Melbourne-based high tech startup, MyWave, has launched in the US at the Opus Intelligent Assistant Conference in New York City.
MyWave was founded two years ago by former SAP Australia and SAP North America CEO, Geraldine McBride.
In her keynote address at Opus, McBride highlighted MyWave’s position as the only Intelligent Assistant which safeguards user information. She quoted a US national survey commissioned by MyWave in which consumers overwhelmingly rejected sharing of personal information by Intelligent Assistants without the user’s knowledge or control.
The national IPSOS survey asked consumers, “Would you use an Intelligent Assistant if it were able to gather and share your detailed personal information without your knowledge or control?” Eighty-three per cent of respondents said no.
McBride said the current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) approach used by most businesses and Intelligent Assistant companies is outdated. Furthermore, she said, it will ultimately be rejected by consumers who no longer consider themselves to be “passive participants” at the end of the sales cycle.
McBride said CRM will be replaced by Customer Managed Relationship (CMR) technology where users are in control.
“The CRM approach, where the brand controls the customer relationship, is an old-fashioned model that is naïve in today’s environment where consumers are educated and empowered with ubiquitous Internet access,” McBride said. “As Intelligent Assistants become commonplace in our everyday lives, consumers will gravitate to assistants offering CMR software to manage their shopping and information-gathering experiences. Ultimately, consumers will decide how and when to share their personal data with brands.”
The company has opened a US office in San Francisco, headed by MyWave’s newly-appointed vice-president/chief evangelist, Wally Brill, is a former eBay customer service executive, and an early pioneer in speech recognition technology.
The US launch follows an oversubscribed Phase B capital raise of $4 million, and the announcement that MyWave plans to double the size of its software development team in Melbourne, from around 20 staff to more than 40 by the end of the current year.
The capital raise included a personal investment by Andre Crawford-Brunt, global head of equities trading for Deutsche Bank. Most of the balance has come from existing shareholders increasing their investment position.
McBride said the increase in valuation to $NZ3.45 per share since MyWave completed its first round capital raise of $NZ2.5 million at $NZ0.50 per share in May 2014 reflects MyWave’s rapid progress in building a world-class intelligent personal assistant platform and its sales success with major brands in New Zealand and Australia.
“MyWave’s intelligent personal assistant - called Frank - has a strong leadership position in the rapidly emerging digital personal assistant market,” she said. “Gartner Group estimates that by 2016 more than $US2 billion of online shopping will be done by mobile personal assistants.”
The first MyWave customer to be announced is New Zealand’s Saveawatt (www.saveawatt.co.nz), which early next year will go live with a world-first service using MyWave’s Frank to help householders find the best power price, switch to the best retail plan without filling in forms, and regularly check that the household has the best electricity deal.
According to MyWave, other customers, yet to be announced but in advanced pilot development, include major Australian and New Zealand brands in the retail, real estate and banking sectors.
New Zealander McBride is a currently a director of several public companies including National Australia Bank, and New Zealand’s Sky Television and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.