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AiThority Interview with Ganesh Shankar, CEO and Co-founder at Responsive (formerly RFPIO)

AiThority Interview with Ganesh Shankar, CEO and Co-founder at RFPIO

Hi, Ganesh. Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start with Responsive.

In my roles prior to starting Responsive (formerly RFPIO), I spent 20 to 30 percent of my time responding to RFPs. That’s a significant amount to commit to what is often repetitive work that takes away from primary tasks. Not to mention, I was just one of many individuals and teams experiencing this issue across the company, which only compounded the time and i********* needed.

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It became clear to me, (AJ) Sunder (Responsive CIO and Chief Product Officer), and Sankar (Lagudu, Responsive COO), that the entire process was far too inefficient and time-consuming. There needed to be a better solution to overall project management — capturing and addressing redundancies, and simplifying the experience.

What is Responsive and what are your core offerings?

Responsive provides strategic response management software and solutions, including the industry’s first AI-enabled RFP software, trusted by some of the world’s smartest companies to manage responses to RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, security questionnaires and DDQs.

Our solution, with its robust and bidirectional integrations and open API, allows teams to better connect their people and improve content quality and accessibility — enabling collaboration without boundaries, which is one of the major hurdles in response project management.

You serve some of the biggest global customer-centric organizations. Could you tell us about a unique use case scenario that highlights your agility and quality of service?

I think the proof is in the time savings, thanks to our ability to help democratize knowledge across employees and teams.That means less time searching for answers and more time focusing on solutions. Microsoft, for example, is a global company with employees and teams spread around the world, using multiple languages and content types. They needed a scalable solution that could accommodate such a vast network and integrate into their existing tech stack.

After the first year-and-a-half with Responsive, more than 7,000 Microsoft users accessed the platform to leverage the managed Content Library of over 36,000 ready-made responses for inbound requests and questionnaires, saving an estimated $2.4 million. A few years later, that number has grown to 13,000 unique users across the company, saving an estimated 21,000 hours that otherwise would have been spent re-creating the wheel.

How do you distinguish sales tech stacks from the existing martech stacks? What business titles benefit the most from deploying Responsive?

We don’t approach our application from one specific stack or team to another. Rather, we’re interested in helping the collective response management market.That includes all of the teams across business functions that are on the frontlines communicating to the outside world. Each one of these, from sales to marketing to finance, needs to be compliant, consistent and aligned with one another.

With that in mind, our solution is deployed and used by Chief Revenue Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Information Officers, and Chief Financial Officers, who are all invested in w****** various response requests and submitting questionnaires which ultimately results in increased revenue.

Please tell us more about RFPIO University and the training offered to the signees.

RFPIO University is a portal for a one-stop learning experience of RFPIO best practices, offering online training to help proposal managers and teams — as well as sales and presales responders — improve their response skills through Responsive.

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The on-demand courses allow for flexible training to establish foundational, career-building, and marketable Responsive skills.

We see the RFPIO University as a valuable tool to further improve the time savings and efficiencies for internal employees using our platform, which ultimately results in increased revenue.

AI is changing the way businesses operate. How do you leverage AI in your organization?

You’ll hear this from several of us at Responsive, but the key to effectively leveraging AI in the enterprise is not to replace, but assist. We’ve designed our systems to collaborate with our experts, who stay in the loop for reviews, and oversee and guide the AI.

What’s the future of AI-assisted RFPs and other responses for marketing, sales and customer service departments?

The goal is for AI to be an invisible assistant for marketers, sales team members, customer service departments, and more. We don’t see it as intrusive or disruptive; rather, it’s a partner helping streamline workflows and delivering insights or suggestions so less time is spent doing more mundane tasks and more time is focused on higher-level activities like strategy.

How can AI bring Response Management initiatives closer to revenue generation goals?

In addition to the time savings, the AI-assisted features that we’ve built, and that have always been a part of our DNA, have demonstrated improved response and bid quality and increased win r****. Increasing efficiency allows teams to not only produce more responses, but it gives experts more time to review, fine-tune, and improve the overall quality of both the information that the AI models are trained on and the responses that are ultimately used.

How important is it for businesses to automate RFPs using AI and RPA?

I think it’s less about the importance and more a question of “Why wouldn’t you?”

The time savings, quantity and quality, and the additional opportunities our customers are able to respond to and deliver by using our AI-leveraging platform is clear. By automating some of these business functions, you not only reduce the amount of time an employee needs to spend drafting something that already exists in a disconnected location, you improve your business’s bottom line by having employees concentrate on more important tasks and secure additional customers thanks to higher quality responses.

Any advice to every CEO or CIO looking to invest in AI-powered RFP solutions:

First and foremost, don’t get carried away. There is a lot of noise out there regarding AI at the moment. Everyone is talking about it. It’s critical to take a step back and ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?”

Is it to improve revenue, cut costs, gain greater efficiencies, or something else? 

Then, make sure there is alignment around that goal across your key executives, decision-makers, and teams. Taking that inside-out approach will ensure you don’t just reach for AI tools and technologies because they’re trendy; you’re doing it because they provide value for the things you are trying to achieve.

Furthermore, make sure whichever technology or platform you integrate into your stack or workflow emphasizes privacy and data protection so as not to risk sharing sensitive content with competitors or other outside organizations.

Thank you, Ganesh! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.

Ganesh Shankar is the Chief Executive Officer and one of the founders of Responsive, the global leader in strategic response management. Responsive’s AI-enabled technology serves the sales process, empowering organizations to effectively respond to the information requests they receive, ultimately increasing win r**** and revenue.

Responsive (formerly RFPIO) is the global leader in strategic response management software, transforming how organizations share and exchange critical information. Our innovative, best-in-class platform and customer value programs empower companies to accelerate growth, mitigate risk and improve the employee experience. With Responsive, frontline teams deliver superior responses using intelligent technologies to quickly, accurately and automatically manage RFPs, RFIs, vendor security questionnaires (VSQs), due diligence questionnaires (DDQs), risk assessments, business presentations and all other complex information requests (RFXs).

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