Monday, September 16th, 2013

BoxWorks and the Future of Information

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Last year at BoxWorks, we discussed how information sits at the center of business. This time around, we’re focusing on how Box can help you get more out of your information than ever before possible.

Today, we’re announcing all new ways to capture, share, and consume information in the cloud. We’ve overhauled Box on the web and iOS to create a truly seamless and beautiful content experience, both efforts largely driven by our recent acquisitions of Crocodoc and Folders. We’re also introducing a new way to create and collaborate on content with a new product called Box Notes. And finally, we’re enabling you to add rich context around your content with customizable metadata.

In all cases, we’re moving information to the front of your Box experience. Whether you’re reviewing blueprints on Box, presenting a PowerPoint deck from the Box iPad app, or brainstorming with colleagues in a Box Note, the information you’re working with should be the focus, and the technology itself should fade into the background. All of this helps move information within and beyond your business more quickly and effectively.

Information velocity is going to transform how individuals work and how organizations operate. Over time, it will even revolutionize and modernize entire industries.

At the individual level, we now expect simple, always-connected experiences in both our personal and work lives. We’re more mobile than ever before, working from a multitude of locations, devices and applications. This trend is perfectly encapsulated by a single statistic: there will be more tablet computers sold in Q4 of this year than personal computers. And with these devices, we have instant access to an unprecedented amount of information.

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But the velocity of information in an era of cloud and mobile doesn’t just affect us as individuals, it also remakes our organizations. This is not surprising: the way organizations function has historically corresponded to the technology available. Steven Sinofsky explains that, “The mainframe was about centralized information and control. The PC era empowered people to first take mainframe data and make better use of it and later to create new, but inherently local or workgroup specific information sources.”

As businesses become more networked, distributed, and collaborative because of cloud and mobile technologies, information refuses to conform to hierarchies, or remain in locked up files or packaged artifacts. The linear, process-centric way of sharing that dominated in the command-and-control period of the mainframe and PC era is neither tenable nor warranted in the modern enterprise. We need new tools that reflect the ways we can share and collaborate around information in this new world.

And this new way of working will be begin to transform entire industries.

Nearly 30 years ago, at the beginning of the personal computer wave, Michael Porter explained that, “[IT] is permeating the value chain at every point, transforming the way value activities are performed and the nature of the linkages among them.”

Today, we’re finally seeing this transformation take hold, and the role of IT is no longer confined to the flow of information within a business. Today’s IT department must find ways to increase the velocity of information at the seams of organizations. In healthcare, that means doctors collaborating with patients and researchers; in manufacturing, it means virtualizing much of the supply chain by connecting vendors, suppliers, and customers together; in financial services, it means new ways that firms can coordinate directly with customers with fewer physical steps or middlemen. To do this, organizations will have to re-imagine critical workflows, connect to clients in new ways, and discover ways of delivering value faster and more fluidly.

We’re in the most exciting period of technology history, and it’s only just getting started. The first 30 years of bringing personalized computing and networks into the enterprise were — in a sense — just preparing us for what’s to come. We look forward to learning more about how information velocity is transforming business from you, the organizations on the bleeding edge, and hope you’re as excited as we are about the role Box plays in helping to boost the speed of business.