The market for online data storage has been battled over for years, and yet, some newcomers, like the start-up Box, have managed to penetrate it and even expand their business. The technology platform increasingly focuses on enterprise customers and particularly seeks to stand out from the competition with clever third-party apps for mobile teams. Niall Wall, senior vice president for business development and responsible for international expansion, explains his long-term strategy and highlights the importance of strategic partnerships.
Mr Wall, you want to provide a backbone for future digital business models. How do services such as Box change the way we are able to work and collaborate?
We’ve already seen cloud computing change the way enterprises work, but innovation in the workplace hasn’t stopped yet. In fact, it has only just begun. Box is at the forefront of this significant “reconstruction” in business. As expectations for technology in our workplace change and the impact on actual business results is realised, the tools for the future of work, for example like cloud technologies, will take on even more prominence. The next step is for these tools to become simpler and smarter, making it easier to collaborate and communicate, access information without any obstacles, accelerate repeatable tasks and leverage data to make predictions – like guiding doctors to the most likely diagnosis or helping a sales person go after the most receptive customers.
Right now, you target industries such as medical and financial, but also education. In which other industries do you spot growth markets for your solutions?
Every industry today is faced with the same challenge of collaborating on and sharing information. We’ve seen growth across all sectors: manufacturing, retail, media and entertainment, healthcare, financial services, technology – companies from every industry are looking for better ways to collaborate and work on content and we’re seeing a significant move to cloud technologies even in the most regulated industries.
Like your competitors, you have to deal with a race to zero in terms of digital storage fees. Your prevailing model therefore builds on selling additional services on top of the cloud platform. Please give us an example.
Enterprises today value the ability to collaborate on documents, share files and build projects in a central shared space. Whether you’re a global pharmaceutical or a manufacturer with offices around the world, we bring disparate teams together and help them to achieve their greatest work by removing traditional barriers in the workplace. The storage element is simply a necessary part of the process to enabling a smarter, more connected workforce. We view storage as a utility feature of Box – in fact, we completely removed storage limits for our business and enterprise customers in 2014.
Did you ever regret shifting your business model completely to B2B?
We’ve been firmly focussed on building our business to help enterprises do their best work. Box has been built uniquely to solve the challenges of the enterprise and we feel that’s where we do our very best work. Today we’re proud to serve over 62,000 businesses around the world, including General Electric, AstraZeneca, Western Union, Procter & Gamble, Schneider Electric and Eurostar.
Your company also offers mobile cloud services, such as the Capture app for scanning and organising documents. Has mobile become the new normal?
It’s our job to identify how companies and employees most frequently access information and from which device they consume content. As the trend continues to move to a more mobile workforce, we’ve made sure that Box adapts to our users’ needs. If you check out the mobile app for Box, you’ll see that it is intentionally manipulated to enable teams to work on the move.
Let’s also talk about content: you started offering not only a HD video player as part of your service, but also the opportunity to collaboratively work on 3D models. What applications are these and where is further potential?
Media and entertainment is a key sector for us. Companies in this space demand sophisticated tools for accessing and sharing large files, which can be cumbersome to work. Box makes work better by providing tools like workflows, watermarking, version control etc. which allow producers to focus on the work in hand without thinking about the technology needed to support them.
What do you expect from strategic co-operations with industry giants such as IBM or Microsoft?
Our alliances, like with IBM and Microsoft, open up an exciting opportunity for both companies to reach new markets and deliver unified solutions and services that can redefine industries, advance secure collaboration and revolutionise enterprise mobility. The impact will be felt by experts and professionals in industries such as healthcare, financial services, law, media and entertainment, construction and more, who are overwhelmed by today’s digital data and seek better solutions to manage large volumes of information more intelligently and securely.
Let’s come to data security. You already offer encryption keys. How do they ensure users’ ownership of their data?
We have several options for companies who have complex data security requirements. Box KeySafe is one of our latest services that provides organisations with independent control over their encryption keys without sacrificing the ease of use and powerful collaboration features of Box. Earlier this year, we added Box Zones: a breakthrough technology providing in-region data storage with Box, and raising the bar for privacy and control in the cloud. Box Zones enables businesses around the globe to adopt Box, while letting them store their data in the region of their choice, starting with Germany, Ireland, Singapore or Japan, in partnership with IBM and Amazon. Finally, Box Governance gives customers a better way to comply with regulatory policies, satisfy e-discovery requests and effectively manage sensitive business information. It helps customers meet legal, regulatory and business policies for accessing, retaining and disposing their information with a cost-effective and intuitive solution. We’ve found that these three products, along with Box’s core security and compliance features, allow companies from all industries to move their content to the cloud, safely and in line with local regulations.
You started your business with a handful of people. Did the recent IPO change your company DNA? Which new opportunities were thus created?
We work extremely hard to maintain our company culture. It’s important for us to create a place where people enjoy coming to work and are able to produce their best work. Being a public company allows us to continue to invest in the world’s most talented workers so we can build tools which improve the way businesses around the world get work done.
Box is right now valued about 1.5 billion US Dollar. What’s your long-term growth strategy?
We’re 100 percent focussed on helping our customers to collaborate and do businesses more easily around the world. As we continue to build out our core product, you’ll see us continuing to expand in our international services which make it even easier for companies across Europe and the world to share and collaborate on our platform.
Niall Wall is Senior Vice President of business development and international expansion at Box. He leads the company’s overall partnership strategy, key global relationships and strategic alliances. Prior to joining Box, he held several senior leadership roles at Symantec, including VP and General Manager of the Norton Data Services, VP of the Data Protection Group and VP of Business Development and Alliances.
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q3 2016 (produktkulturmagazin.de)