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SymphonyAI Names New CEO

Transition comes as enterprise AI firm explores an IPO
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
Sanjay Dhawan

The parent company of Symphony RetailAI, with customers such as grocers such as Publix, Hy-Vee, Albertsons and Smart & Final, has new leadership as it explores an IPO this year.

SymphonyAI, announced Jan. 13 that Sanjay Dhawan has joined as CEO. According to the company, Dhawan will drive SymphonyAI's growth as an integrated company pursuing a single strategy across retail, CPG, financial services, manufacturing, media, IT service management and additional sectors.

"We are one of the largest and fastest-growing enterprise AI companies, with more than 1,000 major customers globally," said SymphonyAI Founder and Chairman Dr. Romesh Wadhwani. "Our work addressing specific customer needs and applying AI to capture value across industries is unique. I know Sanjay's successful track record. His reputation for unlocking market value is well-earned, and he will bring that leadership to SymphonyAI for our next growth phase. With the addition of our CFO and CTO in December, we now have the full senior leadership team we need to be the leader in enterprise AI."

Dhawan was most recently CEO and president at Cerence, an automotive software company. He drove growth in market capitalization of Cerence from $500 million in 2019 to reach a high of more than $5 billion in 2021. Previously, Dhawan led Symphony Teleca to an $830 million acquisition by Harman International, and then led Harman Connected Services division as its president.

Dhawan's appointment follows SymphonyAI's executive announcements in December 2021 of Wayne Kimber as CFO and Vijay Raghavendra as CTO.

Former CEO and company founder Romesh Wadhwani told Forbes that the leadership transition comes at a time when SymphonyAI is exploring an IPO.

In November, Wisconsin grocer Skogen's Festival Foods selected the Symphony RetailAI Master Data Management solution to establish a data foundation to sustain its rapid growth as it executes on its end-to-end technology road map, starting with Symphony RetailAI Promotions Optimization.

Festival Foods’s systems have been deployed since the grocer operated only 10 locations. Now, with almost 40 stores, the grocer realized that it had outgrown its current technology. The company’s initial goal was to run more effective and cost-efficient retail promotions. However, it soon recognized it needed a more analytical approach, where it could apply science to promotional decisions instead of trusting intuition, and decided to replace its underlying system before adding new capabilities. In doing so, Festival knew it could also centralize store-level responsibilities so that teams could focus less on tactics and more on creating an exceptional shopping experience.

“As we grow, we’re committed to doing so in a way that leverages leading-edge technologies with AI and machine learning, while staying true to our customer-focused culture,” noted Jeff Main, Festival’s VP information technology. “In fact, culture was our No. 1 priority, and Symphony RetailAI certainly fit that requirement with its roots in grocery. Plus, the breadth of Symphony RetailAI’s offering was exactly what we were looking for, covering everything a grocery retailer needs today. Furthermore, because Symphony RetailAI’s platform is cloud-based, it’s going to eliminate IT management headaches you’d typically have with an on-premise solution. Instead, we’ll have a more reliable system across the board, with less downtime and more confidence in the integrity of our data.”

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