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Five9 Chooses Millennial to Lead Product Charge
Five9 this week announced that it has expanded its management team with the appointment of Anand Chandrasekaran, formerly with Facebook, as executive vice president of product management.
You could call the move a “re-expansion.” Until a year ago, when he joined Avaya to lead its cloud business, Gaurav Passi had served as Five9’s executive vice president of products and technology. Five9 CEO Rowan Trollope thought long and hard about the kind of resource he wanted to help lead the company into the future, and the Chandrasekaran selection is the culmination of that process.
I mention in my title that Chandrasekaran is a millennial, one of the earliest. Born in 1978, his professional history does NOT include having lived through the federal government's breakup of the Bell System (I, on the other hand, am guilty as charged). Instead, as he describes on his Linkedin profile, he has “worked on/led six products globally with over 10M active users across commerce, messaging, financial services & content discovery with one app over 1 billion users and two others over 50M.” These accomplishments have come in serving as director of platform for Messenger at Facebook and chief product officer at both Snapdeal, one of India's earliest e-commerce leaders, and Bharti Airtel, the third-largest mobile operator in India, among other positions.
Having read his LinkedIn profile, I wondered how Chandrasekaran’s background would impact his approach to his role at Five9. Given Monday was his first day, Chandrasekaran was understandably busy in meetings. In true millennial style, however, he took the time to respond, via Slack, to three questions I posed over email.
What parts of your experience to date do you think best prepare you for the role at Five9?
Chandrasekaran highlighted three experiences:
- Aeroprise, “where I navigated changes in the customer care industry.” Chandrasekaran co-founded Aeroprise in 2001; BMC Software acquired the company in 2011. With support for all mobile devices, the solution, now known as BMC Mobility for IT Service Management, helps businesses reduce IT support costs with higher staff productivity, improve customer service with field-based updates, and make better decisions with real-time information.
- Snapdeal and other consumer companies, “where I've personally lived the journey of building a service-oriented brand.”
- Messenger Platform at Facebook, “where I led the integrations into customer care platforms to have agent consoles directly respond to issues that consumers message them about.”
Messaging has been on the cusp of importance in customer care for two to three years. Given your experience with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, what are your thoughts on the role of messaging in customer care over the next few years?
The biggest role of messaging in customer care in the next few years will be (person-to-person (P2P) behaviors moving to person-to-business (P2B) engagements, Chandrasekaran posits. “For example, we know the difference between text (if you are a couple of minutes late) or a call (if you will be 30 minutes late) when you are communicating with another individual. P2B communications will inherit these sensitivities during omnichannel communication and then operate these at scale across the contact center.”
Investing in India, and working with startups there, has been a key activity for you over the past seven years. Do you see any connections between what you’ve been doing in India and your future plans for Five9’s portfolio?
“I've been surprised by how mobile-first the experiences are in Asia. Many consumers have leapfrogged desktop entirely. The other part is a reminder of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) being applied in a vertical sense, to solve industry-specific problems. AI is algorithms + data + speed of iteration... and the level of data that is generated in the contact center offers a rich starting point to build great products over this layer,” Chandrasekaran responded.
As I’ve observed more traditional enterprise communications companies looking for new product leaders, the fact that someone has “cloud” experience has often been enough. For the born-in-the-cloud company he leads, CEO Trollope needed more -- a leader who would help take Five9 from the $300 million in revenue firm it is today to a billion-dollar company. Mobility, e-commerce, messaging and AI are the next coins of the product realm and Chandrasekaran seems well-versed in each. I look forward to watching how Chandrasekaran applies his talents at Five9.