Info360 took the Jacob K. Javits Center by storm last week, bringing together names like HBO, Yammer, and Salesforce.com to talk tech shop – the consumerization of IT, mobility, social business, and of course, the cloud. I caught up with one of the day’s keynote speakers, Whitney Tidmarsh Bouck, who serves as enterprise general manager at Box. The premise of Box is – power the hard drive in the cloud enabled by online collaboration and large file sharing. Or, like an FTP on speed.
To date, Box has raised over $160 million, counts more than 11 million individual and 100,000-plus business users, and houses some 450 employees in its new Palo Alto HQ. The company recently debuted more than 30 mobile apps for businesses through developer platform OneCloud. Four tightly integrated apps, like Nuance’s PaperPort Notes for voice dictation and Adobe EchoSign for those all-important contracts, let users work on their mobile devices and synch everything back to their Box account.
Bouck, who joined the Box team about a year ago, elaborated about her role, growing enterprise clientele, and why a sense of “startup” just works for her. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
You had an interesting transition, going from data-storage technology company EMC to Box. You’ve even had stints at Oracle and Sybase.
Bouck: “I was definitely looking for more of a small company again, and doing more of the startup thing. I had a very, very picky criteria list and it just so happened that Box was the perfect match…it was right at the pivot point when Box was looking to really extend into more of the enterprise market, and while they’ve had a huge growing success, and we’ve continued to see, really healthy growth in our SMB and midmarket sectors, it was clear there was massive opportunity to sell to the big companies as well. It just meant a very different model. A different way to sell. A different way to market. Different partner integrations required. Different security concerns. A different buyer.”
What challenges are there, in particular, when you sell to the enterprise as opposed to the SMB?
Bouck: “I really think there are three of them: the trepidation is getting over the hump on cloud. The, ‘Is my data safe in a public cloud environment?’ ‘Is my data safe collocated with other people’s data?’ ‘How do you know it’s my data and not somebody else’s data?’ ‘Can you protect it as well as I could?’ Those kinds of concerns are totally valid and we just sort of expect to have those conversations with every prospective client. It’s normal, and at the end of the day, the only way to get them over that hump is to be incredibly open, and forthright about what we do, how we handle their data, how we do encryption, how their data centers are architected, why we can guarantee uptime. And at the end of the day, they buy when they feel like we’re going to protect their data at least as well as they can.”
How does Box help change enterprise workflow?
Bouck: “I was talking to a man who’s in freight and trucking (during a CIO Summit) and they’re still using mostly paper…they have 300,000 customers that book on 70,000 routes just in the U.S. and they’ve got 28,000 different brokers who are booking their leg service leg by leg by leg. When they book a leg of service, they generate this obvious kind of confirmation code that the customer ultimately gets, and the salesperson doesn’t get paid until that confirmation code is generated. That confirmation code, right now, is generated on paper, and gets transmitted through email. So, they’re getting (a high) call volume all day long from all these salespeople going, ‘Where’s my verification code?’ They aren’t booking business…they’re answering silly questions! So the idea they have is, ‘Why can’t we create for each one of these brokers we’re working with, a private folder in Box where we just automatically populate all of these verification notices?’ They get an automatic notice and boom! No phone call. It’s all there. They reference what they need when they need it.”
How has BYOD (bring your own device) and mobility changed the enterprise, as well as customer experience?
Bouck: “I think we’re shifting a little bit from a world where it’s just about the employee having everything they need to service the customer, but does the customer have everything they need to self-serve? And I think that’s really important, too. It promotes the idea of transparency and value to the customer that isn’t all about the phone call or email or chat session-but lets them find on their own what’s relevant to them, and I’m not talking about a traditional website or help database.”
What’s a key takeaway from your keynote?
Bouck: “What I’m most excited to talk about are some of the examples of how people are really starting to adopt mobile and cloud technologies, and how mobility can change the way we work if we embrace it properly. It’s not just about email and calendaring on mobile, and it’s not just about getting corporate documents. It’s about being part of the corporate workflow – decision-making, and changing the process of how we do things.”
Let’s end this on a light note. Describe a day in Box culture.
Bouck: “Wicked smart. We don’t hire anybody who isn’t brilliant, which is great, because it makes it a really invigorating place to work…we hire people who are more interested in making Box succeed than making their own mark on the world. By nature, we’re very collaborative, but we’re also very fun-loving. We have kind of a wacky culture…one of our corporate values is bring your wacky self to work each day. And, believe your epic ideas are possible. And ‘make your mom proud’ is another one. So it’s really about having fun with what we do, but thinking really big and being very ambitious for Box.”