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A Chief Product Officer’s Journey in AI Innovation With Claudia Chandra

Ultimately, what customers demand from a product is paramount

The journey of a Chief Product Officer (CPO) in AI innovation is a dynamic quest to leverage cutting-edge technologies for product development and organizational growth. CPOs lead their companies in exploring AI solutions to enhance products, streamline processes, and unlock new opportunities. This journey involves navigating technology, market demands, and user needs while fostering a culture of innovation. It’s marked by adaptation, experimentation, and a commitment to pushing boundaries.

This week, we’re privileged to delve into the remarkable journey of Claudia Chandra, a seasoned leader in enterprise cloud and data management who is the Former Chief Product Officer at Rockwell Automation. With over 25 years of experience shaping product strategies and driving innovation, Claudia brings a wealth of insights into the dynamic landscape of AI and product development. Her extensive career spans leadership positions at industry giants like Oracle Cloud and Informatica, where she led pivotal initiatives in data services and product management, influencing the trajectory of enterprise technology. Claudia’s journey, enriched by diverse experiences in startups, engineering, and academia, provides invaluable lessons for aspiring product leaders navigating the complexities of today’s digital transformation. Join us as we explore Claudia’s journey, gaining deeper insights into the evolving role of Chief Product Officers in shaping the future of AI innovation.

In the interview, Claudia discusses the integration of AI in product management throughout her career. She emphasizes AI’s role in enhancing customer experiences, particularly through self-service support and personalized recommendations. Claudia stresses the importance of understanding diverse customer segments and industry verticals for effective product tailoring. She also highlights the evolving landscape of product management, advocating for continuous upskilling in emerging technologies and compliance requirements.

AIM: How did your career trajectory lead you to become the Chief Product Officer, and what does that role entail in terms of being at the center of innovation within the organization?

“Throughout my career, AI played a recurring role.”

Claudia Chandra: I started out with a background in computer science engineering, specializing in software engineering and AI, specifically applying AI to software maintenance. That’s where my focus lay. Initially, I began my career in the engineering domain, landing my first job after school at Motorola. There, I applied AI to configure software for GSM cellular base stations and optimized handover boundaries for the same stations.

My journey took a turn when I joined Informix, a shift towards product management relatively early in my career. I made this move because I was drawn to defining products, shaping business strategy rather than just coding. This transition marked a pivotal moment for me.

Throughout my career, AI played a recurring role. Even during my time at Informix, AI was utilized for optimizing indexing strategies and data models within data warehouses. There were quieter periods, but around 2014, while at Informatica, I spearheaded a data security intelligence product. Here, AI was pivotal in detecting anomalous user behaviors around accessing sensitive data and mitigating risks associated with it across the enterprise.

After departing from Informatica to join Oracle, I immersed myself in services leveraging Oracle JET to cloud, serving as the backbone for various AI services. Additionally, AI found its way into Fusion Applications, exemplifying its versatility in diverse contexts.

Leading projects in fixed-price maintenance management systems, I optimized work orders, tasks, inventory routes, and maintenance processes using AI. Furthermore, we incorporated AI and edge analytics into industrial automation, showcasing the breadth of AI applications within both data infrastructure and practical implementations.

AIM: As an AI innovator and Chief Product Officer in today’s contemporary business setting, what does it mean for you to continually evolve? What specific roles and responsibilities do you undertake to drive innovation and product development in alignment with the latest technological advancements and market trends?

“Regardless of specific duties, a CPO must represent both the product and bridge the gap between technology and the customer.”

Claudia Chandra: Chief Product Officers (CPOs) in various companies have diverse responsibilities. In some organizations, a CPO oversees engineering, product design, and sometimes product marketing. Alternatively, they may focus solely on product management or strategic initiatives. This spectrum of responsibilities varies across companies.

Regardless of specific duties, a CPO must represent both the product and bridge the gap between technology and the customer. Externally, they serve as the face of the customer, ensuring their needs are understood and addressed. Internally, they navigate the intersections of business, product, and technology, staying abreast of evolving industry, customer, and technology trends over time.

AIM: What is the role of a Chief Product Officer in terms of exploitation, and how does it compare to other positions within the organization?

