Avaamo launches as WhatsApp for business

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy October 7, 2014
Can Avaamo break the glass ceiling of consumer apps in the enterprise? We think it can because they've thought about enterprise needs while retaining consumer ease.

Ram Menon, CEO Avaamo gave me a sneak preview last week of Avaamo, a new entrant into the messaging market. Today it launches in a crowded market that saw WhatsApp snapped up by Facebook for an eye watering $19 billion. Can it succeed as enterprise developers learn to operate in a world where consumerization of IT matters? I think so.

The problem for tools like WhatsApp and others is that they're not built to be enterprise grade. While enterprises are getting to grips with the idea of 'bring your own device' (BYOD), they get very nervous of using consumer applications for anything confidential.  these apps play havoc with corporate policies on compliance. So what differentiates Avaamo? Menon says:

Before we wrote a line of code we talked to people. We here in Silicon Valley talk about optimising our inbox but there’s a lot of people who’ve moved beyond email. We talked to sales people; their first computer is a smartphone. The floor manager’s in Asian retail uses a smartphone all the time and in some businesses, new employees don’t get issued with an email address.

That's a good start and one that many developers utterly miss. But what of the CIO and his needs?

The CIO of one large company said that if we can prove the case and guarantee sub-second response times then he'd be prepared to make using consumer messaging apps a sackable offence.


Back to the end user. Menon is of the view that none of the application providers have innovated the contact list:

If you're a salesperson then what you really want to see are your most recent contacts. That changes as you move from deal to deal so we've built an intelligent contacts book that surfaces those most common contacts so you don't have to go look for them. And here's another thing, we can convert any appointment into a group message so you could for instance message groups to advise when you'll be arriving for an important meeting.

Ram Menon - CEO Avaamo

When I looked at the application I noticed they have included my calendar appointments so I can see how this fits in. But what about the corporate governance end of things?

In the mobile world - what does online mean? Has the message been seen? Has the message been read?  We show you that but equally important, this information can be fed into audit compliance and control systems. This is important in the financial services industry and law enforcement but we can also see many other potential opportunities.

Avaamo ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is simple, intuitive, it works. Synching contacts the first time around takes time but once that task is complete then you're ready to go.

Wisely, they've chosen not to charge for the client. That means I can readily include anyone in my network, whether they are a colleague or business contact. Instead, Avaamo makes its money at the back end in providing premium services for companies that need secure connectivity and automated onboarding.

Will it fly? Avaamo already has 27 beta testing customers it expects to convert. Menon's team all come from the enterprise world and are very familiar with how to work with large enterprises. That should give them ready access to a large market and with a $6.3 million seed round under their belt, they're not short of funds. Now it is down to execution.

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