HomeAvePoint CEO's BlogRoad To NASDAQ: How We Will Grow Through Product Innovation

Road To NASDAQ: How We Will Grow Through Product Innovation

In my initial blog post, I provided an overview of the AvePoint story I was telling investors during our PIPE roadshow.

In this series, I am going to zoom in on the multiple growth vectors that make AvePoint such a dynamic and exciting company.

It is no accident the first growth vector I’m focusing on is product innovation. I’ll explain why it is core to who we are, how we do it, our competitive advantage, our recent innovations, and some of the current challenges we are working to solve.

Who We Are

At our heart, AvePoint is a company of inventors and innovators. More than half of our employees have a technology background, including the majority of our senior leadership team.

When people invest in AvePoint, they are not investing in the viability or future of a particular solution. They are investing in a track record of innovation that spans across nearly two decades and 30 products.

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While we started as a SharePoint backup and migration company, that barely scratches the surface of what we do and how we generate revenue today. In fact, migration accounts for less than 10 percent of our annual revenue.

Today, we are the largest Microsoft 365 data management solutions provider with more than 7 million cloud users relying on our solutions like Cloud Governance, Cloud Backup, Cloud Records, Policies and Insights, and others.

The easiest way to think about what we do and what we innovate is this: we find ways to make organizations’ digital collaboration more compliant, productive, and secure (with a focus on Microsoft 365).

How We Do It

Invention can be messy, but there is a process to the madness. There are a few key principles to how we innovate at AvePoint:

  • Ideas come from the field: We have had product ideas come from all types of roles at AvePoint from sales and pre-sales engineers to support and customer success. What is consistent is that all of our best ideas originate from customer needs. To be more specific, and this is a key nuance, what the customer is willing to pay to solve. For example, one of our most popular products, Cloud Governance was developed when a customer expressed frustrations on how they would manage day-to-day operations of their application policies, or automate actions that take corrective action, and provide a comprehensive IT service back to the business. Their attempts at using custom scripts and small utilities to solve the problem left them reactive to address the fluctuations in business demand.
  • Fail fast, fail forward: One year is an eternity in software and timing is everything. One of the hardest things to do in business is to move from a sunk cost where the market has moved on. We have made “agility” one of our three core values at AvePoint and are ruthless in the assessment of our investments into product innovation. You have to know when to continue investing in a technology and when to shift focus.
  • Co-investment is an accelerator: Our best product innovations have come from co-investment opportunities with customers. We do this quite often, especially in Asia, where both parties will have skin in the game to create something new. If that is successful, it can then be scaled globally. For example, in the last six months, we’ve been innovating with Microsoft’s Project Turing team to co-create the best-in-class deep learning models to power artificial intelligence (AI) applications for relevant industry solutions.

Our Competitive Advantage

We have a competitive advantage in our innovation process. Here is why we can innovate more quickly and effectively than any other vendor in the Microsoft ecosystem:

  • Our customer base: Your best ideas are going to come from your customers and we are privileged to have earned the business of global organizations across all industries and sizes, including 25 percent of the Fortune 500. These customers have the strongest need for improving the compliance, productivity, and security of their digital collaboration—and they experience this need first. We just have to listen.
  • Our people: As the largest Microsoft 365 data management solutions provider we have one of the largest Microsoft 365 research, development, and innovation teams in the world. Add that to our core value of agility and that becomes a recipe for success.
  • Our focus: There are a lot of Microsoft partners that waste investments building to compete with the 30,000-pound gorilla in our space. We sit on Microsoft Product Advisory Councils so we can focus on aligning our investments to extend future functionality and to be a complimentary value add to areas where we know are of active interest to Microsoft.

