File Transfer

Box CEO: Transformation is more than putting software on top of traditional business models

Cloud-based file sharing & collaboration company Box wants you and your company to embrace digitization properly.

Speaking in London this week at the company’s BoxWorld Tour, CEO Aaron Levie focused on the importance of Digital Transformation and the role his company can play in aiding that change.

Zoning in on a theme many companies now revolve their messaging around, Levie identified mobility, Cloud computing, and greater connectivity between people as driving change within companies across all industries.

“These trends are not just changing work technology, it's fundamentally affecting and impacting all of our businesses, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what market you're going after,” he said. “There's no industry that's not dealing with the impact of digital technology in a significant way.”

Digital Transformation is skin deep

Levie warned against merely “putting software on top of traditional business models”, and said digitization needs to happen throughout the business.

“For a lot of organizations, the first attempt at going digital is to think just the software layer, just the interface to the customer; 'if we can just write a really cool app that's real-time and works on every device, that means we're all of a sudden going to become digital.'”

“And what we tend to find is that all of the same broken processes, broken workflows, and bureaucracy we dealt with in the industrial, non-digital world just gets replicated either in a digital experience or the experience breaks down at some point. The app is just the manifestation of the core digital experience.”

He called for companies to embrace digital operating models “from the ground up”. Using Netflix as an example, Levie claimed that the streaming service wasn’t better than the incumbents because of its app, but because it's fundamentally built on very difficult kind of business model.

Overnight change

Customers expect excellent digital experiences, no matter what industry you're in, but that's what they've become accustomed to in other aspects of their day to day lives.

"Even if you don't have an immediate digital competitor that is disruptive to your business, all of your consumers are using digital platforms and are recognising that they can get better experiences in the market today."

But while the imperative is clear, gaining to the promised land of digital transformation isn’t a simple one.

“We know that all businesses have to go digital, but it's not that easy,” he said. “It's not that simple to just all of a sudden become a digital company overnight.”

“The things that the customers want in the pre-digital era are now the things that are holding us back. All of the experiences that we got good at, all of the skills we built up over time, in terms of deploying physical branches, or optimising processes so we can improve our margin by 0.1% every couple of years, all of those things now are ultimately holding us back.”

According to Levie, Box’s role in this transformation is enabling people and companies to work together better and change processes. “You're going to see more and more from box around 'how do we enable people to be able to work with anyone, anywhere, at any time?'”

“When you imagine what happens when people can share and collaborate and work with anyone throughout the business, what you start to see is a breaking down of the traditional hierarchies. You can't possibly have all the great ideas within your team, you need to be able to get innovation and insights from anyone in the company at any time.”

Box’s future

Levie joked that it wouldn’t be a technology conference without talking about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. But unlike many companies, Box isn’t making a big song and dance about the technology.

Long term, the company imagines using Machine Learning to help provide greater visibility into all the documents a company has (something which Levie suggested could be useful with regards to regulatory compliance requirements such as GDPR) and making them searchable, automatically making sure all documents adhere to the specific compliance requirements depending on the situation, and becoming more predictive with regards to bringing up content for users. Levie’s examples include suggesting relevant materials just before a meeting, or bringing up content from different departments that may be useful on your current project.


Also Read:

Dropbox trades more blows with Box in a fight to the end

Datto jumps into Dropbox territory

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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