Enterprise IT should be more user-centric, says Box CEO Aaron Levie

The CEO of cloud-based file sharing and content management service Box calls on enterprises to rethink IT delivery model

Aaron Levie, chief executive of cloud-based file sharing and content management service Box, has called on enterprises to rethink their IT delivery model.

At Box’s annual Business Without Boundaries event in London on 14 October, Levie emphasised the importance of making enterprise IT more user-centric to ensure businesses are competitive and can respond quickly to changing needs.

“The disparity between how we work and what traditional enterprise software can solve is at its greatest today,” Levie told delegates. This, he said, is making frustrated users bring their own tools, applications and devices to work. “There are 738 different types of cloud applications in use in an average enterprise,” he added.

According to Levie, legacy software cannot keep up with the changing IT landscape in the cloud, mobile and digital era. “Traditionally, all data has been trapped in enterprise datacentres and IT has had full control. This is not how we work today,” he told an audience of more than 1,000 Box customers at the event.

“A new kind of IT stack is emerging. IT is moving from Siebel to Salesforce, from SAP to Workday, and from IBM to Amazon Web Services. Platforms, applications and compute resources are all becoming user-focused.”

Time to rethink the IT delivery model

Levie said these shifts are forcing enterprise IT to rethink the technology delivery model. 

The disparity between how we work and what traditional enterprise software can solve is at its greatest today.
Aaron LevieBox

“Enterprises have to design IT with users at the centre of the strategy,” he said. “The new IT delivery model will move from being cost-focused to business-focused; from system-centric to user-centric; from proprietary to open standards.”

Levie added that enterprises also need to rethink security strategies when devising IT roadmaps, and change the overall view of IT.

“From a perimeter IT security point of view, we need to move to an inherent security point of view. And IT attitude has to shift from ‘IT dictates’ to ‘IT enables’,” he said.

According to Levie, new-age companies such as Uber and Pandora, which were all born in the cloud, are developing a user-centric approach to IT. These companies are agile and are able to innovate faster because they have no legacy to protect, he said.

But he pointed out that some big enterprises, such as GE and SKF in Europe, are also redesigning their IT strategies with users in mind.

Integrated storage and applications

Levie told delegates the shifts in IT delivery are altering the data storage segment too. 

“Traditionally, enterprises had several layers of storage and server infrastructure, and IT had to integrate all these different components for storage strategies to work,” he said.

Levie referred to how enterprise IT had to bring together server and storage hardware, add security layers, then applications and management tools, and bring it all together. “But then we thought how about delivering this whole stack as a service… and as a cloud.”

Box’s European customer base is growing. It has recently started working with Oxfam and works with other European organisations such as Fifa, Peterborough Council, SKF, Hounslow Council and British Gas Group.

At the event, Levie also announced that Box is adding features to its file storing, sharing and syncing services. 

“We are launching Box in Office 365. With the Box for Office service, users can open, edit, save and share any file from Box, without having to leave the Microsoft Office suite. This makes collaboration faster, more natural and more accessible,” he said.

The cloud content service company is also updating its Box for Outlook plugin to make email attachments easier to manage and to allow users to streamline email workflow.

“Never before has IT innovation been so closely tied to IT transformation,” said Levie.

Niche services for vertical markets

Box differs from the big daddies of the cloud world, such as Amazon which offers a similar file-sharing service called Zocalo, in that it has the ability to offer niche services. 

For instance, it has acquired MedXT, a cloud-based medical image viewing, sharing and collaboration platform. This, according to Levie, will give it technology strengths to address the specific needs of the healthcare segment.

“We are not getting into other businesses such as email or calendaring, we go deeper into each vertical’s needs,” Levie said. “Our differentiation is that we are focused on only one mission.”

He also said that many of its competitors are dramatically underestimating the file-sharing market and just delivering the service as an added feature.

“But we think it will be a key platform, like enterprise resource planning, and are focused on delivering additional services to users.”

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