AITech Interview with Raj Gummadapu, Co-Founder and CEO at Techwave

Raj, please share key insights into your role as the Founder and CEO of Techwave and your journey contributing to its rapid growth.

As the Founder and CEO of Techwave, my journey has been one of relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation. Steering Techwave from its inception to becoming a global leader in digital transformation services has been both challenging and rewarding. My role has demanded a visionary outlook to foresee industry trends, a strategic mindset to navigate market dynamics, and a people-first approach to leadership. This trifecta has been crucial in contributing to Techwave’s rapid growth. We’ve expanded our global footprint, diversified our service offerings, and nurtured a culture that champions innovation, inclusivity, empathy, and continuous learning. My leadership philosophy has always been about empowering our teams, fostering a collaborative environment, and placing our clients at the center of everything we do.

What notable accomplishments has Techwave achieved under your leadership, particularly in terms of expansion, capitalization, and employee engagement initiatives?

Under my stewardship, Techwave has achieved remarkable growth, a testament to our innovative solutions, customer-centric approach, and the dedication of our global workforce. We’ve significantly expanded our presence, now operating with a prominence presence in 11 countries across the globe and serving a diverse client base across industries. Our workforce has grown to over 3000 associates, a reflection of our robust expansion and capitalization strategies.

Our employee engagement initiatives, particularly the SPARK framework, underscore our commitment to creating a vibrant and inclusive work culture. This framework focuses on engaging employees, fostering community engagement, and promoting diversity, which has significantly contributed to our high levels of employee satisfaction and retention.

Our corporate social responsibility efforts, like supporting the Houston Food Bank and participating in Primiethon – The Hope Run, reflect our commitment to making a positive impact in the communities we serve. These initiatives, alongside our accolades such as Asia’s Best Employer Brand Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award, highlight our achievements in fostering a culture of excellence and community service.

How has Techwave positioned itself to stay ahead in a competitive digital landscape?

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, staying ahead requires agility, foresight, and a commitment to innovation. At Techwave, we’ve positioned ourselves at the forefront of digital transformation by continuously investing in emerging technologies and nurturing a culture that embraces change. Our R&D efforts are focused on leveraging AI, machine learning, cloud-native technologies, and blockchain to develop solutions that address our clients’ most complex challenges of today and tomorrow.

We prioritize understanding our clients’ unique needs and market dynamics, which enables us to tailor our solutions for maximum impact. Our approach to innovation is not just about adopting new technologies but integrating them in ways that redefine business processes, enhance customer experiences, and drive sustainable growth.

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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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The future of AI-Powered coding: Why code generation is not enough

The dawn of the digital age brought forth a range of technological advancements, reshaping industries and redefining norms. In the realm of software engineering, generative AI coding assistants, including tools like GitHub Copilot and Tabnine, epitomise this wave. Drawing from the impact of foundational models like OpenAI’s GPT and Anthopic’s Claude, these tools interpret natural language inputs to suggest and generate code snippets, amplifying developer productivity. Notably, GitHub Copilot now underpins a staggering 46% of coding tasks, enhancing coding speed by an impressive 55%.

A study from McKinsey emphasised that software development stands as one of the best ways to achieve organisational efficiency with generative AI. Yet, the overarching question remains: How can generative AI go beyond mere code generation to elevate the software development life cycle?

Code better, not just faster

According to a recent survey from Stack Overflow, 70% of developers are either harnessing AI tools or gearing up to integrate them in the imminent future. Yet, while tools like GitHub Copilot and Replit’s Ghostwriter are predominantly centred on development and testing, there are several ways that generative AI could be used to enhance developer’s workflows.

Among the various stages of the Software Development Life Cycle, code optimisation is one that is often overlooked. Yet, when embedded within the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment processes, it becomes the point wherein code is developed to peak performance. It’s the point at which code isn’t just moulded to function but to excel, to minimise latency and to amplify user experiences.

However, the benchmarks for code performance are continuously being changed, particularly in a landscape dominated by AI. But what exactly is driving this?

Cost of compute and profitability: Software is eating the world. Even the allure of modern vehicles often lies in digital features like parking assistance and IoT connectivity. Yet, the attraction of generative AI coding assistants comes at a price. A16Z’s report underscores this, with cloud spending often taking 75-80% of revenue for software firms. Clearly, efficient code is not merely a technical goal but a financial necessity, as it can significantly cut cloud costs and boost profit margins for organisations.

