In this AIIM Conference 2013 Q&A, Robin Daniels discusses sharing, mobility, and the cloud. IT and users don’t have to be in conflict; “simplicity” and “enterprise” can go together.
Robin Daniels is Head of Enterprise Product Marketing at Box. Robin is a prominent advocate and expert on enterprise cloud computing and how it is transforming enterprises and the software industry. Having worked in the tech industry for over 15 years for leading companies such as Salesforce, Veritas, and Vignette; Robin has extensive knowledge in the areas of cloud computing, enterprise software, collaboration technologies, and marketing innovation.
Bryant Duhon: Talk a little bit about apps and increased ease of access to content.
Robin Daniels: Content is one of those things that every knowledge-worker creates every single day, whether they think about it or not. And content is always meant to be shared with other people, either inside or outside the company. What would be the point of creating a great strategy presentation that no one is going to see? There is none. Companies need to make it insanely easy to store, access, and share this content in a secure way with the people that need to see it. And the need to share content easily is only increasing as people become more mobile. Box is all about making this a reality by giving users an intuitive app that is super simple to use, while at the same time giving IT more control over who is sharing what content, with whom, and from which devices.
BD: Between Box, SharePoint, other ECM software, other file-sharing tools, and online collaboration; how do companies avoid replicating the “R-drive, I can’t find anything” problem with cloud-based tools? It looks like a lot of companies are just punting the same problem to another platform.
RD: Ideally, you have one solution where you store all your unstructured content, though in many larger enterprises that’s hard to achieve due to silos or different workflows that have been set up. What’s absolutely a requirement however is to have an application that has universal full-text search so people can find what they are looking for just as easily as searching on Google, as well as giving IT controls over who can create content. That way you don’t get content sprawl, and will make it easier for employees to find the documents they need to do their job.
BD: “Online collaboration” is a broad term; define it in the context of what Box does.
RD: Collaboration is a loaded term these days. There’s social collaboration (Yammer, Chatter, Jive), real-time collaboration (Webex, Messenger), and content collaboration, such as Box. We believe content is the currency of business and a business can’t function optimally if they don’t figure out how to make it easy to share, access, and collaborate on those files, while at the same time integrating with all the other collaboration tools an organization may have, such as the ones I mentioned earlier.
BD: Your mission is simple: to make sharing, accessing and managing content ridiculously easy. How does this guide the development of Box products?
RD: At Box we have 3 audiences that we serve, end-users, businesses, and developers, and we have an obligation to each. For end-users, we have to make the experience of using Box incredibly simple from anywhere, using any device so people can get their work done and share and collaborate easily. For businesses, we have to give them the tools they need to feel confident in putting their content into Box. Businesses want control, reporting and visibility, integration with enterprise apps and policies, configurable security, and the ability to customize easily. Developers want to build apps using the easiest tools and APIs available, while at the same time getting access to millions of users. This means that we have different teams focusing on each audience segment, as well as cross-functional teams that ensure everything is optimized end-to-end.
BD: How does “easy” and “simple” access to content allow change in the way people get work done?
RD: People have been sharing content for ages - it’s nothing new. But people are now sharing bigger files, with more people, both inside and outside the firewall. This means that the tools we’ve been relying on for content collaboration and sharing are vastly outdated, including email, file-servers, and FTP sites. These legacy apps are not easy to use on mobile devices and make it difficult to share large files or collaborate on those files with in-context comments and task management. They are totally disconnected from the workflow of each user. Box aims to solve this problem and make each user wildly effective and much more productive by using apps that work the way they want to work.
BD: The “cloud” has gained acceptance in the past year; for anyone reading this who is negative about the cloud, make the argument in favor of using this option.
RD: I would say the cloud has been gaining acceptance for many years now. Companies such as Salesforce, Successfactors, Workday, Google, Amazon and Box, have been paving the way for companies to run business critical functions in the cloud. Box alone has more than 140,000 businesses, from small companies to large, multi-national enterprises, running on our service. More and more companies are realizing that cloud solutions often times provide better security than they would ever have themselves, gives them more flexibility than on-premise solutions, lowers overall costs, and makes users happier and more productive with easier user interfaces. This trend is only continuing and will continue into 2013 and beyond as the industry matures. The fact that every major technology company (Microsoft, IBM, EMC, etc.) in the world claims to be a cloud company, says a lot!
BD: What’s next for the ECM industry?
RD: The ECM industry has to evolve or be left behind. We’re in a technological revolution driven by cloud, mobile, social, and hyper collaboration. New ECM solutions have to have those elements included or else they won’t be meeting the demands of a modern workforce. They also have to provide an intuitive end-user experience that’s modeled after the consumer web that we’ve all grown used to, like Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, etc. Most existing ECM solutions are really immensely complex, built for IT, and not user friendly at all, which then forces employees to go around IT and install their own apps on their smart-phones, tablets, and computers. The ECM industry has to realize that simplicity is not the enemy of the enterprise and that the two can co-exist harmoniously.
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