The future of IT and digital transformation will see major companies working together to create platforms, products and services based on user experiences rather than operating in competing silos.
This is the view of Aaron Levie (pictured), founder and chief executive of Box, which is targeting enterprises looking to move from legacy IT and analogue business processes to more modern practices based on digital services.
Levie championed partnerships and integration between technology companies specialising in digital services, citing Box’s work with APIs opened by Microsoft for Office Online to integrate the cloud and collaboration service into the productivity suite.
“This is, I think, a pretty incredible underscoring of where we see the future of IT. You're going to see vendors working together to deliver best-in-class experiences regardless of what platform you are using,” he said at the Box World Tour in London.
Levie explained that such an approach is a key part of giving enterprises the best experiences and tools to embrace digital platforms internally and create consumer-focused apps and services that tap into the functionality and specialties of multiple technology vendors without unnecessary complexity or the need to choose one service over another.
To this end, Box is effectively shaping its service into a flexible platform that enables users to decide where their data is stored and provides APIs that developers can integrate natively into the back end of apps.
This means that developers can make use of the content management and security capabilities of Box without their users even realising it.
Equally, Box wants to integrate with all manner of productivity and enterprise applications, so that it shows up natively and allows users to seamlessly access documents and files worked on in Box. This has already happened with Office 365, Salesforce and iOS.
Box will also push ahead with its partnership with IBM to explore the use of data analytics in the Box environment. This could involve the exploration of cognitive computing delivered courtesy of IBM’s Watson analytics capabilities, but Levie and IBM did not outline any products or features in the pipeline.
Furthermore, Levie said that Box will dramatically overhaul the user interface to make it more elegant and easier to navigate, strengthening its appeal as a platform to be built on and used natively.
Levie sees the IT world heading towards creating platforms and embracing integration with other digital services, marking its evolution from a department that keeps systems running to one that creates and provisions technology that evolves and transforms a company's business operations.
He explained that embracing digital transformation is an important next step for IT departments because legacy approaches no longer hold up.
“IT now has to step back and actually change the way products are developed. Moving from analogue models to digital models means that you no longer provide technology experiences just to your employees. Those are not the only customers of IT anymore,” he said.
“Now all constituents matter: your customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, everyone that used not to be in you network, that used to not be in the four walls of your organisation. Now, fundamentally, you’re responsible for driving technology and digital experiences to all of these individuals and all of these entities.”
Such a shake-up might seem a little intimidating to IT departments that have regimented and established ways of working. But Levie noted that digital transformation is already happening, even if it is in incremental steps.
“We are seeing a dramatic shift to a modern IT stack. You might be moving things like email and productivity to Office 365. You might be moving CRM to something like Salesforce.com,” he said.
“So you’re seeing this shift from a legacy approach of how IT was delivered to a much more on-demand approach focused on experiences, on the user, on security that is embedded in everything that is delivered. That’s the future IT state that we see.”
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