BoxWorks 2016 Fireside Chat with Amazon's Werner Vogels

At the BoxWorks Day 2 Keynote, SVP of Platform and Chief Strategy Officer at Box Jeetu Patel lead a conversation on the future of Box for developers and their partners. They keynote culminated with a fireside chat with Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels and our own, Jeetu Patel.

The pair was welcomed with excitement from the audience, and a bit of playful banter between the two set the vibe. Jeetu kicked things off by asking Werner about Amazon’s guiding principles and philosophies around its innovation.

The pillars of Amazon's success

Vogels outlined Amazon’s relentless focus on five pillars – security, performance, reliability, scalability and cost, coupled with its customer-centric approach to all things, for the company’s success. Another crucial element noted is Amazon's ability to experiment.

At the end of the day it is all about the customer. One strategy that Amazon uses to innovate across all products is A/B testing. Werner shared, "A/B testing is a huge investment that we've become really good at. On the retail side, a typical A/B test has 2 variables in it. Some things work well, some don't." When conducting these tests, they are all-ears when it comes to feedback, "and our customers are great at giving us feedback."

Actions taken from that feedback ultimately serve the customer. Werner explained, "we look for anything to lower pricing and improve experience for our customers. No one will ever say, 'I love Amazon but I wish their prices were higher.'"

From Bookstore to Cloud Storage Provider

When asked about could adoption during his time at Amazon, Werner shared that one of the biggest challenges in the early days was the transition from an online retailing giant known for being the "online bookstore" into a top technology company selling cloud solutions. Amazon may be a retailer, but it's a tech company at the heart.

"Bezos didn’t start Amazon as a book shop, he started it because he was fascinated by the Internet.”

So, what is it really like working with Jeff Bezos? Vogels says that there isn't a week that goes by that he doesn't learn something from Jeff.

"He's an amazing guy – a visionary, thinker about innovation and strategy. That goes for tech, the space, media. All of it. He's a major visionary."

As the session started to wind down, Jeetu asked a few rapid-fire questions:

How do you think Prime memberships will work once Elon Musk jumps in the space?
"I think Jeff has some plans for that."

If you didn't work at Amazon where would you work?
Werner answered, "The government. Some of the sexiest jobs are in government. Not a lot of us consider it, but there is so much cool stuff happening, especially around IOT (Internet of Things)."

What is the strangest thing you've heard somebody ask on Amazon echo?
"I wouldn't know because we value the privacy of our customers," Werner replied with a smile.

In case you missed it at BoxWorks, Box, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), announced the launch of the Box Platform Incubator to foster the next generation of companies building apps for the enterprise powered by Box Platform and AWS. Learn more here

Want a recap of the Platform announcements from BoxWorks 2016? Register today for our upcoming Best of BoxWorks 2016 webinar!

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