Driving change with technology: An Interview with RedCloud’s New Chief Technology Officer, Ankur Modi

We recently had the chance to sit down with our new Chief Technology Officer, Ankur Modi, to discuss his vision for driving change with technology. Ankur brings an impressive background in all things tech, having spent 15 years working with industry giants such as Meta and Amazon.

At Meta, Ankur led the Oversight Platforms for user and AI experiences across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Threads. At Amazon, he was part of the Commerce Experience Leadership team for subscriptions, payments, and user growth during the Covid pandemic. Ankur also founded StatusToday, an AI-powered analytics platform recognized among the UK’s hottest AI companies and advised the UK Parliament on AI.

Ankur leads a cross-functional team of 150 experts, overseeing both product and engineering functions. His role involves driving the development and execution of the company’s technology strategy and ensuring that RedCloud’s products deliver innovative solutions aligned with customer needs and business growth

Looking towards the first 100 days at RedCloud, we explore Ankur’s thoughts on open commerce, AI, and his plans for the future of RedCloud’s technology. Read on for a dive into Ankur’s insights (Replies have been lightly edited for clarity).

First of all, what was your initial impression of open commerce as a concept when you first joined the team?

Open commerce is a complex concept that took me a moment to grasp fully, but with my 15 years of experience in e-commerce and other related industries, I recognize its immense potential. It’s a powerful concept that allows businesses to work together on an equitable platform without unfavorable negotiations. This gives brands, distributors, and retailers the freedom to choose their partners, breaking away from monopolies and reducing reliance on global supply chains, which improves sustainability and creates a circular economy in the B2B sector.

RedCloud can facilitate this transformation by moving beyond manual interactions like WhatsApp and phone calls. By bringing the sophistication of consumer e-commerce to B2B, we could save billions for businesses and tap into a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity. I’m excited about our efforts and believe technology is the right solution to meet this need.

As RedCloud’s CTO, what are your key priorities for the near future?

As RedCloud’s CTO, I have three main priorities. First, I’m focusing on creating a robust performance culture by improving roles, team structures, and management across our technology organization. Second, I aim to develop coherent strategies for our products, expand into new markets, and build a data-driven culture with effective KPIs and metrics to improve customer experience.

Third, I’m focused on the broader industry, aiming to tell our story to the world and influence other companies to join us on this journey. By sharing our data and AI strategies and partnering with others, we can demonstrate how technology should behave in an e-commerce environment, which we call Commerce 2.0. It’s about getting more people to do the things we believe are right, not just telling the world we’re doing something great.

Most e-commerce platforms, like Jumia in Africa or Amazon in the US, aim to control the entire supply chain. However, RedCloud’s Open Commerce technology focuses on opening the supply chain. How do you see technology enabling this, and how does our model compare to the centralized one?

The early days of e-commerce saw centralized players like Amazon and Walmart dominate because core platform technology capabilities didn’t exist. While this model worked well for providing consumers with the best retail catalog, the growing complexity of the distribution supply chain has led to issues like fake or mislabeled inventory, a problem worsened by AI.

In contrast, RedCloud’s model supports the existing B2B supply chain without centralized control, which often leads to price extortion, exploitation, and favoritism, ultimately harming everyone in the ecosystem. Our approach focuses on maximizing value rather than profit at all costs, taking a small commission for enabling trade between parties. Although our model is more challenging and requires more resources, as we don’t control the ecosystem, it has the potential to be massive and drive better results overall. Our growth has been several hundred percent every year for the last few years, and I don’t think that will stop.

Most of RedCloud’s growth comes from emerging markets, many of which have unique characteristics. How does that inform our technology strategy, knowing that while some innovative technologies are being adopted in these markets, they also lack some basic infrastructures?

Emerging markets are unique and require a different approach than developed markets. Currently, we have two main strategies: building emerging markets and supporting developed markets. In emerging markets, innovation is readily adopted, but some foundational infrastructures may be lacking. This can be an advantage, as we can be nimble and work with mobile technology and cloud infrastructure, creating opportunities for new, innovative products.

Our focus on emerging markets enables a lot more growth because we don’t do things the traditional way. This is key for us because emerging markets are growing; they were growing even during the pandemic, and anything that helps their growth will win, and that’s what we do. 

We’ve had success in emerging markets because the adoption of technology is high, but we must remain focused on building simple, easy-to-use, yet powerful technology while prioritizing relationships. Our tech must also consider limitations like limited data and ensure our products can be used in spite of those limitations, such as being quick to load and having reduced data consumption. Our team has been phenomenal at achieving this while navigating the unique challenges and opportunities in emerging markets, and I’m excited for the future!

Given that AI is the hottest technology right now and most AI implementations are closed source, how do you see AI integrating into Open Commerce technology in a way that aligns with our vision without reverting to a closed model?

At RedCloud, we’re integrating AI into Open Commerce through two main paths. First, we’re enhancing user experiences for our distributors, retailers, and brands, enabling them to do more and increase their trade on our platform. Second, we’re investing in future AI innovations to build new capabilities for the next generation of open commerce experiences. This is complex and requires collaborating with companies offering complementary capabilities in cloud hosting, hardware resources, and data processing while also building proprietary capabilities unique to RedCloud.

Our AI innovation focuses on three core areas: discovery, intelligence, and changing the way people trade. We’re using AI to enable better discovery of products, retailers, and brands, using data generated from each trade to match people, recommend products, and provide relevant information. We’re also providing market intelligence to businesses at each level to help them operate more effectively. The third and most challenging part is exploring how AI can change the way people trade, such as through conversational commerce. These innovations will dramatically affect our growth positively, and we’re committed to building them in a way that doesn’t create an unfair advantage for any one business.

Finally, what upcoming technology are you most excited about its potential impact?

I’m most excited about the potential impact of generative AI, especially in emerging markets. It presents an opportunity for these markets to skip technology cycles and jump ahead, similar to what happened with smartphones and social media. Generative AI can empower individuals in emerging markets to perform at a superhuman level in various aspects of commerce, bringing the advantage of an established industry and ecosystem to everyone worldwide as long as they have access to the technology.

Generative AI has the potential to unlock trade and commerce for people in emerging markets, allowing them to amplify their efforts and find what they need without relying on expensive experts. This technology could be game-changing for emerging markets, and its impact will likely be much more significant there than in developed ones.

With AI predicted to affect nearly every aspect of the supply chain by 2030, it is crucial that consumer brands and other stakeholders across the global value chain identify and adopt AI-first solutions that provide real-time visibility across the supply chain, generate data-driven AI-powered suggestions and enable implementation at scale with just a few clicks. 

Visit www.redcloudtechnology.com/demo to see how RedCloud’s AI-powered Open Commerce Platform makes this possible and learn how Open Commerce is enabling the world’s largest consumer goods brands to build more resilient supply chains and unlock sustainable growth.