Following our Sector Trends Series highlight on the growth of mobile technology, TrueBridge Capital Partners spoke with Jim Patterson, co-founder and CEO of recently launched Cotap, Inc., about his latest venture and the technology trends impacting businesses today.
As an early member of the founding team of Yammer, Jim Patterson has long understood the power of social networking in enterprise. Since helping lead the company to its $1.2 billion acquisition by Microsoft in 2012, Patterson is now focusing his business networking prowess on mobile technology.
“In 2008, we saw the emergence of social networking and its important place in the future as a powerful way for people to connect,” Patterson said. “Today, there’s a similar narrative in mobile messaging. Mobile apps are starting to look a lot like social networks.”
It’s not just Patterson’s observation but also a visible market trend, in which the communication loop has grown tighter and mobile messaging apps, including WhatsApp, WeChat, and Path, are evolving to look increasingly like text messages.
Trailing a string of mobile messaging apps already on the market, Cotap allows employees to connect with their coworkers simply and securely by text, without needing to share personal numbers. Cotap introduces short, on-the-go communication where messages appear as push notifications, connecting coworkers faster than e-mail, the 21st century snail mail, ever could.
But perhaps even more important for Cotap is the growth of a particular market within the mobile sphere: the mobile enterprise.
“The same way Yammer brought the social network to the workplace,” Patterson said, “Cotap is bringing the power of mobile to the workplace today.”
In May, there were 90 companies in the mobile enterprise landscape. Today, there are over 150.
Critical to this increase has been the more focused phenomenon of employees bringing their personal devices to work, popularized by the playful acronym BYOD.
Despite the simple concept of the trend, Patterson identifies two myths that have caught fire along with its four letter name.
First is the emphasis on the YO of “bring-your-own-device.” What matters most to Patterson, and to a mobile messaging app like Cotap, isn’t whether the device is “personal” or purchased by an employer. What matters is simply the percentage of workers with a smartphone.
Next is the ongoing mobile platform war: the ranking of platforms by number of users pocketing iPhones, Androids, Windows Phones, or Blackberries. For an app developer, Patterson argues that the real focus should be on the numbers of people actually using an app, and at the moment, those numbers derive largely from the iPhone.
According to a study by Experian, iPhone users spend an average of 26 more minutes per day on their phones than Android users, and they use that time in markedly different ways: only 22% of it is spent talking. Despite the iPhone’s more app friendly statistics, however, Patterson concedes it is important to still have a product available on both leading platforms.
With all three movements of mobile technology, BYOD, and mobile enterprise converging at once, business as we know it is sure to change.
“Over the next three to five years, text and mobile will become a major component of enterprise communication,” Patterson said. “The trend right now is that what you do in your personal life moves into the workplace.”
Indeed, it already has.
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