I’ve always been fascinated by how organizations make decisions. When it comes to tools for collaboration, productivity and content management, there are several options on the market. All claim to provide comparable technical features and capabilities. How does anyone ultimately choose?
In my role at Box, I get to hear from all kinds of customers, who are in every imaginable industry, area of the world and stage of growth. I was curious to know how they arrived at their decision to use Box, especially when other, similar solutions were already being considered – or even used by – their organization.
When it comes to making smart choices, our customers shared these seven lessons:
1. Be ready for something different.
Companies are on a mission to truly change the way they think about the employee experience. They’re rethinking how the work experience is woven into one’s life, from the hire date to the last day, from the way they work to when they work.
“So many of our employees expect to have, at work, a very similar experience to when they’re at home,” said Herve, Coureil, CIO at Schneider Electric. “We want to make the experience we provide for employees almost a point of distinction in the marketplace when we attract talent – and mobility is a very key part of that.”
When Schneider Electric chose Box, there were only 2,000 people and a couple of groups using it, but they allowed those people to invite coworkers and colleagues. The invitations went viral, and Schneider Electric now has over 100,000 Box users.
2. Understand that mobility is not a perk.
If employees are going to get work done remotely or on the go – and I mean truly work, in a productive, effective way – then mobile accessibility, reliability and responsiveness have to be mandatory.
When mobility is seen as optional, that’s when companies get into trouble. Some solutions will suddenly stop syncing files properly, forcing you to rebuild the locally stored cache – and to say goodbye to all your settings and locally stored files. Other solutions don’t sync metadata, which is critical for organizing and locating files. On-premises alternatives bring security concerns, since they require VPN. That brings its own set of problems, since VPN can sometimes be moody and cranky – or worse, occasionally kick you out. Nothing crushes productivity quite like losing time-consuming edits or trying to reconcile conflicting file changes.
“We tried to get OneDrive off the ground but decided it wasn't working,” said Gus Shahin, CIO at Flex. Shahin explained that they began their Office 365 deployment with Microsoft OneDrive, which came bundled with the productivity software, but they soon ran into problems. After analyzing all available alternatives, Flex chose Box. “We really liked the way Box syncs, the speed it syncs, the way it renders, the usability,” said Shahin. Flex – and its 200,000 employees worldwide – quickly adopted Box.
3. Maintain a consistent user experience.
Companies need to effectively address diverse needs, like sharing from person to person, collaborating as a team and interacting with partners. Unfortunately, they’re often forced to use different services to meet each requirement, and each service has its own distinct user experience.
Customers found that using multiple services ends up doing the exact opposite: discouraging collaboration. It also introduces friction, since users must log in to different apps to work with different teams.
As you might expect, consistency is a beautiful thing. Box works equally well in any of these situations and end users benefit from the simplicity of a single solution – with a single, intuitive user experience.
4. Make work flow so people can get back to work.
Many organizations need a full life-cycle solution, one that can create, use, manage and destroy documents – and preferably as part of an automated workflow instead of a tedious manual process.
"Box opened up communications across our organization. If I can use content to help marketing connect to engineering, or engineering to sales, and they can improve that relationship and alignment, that's where the value in the knowledge sharing is just explosive." Sheila Jordan, CIO Symantec.
Another clever use of Box workflow automation can be found at a large construction company. Their legal team uses Box to automatically review all incoming contracts. If a contract exceeds $5 million, an SVP is automatically pinged to review the contract before it’s executed by the legal team.
5. Demand security with a great user experience.
Sharing sensitive data among colleagues and business partners is an everyday necessity – and, without the right kind of collaboration solution, a serious security risk.
For example, an apparel manufacturer in the United States has designers working on this year’s new winter jackets. The still-secret designs are created in the U.S., but the jackets will be manufactured halfway around the world, in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam or India. To decide whether their design will result in a commercially viable product, the designers need to go back and forth with the people managing production.
Businesses in their industry can’t take any chances, so they’ll often enact draconian measures to protect against data leaks. Employees might be forced to use corporate-owned devices, work around bans on extending permissions to team sites, deal with complicated federated credentials and suffer through slow VPN connections – made even slower by the lack of high-speed internet in many developing markets where manufacturers’ hubs are commonly located.
These companies might be protecting their bottom line against lost IP, but what’s the cost of lost productivity? There’s nothing more frustrating than sending an email with a design document, but the recipient can’t open it because of a slow network connection or because they need a particular app on their device. Further, these customers don’t have the luxury of training their supply chain how to use complicated enterprise software; it has to just work for them.
Box makes external sharing easy, without compromising security or intuitive user interfaces. Box supports a variety of file types, allowing for native preview of documents, and with the ability to support up to 15-gigabyte file transfers, sharing large design files and images is a breeze.
6. Protect against human error.
An estimated 59% of security breaches occur due to device theft and employee negligence. Education and awareness are important, but companies still need to ensure that some mechanisms are in place to prevent accidental violations. Enterprise, govern thyself!
Box provides audit trails that can be analyzed for risky actions, like an employee attempting to send certain types of documents to specific domains or even to industry competitors – and it can prevent those activities from happening.
7. Put the end users first.
How often have we looked around at past IT investments, only to see expensive “shelfware”?
Perhaps the single most challenging thing about enterprise applications is ensuring end-user adoption. It’s the difference between a profitable investment and a major loss, but the consumerization of IT has shown that transformative change doesn’t have to be a waste of money.
It’s simple: when end users are given the right tools, companies enjoy a return on investment. It’s estimated that collaboration infrastructure operating at 80% capacity is going to deliver four times the returns of one running at 20%.
A financial-services customer recently chose Box, and the positive gains were unquestionable. Compared to what they saw in the entire four years spent using Accellion, the firm saw dramatically higher adoption rates – over 50% – and more data. And that was in just the first three weeks of using Box.
The moral of the story: You’ll never wonder if you made the right choice. Your end users will make sure you know.