Speed, Scale and Customer Experience: In the business world where milliseconds matter, code optimisation is the linchpin. From high-frequency trading to autonomous vehicle decision-making, performance is king. However, the advent of Generative AI and LLMs brings a new dimension to the speed challenge. Despite their benefits, the extensive processing times associated with LLMs can pose a significant hurdle for real-time and edge applications, particularly as the number of users and applications continues to grow.

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Moving Past the Relics of Password-Secured Credentials with FIDO 2.0

In an era where digital security is paramount, the persistent reliance on passwords remains a significant vulnerability for enterprises globally. FIDO 2.0 emerges as a timely solution, reimagining credential authorization using available technologies.

Legacy credential systems, rooted in the Internet 1.0 era, increasingly expose organisations to sophisticated AI-backed cyber threats. The 15% increase in attacks against Indian organisations, now averaging 2,138 attempts per week, can largely be attributed to these poorly secured credentials. As companies and industries continue to thrive throughout India and the region, security teams benefit from implementing new credential approaches, such as FIDO 2.0 stands from the very implementation of their networks.

Despite CISOs and cybersecurity practitioners’ efforts in network security, advanced authentication implementation, and staff training on cyber hygiene, it still only takes a single breach to bring operations to a halt.

Changing the credentials status quo

Despite diverse authentication methods, the prevalent use of alphanumeric codes for logins continues to compromise organisational security.

Recent years have particularly highlighted these faults in the Asia Pacific region. This has resulted in:

This goes beyond the financial and personal burden put on people as they try to understand if their information is compromised.

In the past, these attacks were successfully conducted by identifying a vulnerability within a system and exploiting it using relevant tactics. However, today companies face two main threats, phishing attacks and device compromise.

Device compromise

Organisations permitting remote work or personal device use face an additional security layer– unfamiliar devices.

IT operators have always struggled to identify and approve all devices on a network– again relying on usernames, passwords, and perhaps some other alphanumeric authentication technique. The danger lies in the possibility that these two-factor authentication methods may also be compromised alongside user credentials.

Adding to the compilation, single sign-on has grown in popularity, but if a user is compromised, so too are their profiles created across all the tools that they have given access to the single point. Even with examples of organisational approved SSO with a secure environment, no matter how secure those APIs and authentications are, if the front door is still secured with a username, password, and alphanumeric authentication then the risk is still ever-present

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Three Innovative Ways for CIOs to Enhance the Customer Experience in Modern Business

Over the last few decades, innovative technologies have changed the future of business dynamics. Therefore, every industry uses the latest technologies to move forward, and CIOs are responsible for driving such technological changes within organizations. According to Globe Research, it has been witnessed that more than 27.7% of digital transformation for better customer experience (CX) initiates are sponsored or owned by CIOs, which indicates the rapid change in customer expectations.

For a better understanding and deployment of innovative digital transformation, CIOs need to work closely with other C-suites and department managers to enhance the customer experience and gain a competitive advantage in this digitized world.

Innovate the Customer Journey

With the recent development of technologies, companies are accelerating their business to attract innovative services and retain customers looking for a better-personalized experience, fast and secure applications, or software. Further, the new applications enable dynamic online ordering operations, such as same-day delivery or pickup, which helps customers interact with the organizations instantly.

For a better understanding of the applications or software, CIOs and business leaders can come up with an entire customer journey strategy involving the front end and the back end, making sure the circle is completely connected. Let’s consider the example of Zara, a multinational fashion company that announced that they are closing their 1200 stores across the USA and will start investing in developing an integrated omnichannel journey that will cost more than $3.1 million. This revolutionary change will help e-commerce, the supply chain industry, software development companies, and inventory management companies take innovative steps and make proactive approaches to problems and opportunities to identify resolutions.

Digital transformation, especially to upgrade the customer experience, is a journey; therefore, CIOs must be ready to restructure their strategies numerous times so that they fit their business objectives and goals. However, to embrace such change, CIOs are required to collaborate with every business leader and employee in the organization to increase the speed of executing data strategies, improve the customer experience, and conduct continuous reassessment of the change management process.