“The role of a product leader has evolved over time.”

Claudia Chandra: The role of a product leader has evolved over time. Product management has seen significant refinement in approaches, adapting to the demands influenced by factors such as team dynamics, company size, and product maturity. These factors impact the balance of innovation within product management.

The role of a product leader has evolved alongside these changes. With the transition from on-premises to the cloud, including SaaS and PaaS offerings, there’s increased transparency into how customers utilize products. This wealth of information enables product leaders to track customer usage more effectively and gather valuable intelligence and feedback. Armed with this information, product leaders can drive product evolution and leverage various functions such as customer support, sales, and others to enhance customer retention and sales agility.

Overall, these developments have provided product leaders with additional tools and opportunities to expand and refine their roles, ultimately driving innovation and better serving customer needs.

AIM: How does the diverse range of brands using your products across various industries impact your role as Chief Product Officer? With the evolution of AI and the emergence of Gen AI, how do you enable your team to better serve clients and enhance their brands?

“AI plays a significant role in enabling more self-service support for customers who prefer such a nature of product interaction.”

Claudia Chandra: In terms of addressing different customer segments, I believe there are various ways to segment customers, one of which is by size. For example, there are SMES enterprises, each with distinct demands on your product and how they purchase it. Smaller customers typically lean towards self-service in terms of both purchasing and product expectations, whereas larger enterprises tend to have more intricate purchasing processes involving multiple stakeholders and often require in-person or premium support from your technical, sales, and customer success teams.

Due to these differences, different approaches are needed to provide tailored services and capabilities as part of the product. AI plays a significant role in enabling more self-service support for customers who prefer such a nature of product interaction.

From an industry verticalization perspective, different industries demand varying levels of capabilities. Some industries may be more hesitant in adopting new technologies like cloud or AI and may require more human review rather than full automation. For example, sectors like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences often have stricter regulations and may prefer more human involvement in decision-making processes. Similarly, financial services may also have more stringent processes and requirements regarding automation and AI recommendations.

AIM: How has the evolution of AI fundamentally changed product management practices, particularly with the emergence of Gen AI and shifts from digitization to mobile apps, cloud-first approaches, and the demand for AI-driven applications? How has this impacted your role as a product manager?

“Ultimately, what customers demand from a product is paramount.”

Claudia Chandra: Ultimately, what customers demand from a product is paramount. The basic expectation from products is clear: customers anticipate being able to interact with the product using natural, structured steps. Furthermore, they expect more intelligent support within the product itself, minimizing the need for additional human support or manual interventions. Customers also seek increased intelligence, insights, automation, and personalization within the product experience. This includes tailored recommendations based on prior purchase behaviors, browsing history, and favorites. These are now considered essential features, and meeting these expectations is imperative in today’s market.

AIM: What advice do you have for aspiring product managers aiming for the role of Chief Product Officer amidst continuous evolution? How do you foresee this role evolving with the rise of intelligent software? And what skills should newcomers in product management focus on as the profession progresses?

“It’s not just about technologies; it also involves understanding various compliance requirements, rules, and regulations in different countries.”

Claudia Chandra: I am very passionate about product management. As a PM, you get to understand the entire product and touch on almost every single function required to define the product, understand the market, potentially sell it through all channels, and navigate the ecosystem. All of these aspects are integral to the role of a PM. So, I always advocate for pursuing a career in product management for those interested in its future prospects.

I do feel that in terms of the skills needed for the future, there’s a lot to consider. Initially, understanding evolving technologies like AI, Blockchain, etc., is crucial to incorporating them into products effectively. However, it’s not just about technologies; it also involves understanding various compliance requirements, rules, and regulations in different countries. Moreover, knowing how to ethically integrate AI into products and ensuring trusted insights and data privacy are also essential aspects. These are ongoing considerations that require continuous upskilling, not just in product and technology but also in understanding the surrounding environments, geopolitical dynamics and the rules and regulations around them.

Picture of Anshika Mathews
Anshika Mathews
Anshika is an Associate Research Analyst working for the AIM Leaders Council. She holds a keen interest in technology and related policy-making and its impact on society. She can be reached at anshika.mathews@aimresearch.co
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