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Now as for how our ability to innovate provides us a competitive advantage:

  • Mature SaaS platform scales across markets: We invested in the cloud and went through some growing pains as a result of this transformation. Having a robust enterprise SaaS data management platform takes years to build, especially around data sovereignty, cloud security, 24/7 cloud operations, and continuous cycles of DevOps leading to agile SaaS platform updates. In 2020 when the whole world rushes towards business continuity and scaling through accelerated digital transformation, a major theme amongst our partners and customer is that “you can’t fake enterprise SaaS.”  Now that we are on the other side of our technology and business transformation, our robust SaaS offerings enable us to provide innovation at scale for our customers and MSP partners.
  • Unique capabilities: By offering unique capabilities and advanced automations we can both provide increased value to customers while also enjoying higher margins than our competitors. For example, by automating tedious governance tasks our Cloud Governance solution directly saves IT teams more time than organizations without automation.
  • Thought leadership: By continuously pushing the edge of digital collaboration, we have established ourselves as thought leaders in the space. Our multiple Microsoft Regional Directors (RD), Most Valuable Professionals (MVP), and Microsoft-certified professionals on staff not only provide relevant guidance to customers we serve but are also actively involved in industry and tech community events. This has allowed us to earn the trust of our customers and bring additional awareness to our brand.

Recent Innovations

A lot of companies talk the talk. Innovation has become nothing more than a buzzword at a lot of companies—even in the technology space. AvePoint walks the walk. Here are recent innovations that have taken place in the last year:

  • Policies and Insights: Launched in July of 2020, PI is the first and currently only solution that monitors sensitive content exposure across Microsoft 365 and proactively enforces policies to prevent data oversharing. Sharing has never been so easy, but managing and monitoring permissions for sensitive documents is difficult for administrators and end users alike. PI steps in to help identify, prioritize and mitigate risks related to oversharing. See how the City of Port St. Lucie used PI to fix thousands of anonymous links.
  • MyHub: MyHub is our Microsoft 365-certified Microsoft Teams app that enables you to save time and be more productive in Microsoft 365. It eliminates chaos and brings order to your workspaces across Microsoft Teams, Groups, SharePoint, and Yammer. It is a one-stop-shop that visually organizes all of your workspaces in Microsoft 365 (just like Pinterest) from the initial creation to sunsetting of your workspace. As more organizations adopt more workloads and services inside Microsoft 365, a product that helps keeps users organized can play a critical role in overall productivity.

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Our recent innovations aren’t limited to net new products. We consistently invest considerable resources into adding additional functionality to our solutions. This extra value is of no additional charge to our existing customers.

  • Ava: AvePoint’s Virtual Assistant (AVA) is the industry’s first bot that restores lost or deleted Office 365 content for end users. AVA powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP) bot framework works for all users by restoring content from the recycle bin. However, our Cloud Backup customers get an even greater added value by being able to find and restore content that is no longer retained by Office 365’s native backup capabilities. This is a great solution for IT teams that are faced with tedious restore support tickets. See why MSP Ictivity loves using AVA.

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  • Governing Yammer Communities: With the recent Microsoft updates making Yammer Communities a Microsoft 365 Group by default, Cloud Governance can now govern Communities the same way we are able to govern Teams, SharePoint, and other Groups.
  • External User Governance: Cloud Governance has simplified the process and enabled more granular control of external sharing in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint for years. Just this year, however, we have introduced functionality for managing the onboarding, access life, and offboarding of external guests. Governing external users is such a strong need today that our recent webinar on the topic was one of our most popular of last year.
  • AvePoint Cloud: In addition to expanding the footprint of our CSA STAR-assessed cloud platform which is hosted in over a dozen global SOC 2 Microsoft Azure data centers, we are continuously developing, implementing, and maintaining appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards within the products and services we provide as proven by our ISO 27001:2013 certification. Recent innovations include enhancing data-driven telemetry, dynamic task scheduling with neural networks, maximizing predictive analytics powered by machine learning (ML), and strengthening security in compliance with NIST and OWASP industry standards.

Closing Thoughts

As the modern workplace is continuously evolving, we are grateful for the many opportunities and challenges presented to us to ensure we can help you collaborate with confidence.

We will never stop innovating to fuel the future of your sustainable and secure digital collaboration!


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TJ
Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang oversees product strategy and business development for AvePoint’s global businesses, and is one of the main architects in guiding AvePoint’s evolution to become a Collaboration Enabler, focusing on helping enterprises in their digitization journey to enable employees to collaborate with confidence. Prior to co-founding AvePoint, TJ’s career focus was on designing and implementing fix-income trading systems, global equity program trading platforms, credit risk modeling, and conducting research in Data Mining. A recipient of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in New Jersey in 2010, TJ received both B.S. and Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University, and a Master of Philosophy and PhD in Data Mining from Department of Information Systems, Operations Management, and Statistics, Stern School of Business, New York University.

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