team empowerment that innovation requires. I’m passionate about bringing the customers, product and technology closer together, and that’s what being Chief Product & Technology Officer is all about.

Read ‘Making Your Eureka Moment Last A Lifetime

In the past, you described your job as Co-Founder/CTO as changing every quarter. So why change the title? How is this different from the constantly evolving nature of the job as Co-Founder/CTO?

The founder’s role is constantly evolving, which is both challenging and exciting. As the company grows to product market fit, you’re busy building the culture and starting different new parts of the organization – while, of course, keeping in touch with everything around product and technology. And now as the company grows, it’s time for everyone’s roles to become more specialized. We’re no longer a startup where almost everyone needs to be a generalist.

The Magic: Where Tech Meets Product

However instead of tech or product, you are specializing in the intersection of the two…

Yes. I was leading R&D for a long time, and we came to realize that one of our crown jewels is the correlation and alignment that exists between our product and R&D – in other words, when we talk about products or technology, we usually mean the same thing. 

The main reason we build products and technology is to empower our customers. When developing our technology stack, we’re obsessed with how customers engage and the value they ultimately get. And I believe that’s where the magic happens: at the intersection of understanding customer needs and of the possibilities that technology has to offer – and then bringing these together. So that’s the core motivation. And while we’ve been working this way for some time already, it’s important to keep evolving and building this idea further.  

Working For The Future

Meanwhile, the CEO and CTO relationship remains a classic dynamic in the deep tech world. Will this dynamic change between CEO and CPTO? 

My first and foremost role at Augury remains being Co-Founder of the company. So, I’m a steward of the company, making sure we have whatever is needed to support our customers and our market. Co-Founder/CEO Saar Yoskovitz and I have been building Augury alongside an incredible team for over 11 years. Our relationship as founders is still one of Augury’s core advantages, and it’s only grown closer and stronger over time.

Read ‘Augury Co-Founder & CTO Gal Shaul Looks Back At The Leaps Forward

In my new role as CPTO, I plan on bringing product and technology, and our market closer together than ever before. I want to be able to not just get the team better exposure to customers and partners, but also to bring in more people from the industry to see what we’re building and how we work. 

Many of the things we’re working on will have a dramatic impact on the rest of the company and the industry as a whole. We’re shaping a vision of what the industry should look like in the next two to five years and then we’re building our products towards that vision. And so, this effort will involve Saar and our VP of Strategy Artem Kroupenev, along with all the leaders of product and technology. We’re all going to have an active role building the roadmap as we move forward.

Connecting AI To The People Who Create It: The Workforce

Augury is known for the strength of its AI. Are there particular benefits in aligning tech and product when it comes to deploying AI?

Absolutely. For AI to be useful, it needs to be closely aligned with, and shaped by, the needs of its users – and so should be easy to engage with. As opposed to traditional software, AI is enhanced and made more intelligent primarily through continuous engagement with end users. What’s more, I think about AI products not as building a thing, but as enabling an infrastructure for others to solve complex problems in ways they were not able to before. In other words, AI requires an inseparable relationship between product, technology and the people who use it.

So this is where workforce transformation fits in…

Another reason why tech and product must be inseparable is because we’re driving not just technological disruption, but also a wider behavioural change in the market as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

On one hand, we need to create new user experiences, increase engagement and invent new ways of working. On the other hand, we’re providing an end-to-end solution for the problem. Everything needs to be as easy as possible to use and everyone needs to understand the benefits. 

In order to make a product like ours successful, the end users will need to be closely looped in and involved throughout the process. Overall, the challenge we’re undertaking is not just about technology or product, it’s also a wider exercise in change management

From Machine Health To Production Health

This drive to formalize the unity between tech and product, is it also related to Augury’s other big news story of 2022: acquiring Process Health AI pioneers Seebo, so Augury can now take on full Production Health?

Absolutely. The goal of bringing Seebo into Augury can significantly expand our positive impact on the industry. From a CTPO perspective, by bringing Process Health and Production Health into the mix, we want to make sure that we’re keeping the organizations aligned around the concept of product and technology working together. 

“We want to make sure as we merge these two amazing technologies and two amazing products, we still remain customer-centric.”

This thinking informs not just the solutions we’re building for customers, but also the way we’re merging Seebo and Augury teams. When bringing two organizations together, the traditional approach is to put technology with technology, and product with product. From the standpoint of the organizational structure, management or even tech stack, this is often the easier and simpler thing to do. But we want to make sure that we remain customer-centric – that we do what’s best for our customers, and not what’s easier for us. So, as we merge these two amazing technologies and two amazing products, we will keep the teams and their composition cross-functionally focused on delivering the best value to customers. 

Read: ‘Augury Co-Founder Says Your Tech Is Only As Strong As Your People

Will this be your biggest challenge in the next two years? 

Besides further empowering our own Empowered Product Teams, we also want to further empower our customers. We want to give our customers the confidence, the tools and the ongoing support to tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges. Ultimately, we want to empower customers to make the most informed and valuable decisions – decisions that are driven by data, insight, and a holistic understanding of how they may impact their business, their people, and the environment. This is a cultural change that we hope to enable for our customers, and this starts with having the right culture internally at Augury. 

And I would say that an ongoing  mission is finding the right balance between quality and speed. Knowing when you need to continue improving a product versus getting to market faster. This is a constant balancing act, but it becomes much  easier with a committed and empowered team driving these decisions. 

You’ll be busy… You spend a day per week working from a forest. Will this change now that you’re CPTO?

I’m actually hoping to make it a day-and-a-half.

 

Read ‘Roadmap To The Future: Machine Health + Process Health = Production Health‘.