Sunday, 19 October 2014

Levie brings collaboration to the next level

The 'Lead Magician' (and CEO) of enterprise platform Box, Aaron Levie, discussed the future of work at Business Without Boundaries in London.

Today, many people use modern technology in their personal lives. When going to work, their needs and expectations are the same. 

"They don’t have the patience to use old systems that aren’t responsive or easy to use. Individuals choose to stay with companies that allow them to work the way they want. Workers expects business leaders to deliver technologies that makes them better, faster, and smarter."

This was the premise of Business Without Boundaries 2014 hosted this week in London by Box,  the cloud content management and collaboration platform.

The event was an opportunity to understand how different organisations are evolving and innovating through the use of this modern application, recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing.

Cloud collaboration

Opening the conference was an inspirational Aaron Levie, Box's CEO and Cofounder.

He flew from America to present the direction taken by the company to enable companies and their employees to work better. "Our mission is to make organisations more productive, competitive and collaborative by connecting people and their most important information."

Today, nearly every business process involves multiple teams working from mobile devices, collaborating with partners and clients outside the corporate network and across geographies. Box is enabling companies to perform this securely on the cloud.

Over 27 million employees at 240,000 businesses, including General Electric, Anglo American, Schneider Electric and the UN Foundation, are using Box to share, manage and access their content globally.

Joining this growing list is Oxfam. Levie announced that the worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty, will soon adopt Box across more than 90 countries.

Oxfam is implementing Box through Box.org, an initiative focused on empowering global non-profits to achieve their missions and deliver lasting social impact through technology. In addition to providing employees with mobile access to critical content, the platform will centralise management and security for 17 international affiliates of the organisation.

Oxfam does humanitarian work in the world’s most vulnerable areas; being able to share precious information instantaneously across continents, from capital cities to the remotest locations, is vital for their employees to achieve organisational impact. They have teams across the globe working on hundreds of projects simultaneously. The platform will give them a smoother and more unified way of accessing documents, while empowering collaboration across their entire Oxfam family.

The uniqueness of Box

In a crowded marketplace how does Box differentiate itself from other applications?

"The combination of simplicity and security makes us being different from others," said Levie.

"We combine easier use with security, control and compliance in a way that fewer other companies can do. Whether you are a hospital that needs to secure critical medical data, or a financial services company that needs to be able to secure their most sensitive documents and contracts, we can do that from a security standpoint. Yet, users can still have a very simple application that makes it very easy for them to interact."

Putting people first

Several trends such as social, big data, a new generation of workers and devices, are transforming the traditional approaches taken by business leaders. "Embracing a user-centric strategy, rather than a system-centric one, should be a prerequisite within any enterprise," said Levie.

A user-centric approach doesn’t focus on the technology itself. While applications are still a necessity, people are the starting point. In Levie's vision, the most important business asset is the employee’s experience. Individuals are empowered; they should not have to spend their time trying to figure out how to work with the tools.

"Today, we have simpler technologies available to us, whether it is the mobile phone or new software. We want our workplace tools to be as simple and easy to use as the ones that we have in our consumer and personal life. 

"Enterprise software should be designed like Facebook, YouTube and Apple applications as suppose to traditional, clunky, and complicated technology like Oracle or SAP. Business leaders and enterprises need to find ways to deliver those tools securely to both their employees and customers."

Box for Industries
 
Every enterprise is facing challenges and opportunities that are unique to their own industry. This is why Levie has launched Box for Industries an initiative aimed at accelerating business transformation inside every business by providing industry-specific apps.

An example comes from healthcare. The explosion of data across healthcare providers, researchers and the scientific community has put the industry under the challenge of evolving its approach to interoperability and care coordination. To address that problem, Box has acquired MedXT, a pioneer in cloud-based medical image viewing, sharing and collaboration.

Through MedXT, Box is bridging the gap between the equipment that radiologists and technicians use to capture data, and the people they ultimately need to share that data with. Physicians can collaborate by accessing critical clinical images instantaneously and by making annotations on medical procedures from their devices.

Box for Office 365

From Levie we also heard that Box for Office 365 desktop apps are officially ready for everyone to use. Box for Office is building a bridge to Word, PowerPoint and Excel by making it as simple as possible for everyone to open, edit, save and share any file from Box without having to leave Office. "This makes collaboration faster, more natural, and more accessible from the world’s most popular productivity suite."

The company has also given their existing Box for Outlook a major refresh to make email attachments easier to manage. People can attach files stored on Box into new emails, or save attachments from incoming emails directly to a folder on Box.

Conclusions

These were a few of the new announcements that Box is releasing. It is quite astonishing to think that it all started from a college business project in 2006 to become a de facto cloud platform for corporate information, collaboration and business transformation.

Perhaps, one of Levie's greatest strengths is to evolve rapidly while maintaining faith to his original purpose and mission. He is bridging technology with the reality of how people actually use his service.

As the Lead Magician of Box asserts: "Let's go build how tomorrow works."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate