AITech Interview with Bill Tennant, Chief Revenue Officer at BlueCloud

Hello Bill, we’re delighted to have you with us, could you provide an overview of your professional journey leading up to your current role as Chief Revenue Officer at BlueCloud?   

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, finding ways to help support the family business from an early age. My first job was cleaning cars at my parent’s car rental company in Buffalo, NY. We worked hard and constantly discussed business, outcomes, and the variables that could be controlled to help drive the company KPIs in the right direction. It was a central part of my life. As I progressed through my academic journey, my focus was on financial and accounting management. However, my practical experiences led me away from the traditional paths of corporate and public accounting and towards a career in sales within the financial services sector. Over the years, I gained extensive exposure to businesses of all sizes, from small enterprises to corporate giants like General Electric. This diverse background equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of financial operations, laying the groundwork for my transition into business intelligence and analytics. Embracing emerging technologies, I navigated through various roles spanning sales, customer success, and solution engineering across multiple organizations. Despite experiencing success in different environments, I continually sought challenges that would leverage my financial expertise and keep me at the forefront of technological innovation. My journey eventually led me to ThoughtSpot, where I spearheaded market expansion efforts and rose through the ranks to manage multiple regions. However, it was my alignment with BlueCloud’s vision and values that ultimately drew me to my current role. Here, I’ve found the perfect combination of my diverse skill set and passion for driving business outcomes through transformative technologies.

In your extensive experience, what specific challenges do IT companies and consulting firms encounter when adapting to the rapidly evolving digital landscape?  

I’ve observed that one of the primary challenges is the necessity for clearly defined business values and a willingness to embrace change. This dynamic closely mirrors the fundamentals of a standard sales process. Just as in sales, it’s crucial to identify and understand the pain points driving the need for change. While it may seem tempting to stick with legacy technology, the risks associated with maintaining outdated systems can be just as significant, if not more so, than keeping pace with the evolving technological landscape. At its core, navigating this landscape requires effective change management and risk mitigation strategies. Moreover, it involves bridging the gap between technical solutions and non-technical stakeholders within organizations. For IT companies and consulting firms like ours, this often entails dedicating time and resources to ensure that stakeholders comprehend how technology integration aligns with and supports their overarching business objectives. Ultimately, the conversation must revolve around the delivery of tangible business outcomes and value rather than merely implementing cutting-edge technology for its own sake. If we fail to address this fundamental aspect, we risk providing solutions that lack meaningful impact and fail to meet the client’s objectives. Therefore, our challenge lies in consistently facilitating discussions that center on the alignment of technology with specific business needs and desired outcomes.

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AITech Interview with Chris Conant, Chief Executive Officer at Zennify

Chris, could you start by introducing yourself and your role at Zennify and sharing a little about your background in the finance and technology sectors?

I joined Zennify in April 2023 as Chief Executive Officer. I’m a customer success and IT services veteran with over 15 years of experience in the Salesforce ecosystem and 30 years in technology.

Most recently, I was the Senior Vice President of Customer Success at Salesforce. I led the North American Success team responsible for ensuring the retention and growth of the $15B customer base. Before that, I was the COO of Model Metrics (acquired by Salesforce in 2011) and was a board advisor to Silverline and 7Summits, services firms within the Salesforce ecosystem. I was privileged to advise them on scaling and company growth.

We have a fantastic opportunity at Zennify to push boundaries and change the way consulting is done, using AI and tools to accelerate implementations and customer time to value. We strive to be the top boutique Salesforce and nCino consultancy for financial services firms. I’m proud to be here at Zennify and to continue upholding our reputation as one of the go-to partners for financial institutions that want to see accelerated outcomes.

Why financial institutions should ban AI at their own risk:

Chris, you’ve raised the idea that financial institutions should not ban AI at their own risk. Could you elaborate on why you believe AI is crucial for the financial sector’s future and what potential risks they face by not embracing it?

AI has and will continue to impact the breadth, depth, and quality of products and services offered by financial institutions. There are multiple use cases for AI – and a lot of them focus on increased efficiencies. For example, teams can use AI to better predict and assess loan risks, improve fraud detection, provide better and faster customer support through smarter personalization, and analyze data in unstructured ways – all while reducing costs. These are use cases that would have typically taken more time and have more room for errors. Understanding and implementing AI thoughtfully leads to sustainable business growth and staying ahead of your competitors.

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Arun Shrestha, Co-founder and CEO at BeyondID – AITech Interview

Can you provide a brief overview of your background and your current role as the Co-founder and CEO at BeyondID?

I have over 20 years of building and leading enterprise software and services companies. As CEO, I’m committed to building a world class organization with the mission of helping our customers build secure, agile, and future-proof business. I pride in partnering with customers to strategize and deploy cutting edge technology that delivers top business results.

Prior to co-founding BeyondID, I worked at Oracle, Sun Microsystems, SeeBeyond and most recently Okta, which went public in 2017. At Okta, I was responsible for delighting customers and for building world class services and customer success organizations.

The misuse of AI and deep fakes is becoming a serious concern in the realm of identity and security. Could you share your thoughts on how bad actors are leveraging these technologies to compromise trust and security?

The use of AI-powered deepfakes to create convincing images, audio, and videos for embarrassing or blackmailing individuals or elected officials is a growing concern. This technology can be used for extortion and to obtain sensitive information that can be used in harmful ways against individuals and businesses. Such actions can erode trust and harm society, as individuals may question the authenticity of genuine content, primarily if it depicts inappropriate or criminal behavior, by claiming it is a deepfake. Malicious actors can also use AI to mimic legitimate content and communications better, making it harder for email spam filters and end users to identify fraudulent messages and increasing phishing attacks. Automated AI attacks can also identify a business’s system vulnerabilities and exploit them for their own gain.

In the context of a zero-trust framework, could you explain the concept of verifying and authenticating every service request? How does this approach contribute to overall security?

The Zero Trust philosophy is founded on the belief that nobody can be fully trusted, and so it is essential to always authenticate any service request to ensure its authenticity. This can only be achieved through the authentication, authorization, and end-to-end encryption of every request made by either a human or a machine. By verifying each request, it is possible to eliminate unnecessary access privileges and apply the appropriate access policies at any given time, thereby reducing any potential difficulties for service requestors while providing the required service.

In conclusion, what would be your key advice or message to organizations and individuals looking to strengthen their security measures and ensure trust in an AI-driven world?

Consider adopting Zero Trust services as the fundamental principle for planning, strategizing, and implementing security measures in your organization. The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has recently released a Zero Trust Maturity Model that provides valuable guidance on implementing Zero Trust Security. Identity-First Zero Trust Security is the most effective approach to Zero Trust because it focuses on using identity as the main factor in granting access to human and machine services.

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