Interview with Rajani Ramanathan — Cere’s Enterprise Strategy Advisor

After working with Salesforce for over 14 years, helping the company grow from a start-up into a worldwide renowned business in her last role as Chief Operating Officer (Products & Technology), Rajani Ramanathan now works with several promising technology companies, amongst which Cere Network.

– Hi Rajani, thanks so much for taking the time to have this interview!

After spending over 25 years in the Bay Area we can call you a veteran. Share with us what the journey has been like for you and what have been the most impactful technology advancements that you were excited about?

In the past three decades, we have seen a staggering amount of technological advancements. For example, we have seen life-altering changes such as the internet and smartphones. The internet redefined how we search for and share information with each other, breaking down the communication barriers. Mobile devices have made it even easier to consume information at a personal level, transforming a luxury product into an everyday essential item. On the enterprise front, I was fortunate to join Salesforce when we were still a start-up and got a front-row seat to how cloud computing changed the workplace.

I left Salesforce a few years ago because I wanted to get back into the startup environment and be involved in the creative process of working with disruptive emerging technologies. We are seeing a lot of industries being redefined due to IoT, AI, digital twins, and more recently blockchain to name a few technologies that are creating waves in the last few years. We are still only scratching the surface when it comes to tapping into the potential of applications built on blockchain infrastructure. At Cere, I am excited to be exploring the various opportunities ahead of us with blockchain.

Cere is a Decentralized Data Cloud platform backed by Binance Labs. By adding more optimization, increased user privacy, and data interoperability, it positions itself as the improved Snowflake. Its cross-chain compatibility with networks like Binance Smart Chain, Polkadot, Cosmos, Ethereum, and others allows it the unique position to bridge the biggest enterprise companies with the fastest-growing decentralized ecosystems.

– What insights can you give on Cere and it’s Decentralized Data Cloud from your expertise in CRM systems and working with enterprises?

Your traditional enterprise software companies tend to have monolithic data centers and services that are highly centralized. You are constrained to adhere to data silos when enterprises are building new products or services. Instead, Cere’s service-oriented architecture approach, it gives you the flexibility to provide microservices with self-contained hardware and software components to power business applications which can give customers cost-effective solutions, highly targeted, and outcome-driven actionable insights that will, in turn, drive greater adoption for them.

The advantage of blockchain-based offerings like Cere is that it lets you seamlessly work across multiple data sources including from third-party vendors and partners and create a trusted network that is not only designed and optimized for individual customer privacy and customization but also offers fully encrypted and tamper-proof data storage.

A Cere advisory goes beyond your typical advisory roles. By working closely with industry titans, the Cere team can continuously tweak its proposition towards enterprise clients.

– What’s it been like to work together with the Cere team as an advisor so closely for the past 18 months?

The Cere team consists of highly seasoned serial entrepreneurs. While I share with them my expertise from the enterprise software world, it has also been a highly educative engagement for me learning from their varied experiences.

I am especially impressed with their level of operational maturity even though the company is in its early days. The team has put together a solid foundation of processes and tools to support them, this in turn ensures an ability to scale quickly to meet the needs and requirements of the Fortune 500 companies with whom we are currently engaged. The multi-faceted skills and experiences of the leadership team are very evident in pretty much every action being taken to acquire customers and enhance the technology.

One of the distinctive features of Cere is its Decentralized Data Clouds (DDC). Cere aims to bring a more ethical, agile, and interoperable way of managing customer data.

– How important do you think Cere’s core values — ethical, agile and interoperable data — will be in the future for these enterprises?

In my mind, one of the key differentiators that made Salesforce successful was their V2MOM process which is a highly effective tool to drive clarity and focus on the most important priorities for the company. I was very happy to work with the Cere team to establish this playbook including well-defined values right out of the gate. While you might take it for granted that values like “ethical” and “agile” are inherently understood, it is important to spell it out, so we build practices that embrace these values even in the midst of making hard decisions. Prioritizing it helps us ensure customer success above all else.

Our focus on “interoperable” reflects the big lacunae we are filling that exists with a lot of current enterprise solutions. The data silos created by the software giants pose huge barriers to collaboration and integration across these federated data sources. Cere’s cross-chain compatibility with all major blockchains puts Cere in a unique position to bridge enterprise companies with the fastest-growing decentralized ecosystems, allowing for more efficient collaboration, better data agility, smarter integrations, while still providing more privacy and ownership to end-users.

– Lastly, what are you focused on during these months of lockdown and what advice can you share with all companies?

There is a fair amount of fatigue setting in for sure with this extended social distancing period but I have also looked upon it as a rare opportunity that gave us time for further self-reflection and mindfulness. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, from “The Art of War”, recognize that chaos presents an opportunity for innovation.

While of course, it is not always easy adjusting to the new ways in which we interact and work together, I think on the positive side, we are re-imagining some of the fundamental ways where we can help our customers provide high-value services with minimal or no in-person interaction. Hence we have to make our products and services much more intuitive and easy for self-service. You can assure customers that the company’s existing value propositions will remain the same, but communicate with them about what innovations have arisen as a result of having to deal with the ongoing pandemic and find out if it serves their needs better now.

This wraps up our second ecosystem interview blog with Cere ecosystem participants.