Sramana: When you decided to get into the enterprise mobility space, what is the first area you decided to focus on?
Krish Kupathil: After a lot of brainstorming and a couple of enterprise customer inquiries, we found an area of interest. Several of our enterprise customers came to us asking how they could access their SharePoint from their Android device. This was a nice business problem, and we wanted to bring a solution to the market that was centered on the business problem.
As a startup, the lowest hanging fruit for us was determining how to enable Microsoft technologies on a non-Windows-based handset. At that point Windows phones had not been released. Even today they only have around 4% of handsets.
Once we knew there was a market for accessing Microsoft technologies from non-Microsoft handsets, we knew there was an opportunity. We knew there was a market because we felt pull from the handset manufacturers as well as from the larger enterprise customers. They would have SharePoint, Exchange and other databases that they wanted to access. Anything that they were used to accessing on their PCs and laptops would need to be accessed on mobile devices. The question was how to give people access to all of that data on a secure network.
Sramana: What form does the product take to address that problem?
Krish Kupathil: First we did analysis on what the most prevalent corporate back-end technology was. We did a survey and research and realized that 80% of corporations were on Microsoft technologies. They used Exchange for email and SharePoint for collaboration as well as Microsoft Lync.
In Q1 of 2011 we approached Microsoft and initiated discussions. At that time they had a very closed policy. Their protocols were intended to be accessed only by Windows devices. It took us six months to lobby inside of Microsoft for interoperability. In November of 2011 we convinced them to license 100 protocols to us. That was a major policy shift from Microsoft, and we are still the designated interoperability partner for Microsoft.
We used that to enable access to Microsoft technologies on non-Windows devices. That meant having the ability to port it to iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Microsoft also ended up paying us to implement the technology on the Windows handsets as well. We created a native solution that runs on iOS, Android, and Windows 8 to allow corporate back-end access on any of those devices.
These devices are not ones where you will likely see data created. In most cases data would be consumed so we focused on making sure that data access and consumption were simplified. We also had to make sure the CIO was perfectly convinced that his data was secure. The data placed on a mobile phone could not be corrupted, and the data could not be distributed without the CIO or IT admin knowing about it.
Our solution will allow mobile users to access corporate resources. If a document is in a SharePoint cloud then a mobile user can tap on the document to open it, or do a long press and see a pop-up that asks if you would like to discuss the document. You will then have discussion options such as by chat, call, VTC or email. If you press audio call, then it will display a list of everyone who is part of your contact list who is also part of Microsoft Lync. Lync is a secure communication tool. It will also show which users are currently online. Our technology also checks for user permissions, so only those who are supposed to have access to the document will be invited to discuss it.
Once colleagues are invited to the call a link of the document is sent to them. They just click on the link and the document will appear in front of them. This can all be done over a Wi-Fi network or over a mobile network.