Mike Lim joined Cisco Investments in 2017 and is responsible for all of Cisco’s acquisitions and venture investments in the Collaboration domain. Prior to joining Cisco, Mike was an M&A banker at BMO Technology Investment Banking in San Francisco, where he focused on the Enterprise Software sector and led the coverage of Industrial Technology & Software vertical. Prior to BMO, Mike worked at Deutsche Bank and ING Investment Banking in New York where he primarily focused on M&A transactions in the broader technology sector. Mike started his career at PWC Transaction Services where he focused on complex transaction accounting and M&A valuation.
What’s the first thing that you do when you log in to work for the day? Probably start by catching up on what’s new, right? With your cup of coffee in hand, you jump on your mobile device or settle at your desk to start checking your emails and messages.
The problem is that for many of us, this simple act of “getting caught up” has become increasingly difficult given the number of messaging applications that you may need to download, log in to, and navigate. Different companies – and even different teams within the same organization – may use various messaging apps, making it cumbersome to collaborate. You might receive a message from a colleague in Webex by Cisco, a customer might be asking a question in Slack, and then be sent a link to review a document in Microsoft Teams.
It was this exact situation that Tom Hadfield and James Cundle encountered four years ago. At the time, they were collaborating on a project with five different companies on five different messaging platforms. Frustrated about juggling the apps, they asked themselves, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we could just choose a preferred messaging app and still be able to communicate with everyone else?”
And with that concept in mind, Hadfield and Cundle founded Mio in 2017.
Cisco and Mio: Committed to Interoperability
At Cisco, we have long been committed to delivering openness and interoperability for our customers, giving customers the ability to use the tools that work best for them.
That’s why when the Mio team approached us back in 2017, we were excited to support their efforts. We’ve been collaborating closely with them on early product development and making introductions to Webex customers who could help them identify use cases and iterate on prototypes. In 2018, Cisco added Mio to the Cisco Solutions Plus program, making the app globally available to Cisco customers, channel partners, and sales teams and marking them as a Cisco-compatible trusted vendor.
Today, Mio has numerous enterprise customers of their seamless, cross-platform messaging interoperability solution. Now, as it looks to scale its operation, Cisco Investments is excited to announce its commitment to the company’s growth phase, with participation in Mio’s Series A funding round.
Removing the Boundaries to Company Communication in Real-Time Messaging
Hadfield has found that almost every large organization of 1,000 or more employees are using multiple messaging apps due to an acquisition, legacy use, geographic preferences or functionality differences between teams. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to find Webex deployed company-wide, while an engineering or marketing team chats on Slack. This is because, despite a company’s desire to standardize to one platform, teams tend to gravitate towards their preferred tools.
“In fact, it’s now become more conventional wisdom that this idea of standardizing on one messaging tool is unrealistic for most large organizations. If a CIO or a VP of IT tells me that they have successfully standardized on one messaging app, I know that either there’s some shadow IT or there are tools being used that they’re unaware of,” says Hadfield.
External communications between companies and their various partners, vendors and customers is another big use case for Mio. Due to usage of varying messaging apps, this type of communication tends to be forced to email, mainly because they have no other option. However, as inboxes become overcrowded (the average person receives 200 emails per day, of which 144 are irrelevant) and workers desire real-time, user-friendly communication, Hadfield believes the 50-year old tech of email will be replaced.
Mature APIs: Making “Collaboration Nirvana” Possible
While interoperability was once accomplished through open standards, it’s mature APIs that now enable Mio to connect today’s messaging platforms.
“All of these modern team collaboration apps have mature APIs,” says Hadfield, “and that’s what really allows for truly seamless interoperability for the first time.”
Mio’s new approach, which is based on API federation, an infrastructure that allows for more interoperability and flexibility, has been described by customers as a “collaboration nirvana” — allowing them to choose their preferred messaging app while communicating with virtually anyone inside or outside the company, whatever their messaging app of choice.
Best of all, employees and those in their communication circle never have to worry about jeopardizing their data or privacy.
Following a “security by design” philosophy, Mio is committed to keeping customers’ data secure and confidential while protecting users’ personal data and privacy rights. The app never stores customers’ messages or files and classifies and prioritizes data to ensure top-tier security.
What’s Next for Mio
At this year’s WebexOne conference, we announced new interoperability to provide frictionless communication regardless of device or platform and continuous workflows with embedded apps. That’s because at Cisco, we are dedicated to partnering with and investing in companies who share our vision for better workplace collaboration. It’s also why we designed Webex as an open platform, creating an ecosystem of developers, partners, and ISV’s – like Mio – who can help today’s teams to get work done the way they want.
As Mio looks to the future, Hadfield says, “Our goal is to provide completely seamless interoperability and cross-platform messaging, where Mio is completely 100% invisible to the end-user. We’ve got some work to do on that, and it requires partnering with Cisco and others to develop some new APIs that will continue to make the interoperability experience more seamless.”
“We’re also investing heavily in our enterprise-grade administration tools, which will enable Mio to be fully configurable and customizable by IT administrators at large enterprise customers,” Hadfield says.
Mio will be adding support for additional messaging applications and for new features like presence synchronization over the next year.
Cisco is excited to join Mio on their journey and to support their vision of a unified messaging network.