Box CEO Aaron Levie: CIOs are driving significant digital transformation

Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of Box on a renaissance in enterprise software and IT and accelerated digital business transformation in the next normal.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer

Aaron Levie is chief executive officer, co-founder, and lead magician at Box, which he launched in 2005 with CFO and cofounder Dylan Smith. Levie is the visionary behind the Box product and platform strategy, incorporating the best of secure content collaboration with an intuitive user experience suited to the way people work today. Levie leads the company in its mission to transform the way people and businesses work so they can achieve their greatest ambitions.


  Aaron Levie, CEO and co-founder of Box.

Box is a content cloud company. Digital business transformation is powered by content. In order for companies to deliver value at the speed of need, they must develop a strong content management and collaboration capabilities. The new currencies in a digital and decentralized economy are speed, personalization, and intelligence. Today, 67% of Fortune 500 companies use Box to power their business transformation journey. Box had a huge role to play during the pandemic as people realized they needed to access their content from anywhere and from any device. To learn more about enterprise software and IT trends since the pandemic, Ray Wang, CEO and founder of a Silicon Valley-based advisory firm Constellation Research, and I invited Aaron Levie to our weekly show DisrupTV. Here are the key takeaways from our conversation with Levie.

Business leaders must adopt a digital-first and re-invention mindset

The future, which is here now, is about working from anywhere, on any mobile device. Today's new IT architecture enables many to work from anywhere and the future of work and new business models. Levie has been talking about the importance of digital transformation for a decade. In 2015, he warned business leaders about real digital transformation by tweeting the following: "Adding software to a broken process doesn't make you digital. The biggest challenge is reimagining the process, not writing the software."

Digital business transformation is about adopting a digital-first mindset and re-invention of new digitally-enabled processes and business models. Levie reminds us that in the past, digital did not fundamentally re-engineer the process or service that delivers a better stakeholder experience. Levie mentioned what Uber and Netflix and other digital natives companies have done to disrupt industries. 

The importance of knowing the jobs to be done 

The companies that thrived during the pandemic had previously re-engineered their business to be thinking about digital-first business models, including underlying processes. Levie referenced several industries, including life sciences and the tech sector, that thrived during the pandemic. Going forward, business leaders are going to be re-thinking fundamentally what businesses they are in, how do you re-engineer the underlying processes to get the most value to your stakeholders, and how software will serve as a major delivery method for a lot of that value. Box is a content cloud that enables all of these business processes to optimize how they manage and use unstructured content. Content is at the heart of digital transformation. 

Designing enterprise software with the user in mind

A robust enterprise content strategy and lifecycle management have led to the expansion of the Box platform with several exciting and new acquisitions. Today Box offers security and compliance, workflow, collaboration, e-signature, IT admin and control, and integration solutions to other applications as its toolbox of offerings. Box has dramatically expanded its platform to deliver solutions covering the entire content lifecycle. Collaboration and intelligence around content is a major focus area for Box and its innovation roadmap. Box is delivering insights and analytics around content to accelerate decision velocity and value creation in real-time.     

Enterprise software must be built for the user. Design for simplicity is another focus area for Box. Levie spoke to us about the consumerization of IT that started more than a decade ago. Enterprise software must be easy to use and intuitive. The design principles from the consumer space need to adopted in the enterprise. Box is hiring consumer designers for their enterprise software. Box is building simple software for the users, with incredible security, scale, and intelligence and power in the backend for the enterprise. 

AI-powered content cloud 

Digital transformation is about re-invention of business models and the underlying value to your stakeholders. Box works with customers to reimagine their products and services in order to accelerate time to value. Levie reminds us of the 'jobs to be done' based on the theory from Clay Christensen. Levie referenced companies like Disney as a role model for a company that is reinventing itself to delight its customers.

Levie also talked to us about Box's commitment to machine learning and AI. Box is building incredible telemetry about content usage and collaboration. Box is tracking events on content to ensure greater visibility into content usage and flow. Box is delivering content forensics to IT security teams so that they can better understand content usage profiles within the enterprise. Box analytics is helping organizations better secure, protect and share content within the enterprise and throughout the ecosystem. 

All businesses run on content. Successful digital business transformation is all about improving delivery of value at the speed of need which is directly a function of how companies use content to improve decision velocity and execution excellence. Levie is a brilliant CEO and a technology visionary. I highly encourage you to follow him on Twitter at @levie and watch our entire conversation about the pace of digital transformation, importance of machine learning, and what we can expect in the future in terms of content management strategy and capabilities. 

We also spoke with CEO and co-founder of Introhive, Jody Glidden, about the importance of AI in enterprise software. Glidden spoke to us about machine learning, AI ethics, the challenge with having enough data to make precision decisions, competing on decision velocity, improving the quality of AI predictions, and future of AI in enterprise software. Our show ended with a fantastic conversation with Dr. Jonathan Reichental, founder of Human Future, and Brett Hoffstadt, engineer and author, about their new bookSmart Cities Activity Book for Kids.

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