Last wek Box announced that GE’s 300,000 employees across 170 countries will be coming onboard its collaboration platform. This award is the most recent example of how Box has earned the trust of enterprise IT and is arguably the envy of many aspiring cloud providers. We ask Robin Daniels, Head of Enterprise Product and Industry Marketing at Box to walk us through the decisions that helped Box achieve this market position.
Making it easy for business to share and manage data in the cloud has served you very well as a guiding principle. How have you created a differentiated position?
When you are committed to giving people a delightful experience while also maintaining security and management critical for IT, you have a winner. That’s a clear balance that we constantly strive for. As a cloud platform, we also have the benefit of seeing what impacts user behaviors and helps them to engage with Box in their everyday work life. We found that if we make sharing incredibly easy and put the complicated IT stuff behind the scenes, we attract more users and they spend more time with us. By sticking to these simple principles, we have added a plethora of features that resonate with business and IT leaders.
Your portfolio today spans a wide spectrum from file sharing to industry-specific workflow tools. What’s the ultimate goal?
The sweet spot lies in helping users share and manage information with their customers and partners outside their own organisation. And to do so in compliance with security policies that all parties need to respect. So whether it is a simple sharing service or a more complex business support feature, the same essentials apply. The tipping point came when we made our capability available as a platform. It opened up so many options for customers to build on us, integrate with their existing systems and with our over 550 platform partners.
Recently your Box OneCloud ecosystem reached over 1,000 apps. What does this mean for your business?
In March 2012 we launched OneCloud with a simple ambition to redefine the way enterprises worked on mobile. Our goal was to create a secure, connected ecosystem. We started with 30 applications on iOS focused on improving user productivity. Not only has this grown to more than 1,000 applications, it has evolved into a trusted ecosystem for our 25 million users. We are also starting to see a new class of applications emerge – applications with the sole focus of addressing content-specific workflows for vertical industries. We are still early into the journey, and it is an exciting road ahead.
Continuing on this path must depend on your ability to attract developers. How have you built mindshare with this community?
First of all, we make it really easy for developers to get started with the Box platform, by providing everything from state-of-the-art SDKs to code samples on Github. Having a large user-base and footprint in the enterprise also provides monetization opportunities for developers as they get access to the same customers we have, but they can pursue and fulfill specific use cases as Box ecosystem partners. It’s really a win-win for everyone, and they win by having a pre-built audience willing to listen.
We see developers within customer organisations as worthy of attention too. How does your platform support their needs?
We too see the in-house developer community as an important one. Eli Lilly is a good example of a large global life sciences company that chose Box for over 15,000 sales reps. The goal was to give these reps mobile access to files, and specific business approved mobile apps that were built to work within the same environment. Another good example is TSL Education that built an app that lets millions of teachers around the world connect, upload with, share, and collaborate on teaching resources using the Box platform.
We hear more from your customers about your capabilities, than directly from you. What do you attribute this outcome to?
One of the hardest things we have done is make enterprise collaboration something people want to actively talk about. Our users are passionate about being associated with our brand. They see it as a validation of their own thought leadership. This more than anything else has worked in our favour and has been a useful way of assessing how well we are delivering value and leading our customers into the future of work.
You can follow Robin on @robin_daniels