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Leading Effective Data Governance: Contribution of Chief Data Officer

In a highly regulated business environment, it is a challenging task for IT organizations to manage data-related risks and compliance issues. Despite investing in the data value chain, C-suites often do not recognize the value of a robust data governance framework, eventually leading to a lack of data governance in organizations.

Therefore, a well-defined data governance framework is needed to help in risk management and ensure that the organization can fulfill the demands of compliance with regulations, along with the state and legal requirements on data management.

To create a well-designed data governance framework, an IT organization needs a governance team that includes the Chief Data Officer (CDO), the data management team, and other IT executives. Together, they work to create policies and standards for governance, implementing, and enforcing the data governance framework in their organization.

However, to keep pace with this digital transformation, this article can be an ideal one-stop shop for CDOs, as they can follow these four principles for creating a valued data governance framework and grasp the future of data governance frameworks.

The Rise of the Chief Data Officer (CDO)

Data has become an invaluable asset; therefore, organizations need a C-level executive to set the company’s wide data strategy to remain competitive.

In this regard, the responsibility and role of the chief data officers (CDOs) were established in 2002. However, it has grown remarkably in recent years, and organizations are still trying to figure out the best integration of this position into the existing structure.

A CDO is responsible for managing an organization’s data strategy by ensuring data quality and driving business processes through data analytics and governance; furthermore, they are responsible for data repositories, pipelines, and tools related to data privacy and security to make sure that the data governance framework is implemented properly.

The Four Principles of Data Governance Frameworks

The foundation of a robust data governance framework stands on four essential principles that help CDOs deeply understand the effectiveness of data management and the use of data across different departments in the organization. These principles are pillars that ensure that the data is accurate, protected, and can be used in compliance with regulations and laws.

C-suites should accept the changes and train themselves through external entities, such as academic institutions, technology vendors, and consulting firms, which will aid them in bringing new perspectives and specialized knowledge while developing a data governance framework.

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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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Beyond Intelligence: The Next Wave of Business Applications

In today’s competitive world, the various sectors are at a crossroads. Companies following traditional approaches are struggling to keep pace with the fast pace of digital transformation.

So, the pace of the ongoing digital transformation demands a shift in paradigm with the help of intelligent applications (I-apps), which imbue the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate tasks, get insights, and drive better decision-making that has the potential to reshape the future of various sectors.

Why Are Intelligent Apps Important for Business?

Intelligent apps are capable of continually learning the environmental, behavioral, and emotional patterns of users while completing the tasks assigned to them.  The applications are meant to forecast your requirements and present them as relevant information, ideas, or recommendations using predictive analysis, prescriptive analysis, operational vision, and product insights. Chatbots, virtual assistants, and recommendation engines on e-commerce sites are just a few examples of intelligent applications.

Let’s consider an example of Slack, a popular collaboration application that provides channels for team communication, file sharing, and connections with other productivity apps.

How Do Intelligent Apps Work?

Intelligent applications are not just clever software; they are built on a foundation of powerful technologies that enable their unique capabilities by empowering software developers to create intelligent apps that automate tasks, analyze data, and predict outcomes. Let’s take a quick glimpse into the mechanics behind how this application works:

AI and ML Technologies

Intelligent apps lie in AI and ML, as these technologies enable apps to process vast amounts of data, learn patterns, make predictions, and adapt their behavior intelligently.

Low-code and No-code Platforms

Democratizing app development, these platforms allow software developers with varying skill levels to create intelligent apps without extensive coding knowledge. These platforms provide visual interfaces, pre-built components, and drag-and-drop functionalities, making intelligent AI-powered app development more accessible.

Data Integration

Intelligent applications need seamless integration with various data sources, including databases, cloud platforms, and IoT devices, to make intelligent decisions and provide personalized experiences.

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AITech Interview with Ricardo Buranello, Senior VP at Telit Cinterion

What would be your valuable advice for budding entrepreneurs and industry professionals?

To budding entrepreneurs and industry professionals, I offer this valuable advice: place a profound emphasis on your customers. Cultivate an obsession with understanding them on a deep level. Dive into the intricacies of their challenges, and endeavor to craft solutions that precisely address these issues.

