Battelle puts content compliance and security at the center of life sciences innovation

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Welcome to Work Unleashed, BoxWorks edition. We're recapping and highlighting some of the conversations we had at our biggest event of the year, BoxWorks Digital. We heard from business and IT leaders shaping a new era of work, who shared best practices for enabling teams in a work-from-anywhere world.

Battelle, the world’s largest independent nonprofit research and development organization, is a leader in leveraging data and science to fight disease and improve human health. Helping solve for a lack of PPE in critical care facilities has been one of the biggest challenges of the pandemic. Battelle is on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 with its recent introduction of a critical care decontamination system quickly and at scale.

David White, CIO, Battelle, sits at the helm of the company’s mission to accelerate digitization in the ways it works. In a recent conversation with Box CIO Paul Chapman, White talked about how his IT organization has upheld the company’s slogan, “It can be done,” even and especially in a pandemic. 

A partner for complex security and compliance needs

Around five years ago, Battelle partnered with Box to tighten up content compliance. The company works with a range of customers in areas from neurotechnology to pharmacology to emerging infectious diseases. It’s beholden to FedRamp, GxP, and various FDA rules and regulations. Choosing Box for cloud content management was a way to ensure that all content would be kept secure and in compliance even as multiple teams and external stakeholders collaborated on projects. 

“In order for us to be comfortable using a platform,” says White, “we have to be comfortable that not only do we have our security act together, but you have your security act together.” Box and Battelle worked together from the start to make sure every compliance need would be met. 

Putting content security protocols in place early on has been fortuitous for Battelle, especially as the company has become a bigger target recently. At the same time, new government regulations are constantly being put in place, such as the CMMC (cybersecurity maturity model certification), a certification and compliance process developed by the Department of Defense to certify that contractors have controls in place to protect sensitive data. A central content repository on Box ensures Battelle can stay secure and in compliance even as laws change and cybercrime becomes more sophisticated.

A mindset shift around collaboration

As the pandemic descended, Battelle had already begun a massive ERP replacement process, bringing in national consultants to set up an open-floor project space in order for teams to collaborate more closely. But with COVID-19, close physical collaboration is no longer optimal. In fact, as White says, “It’s the opposite of what you want.”

As teams were sent home to work remotely, he says, “We were very concerned we were going to lose productivity. Ironically, we’ve actually been more productive, and we’ve seen some things we didn’t anticipate.” Consultants who had previously been commuting from other states on Mondays and Fridays were now available full-time remotely. In fact, without commuting in the mix, most of Battelle’s staff suddenly had more focused time for meaningful work. “Now,” White reports, “the issue is making sure to schedule breaks, because people are working too much and too hard.”

A future approach to nimble work

“The most sage advice I can give is to be prepared for the unanticipated,” White says of leaders having to navigate in an uncertain time while stepping up their digital capability. “Who would have known that we would be where we are today? Successful organizations nimble enough to roll with the flow can change the way we operate to be with the new norm. When we do get back into the office, we’re going to be agile.”

As White and other technology leaders are learning, the organizations that emerge from this time as leaders will be the ones successfully able to transition from remote to in-person work nimbly and without major disruption to their business. 

Watch the full session from BoxWorks Digital below!