An important lesson to remember is to avoid the common pitfall of creating solutions in search of problems. This sounds funny but it is surprisingly common. Instead, start by identifying genuine problems within the market. Let these authentic needs guide your innovation, ensuring that your efforts are purpose-driven and aligned with real-world demands.

By prioritizing your customers’ needs, adopting a problem-first approach and consistently refining your offerings based on feedback, you can forge a path to success that is both impactful and sustainable.

Could you elaborate on the key strategies or actions you have implemented or plan to implement?

Regarding our key strategies and actions, we’re actively expanding our team in both research and development, as well as in customer-facing roles. This growth is instrumental in enhancing our capabilities and ensuring effective support for our clients.

A pivotal focus is on the introduction of comprehensive end-to-end solutions. These solutions are strategically designed to empower customers to swiftly achieve results using our deviceWISE platform. By streamlining the adoption process, we’re enabling clients to accelerate their journey towards IoT integration and maximize the benefits of our technology.

Furthermore, we’re deeply committed to harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a transformative force for industrial productivity. Our investment in AI technology underscores our belief in its capacity to revolutionize operations and enhance efficiency in the industrial landscape. This commitment drives us to develop and deliver unique AI-driven products that stand at the forefront of innovation.

A recent milestone includes the launch of our “connected machine offer.” This pioneering solution empowers machine builders with a comprehensive turnkey package for delivering connected machines. This offering opens doors for machines-as-a-service models, remote support capabilities and an array of additional functionalities, thereby enabling our clients to stay ahead in the competitive market.

In essence, our strategies encompass team expansion, holistic end-to-end solutions, AI integration and innovative product launches.

Please share your source of inspiration for exploring various facets of technology.

My source of inspiration for exploring various facets of technology stems from a profound curiosity about the boundless possibilities that technology offers to reshape and elevate our world. The rapid evolution of technology has the potential to revolutionize industries, enhance human experiences, and solve complex challenges.

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Calculating the True Cost of IT Outages and Downtime

In response to rapidly changing workplace needs, many companies launched into scaling up their tech stacks and providing employees with new tools that promised greater efficiency, improved productivity, and a better digital experience. Research shows, however, that 40% of employees and 44% of executives believe that employees are either somewhat or significantly over-provisioned by tech at work. As a result, workplaces now are grappling with an abundance of tools that were poorly matched both to employees’ needs and to specific workplace challenges.

The underlying disconnect is this: companies focused too much on providing new equipment to teams in an attempt to make broad, sweeping improvements in productivity or to accelerate business transformations. In turn, they fell short of providing the right equipment to the right employee at the right time.

Determine benchmarks to prepare for scaling.

Organizations looking to scale and grow need clear markers of success long before they level up their investment in IT systems to prevent too large of an investment or too little preparation. Setting benchmarks is essential. Companies can achieve this step by comparing historical trends based on data instead of guesswork. This must happen alongside real-time data for a full picture of the digital employee experience (that is, each employee’s experience with the tech stack allocated to them—whether good or bad).

Context around certain IT moves and decisions, as well as the impact of those moves on workplace productivity and performance, is crucial for enabling strategic planning. For instance, it’s possible to parcel data into meaningful, informative sets based on the workplace environment (hybrid or remote), the employee experience with the digital tools they need for their roles, and the systems used.

Benchmarks will be critical for growth planning, including any M&A plans on the docket, enterprise-wide system integrations (such as EMR rollouts for healthcare organizations), or widespread software updates. Armed with easily-digestible benchmark data, IT teams can sort out any issues ahead of an influx of talent, system mergers, and digital transformation projects.

In these scenarios, IT leaders can emerge as true business heroes, instead of the old days when the “IT hero” was associated with reactively saving a company from extended downtime. The IT executives’ ability to tie downtime, latency, and systems issues (and more) to the business’s bottom line—based on data-informed calculations—will elevate strategic planning. The monetary value of an organization’s IT health is rapidly increasing as companies look to eliminate redundancies, streamline workflows, and create better digital employee experiences. Up until now, measuring the baseline of IT health—and tying that baseline to a financial tally—has been cumbersome and inefficient. Now, IT leaders can determine the issues affecting productivity through a single dashboard of a digital experience platform, enabling companies to quickly measure the impact of software, hardware, and network issues on workplace productivity, in turn immediately remedying any issues.

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