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Box, Cisco urge enterprises to adopt digital strategy

Cisco's John Chambers and Box believe IT digitization will impact every business whether they're ready or not.

SAN FRANCISCO —There’s no question that businesses must adapt their strategies to keep up with an increasingly mobile world, and they need collaborative tools to manage those digital assets.

During a sit-down discussion with Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie during the BoxWorks conference here in this week, Cisco's executive chairman and former CEO John Chambers discussed the importance of enterprise digitization. He urged businesses to innovate quickly and rehashed the consequences if they don't.

The impact of digitization will be so profound to those that aren't ready, that even a large number of companies in the Fortune 500 could be out of business in the next decade if they fail to adapt to this transition, Chambers predicted.

"The industry is brutal," he said. "If we don't make the transitions, we are left behind."

During his 24-year tenure as the CEO of Cisco, there were multiple instances where he had to alter the way his company did business to adapt to the IT climate, he said. 

"If you watch the companies that are successful and the ones that fail, it’s pretty simple," Chambers said. "The ones that are successful get transitions. They don't do the same right thing for too long. They know how to reinvent themselves."

Companies such as Uber and Airbnb,Inc., were referenced by Chambers as startups that are changing the industry through digitization, and are now healthy competitors to the norm. This is only the beginning as many digitized startups, mostly from France and India, gain prevalence and drive innovation in the industry, he said.

"Digitization is going to change the whole world and every business," he said. "This will be the next thing to power all of high tech….We get pumped up about cloud or Internet of Everything, but every company in the world will become digital, and [few] have plans to do so today."

Although many companies will eventually try to incorporate a digital strategy into their business model, Chambers predicts that a large majority of companies won't be successful.

"The number one blocker is they won't get the market transition right," he said. "The second thing is they stay doing the right thing way too long….Third is they fail to reinvent themselves. You've got to do that at a meaningful sized company."

IT admins who attended the event noted the adapt to survive notion is the reality of IT.

"The way technology has increased over the last few years, you have to stay on your feet and change with the technology," said Homer Martinez, an MIS communications analyst at McCoy Corp., a building supply company in St. Marcus, Texas.

We get pumped up about cloud or Internet of Everything, but every company in the world will become digital, and [few] have plans to do so today.
John Chambers Executive chairman, Cisco

If companies don't adapt to the innovations of their industry, they won't be in business much longer, said Scott Nguyen, associate director of IT, at Halozyme Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology and healthcare-focused company based in San Diego, Calif.

"We are in the information age, so companies evolve," he said. "If you don’t adapt you die. Competitors will pop up, they’ll move faster and be a lot more agile, and they’re going to take market share."

Box Governance adds Legal Holds 

Following the digital strategy chat with Chambers, Box demonstrated some tools that help companies manage their digitized business.

To make Box stronger in the areas of content management, the company showed off its new Legal Holds capability, to be integrated into its file sharing platform next year. This will be part of the Box Governance package that was released in June that helps companies meet their legal requirements.

Legal Holds will allow users to place a "hold" on content they have in Box, so it won't be deleted. This allows companies to properly preserve content that may be relevant in a lawsuit.

"Legal Hold is very interesting for pretty much any company," Nguyen said. "I absolutely could see a big use case for it."

Tracking down lost files that are needed for legal matters can be a chore, Nguyen noted. 

Another content management tool introduced at BoxWorks is Device Trust, due later this year. The tool validates a device's security prior to authorizing that device’s access to content in Box. The new feature from Box aims to make IT a little more comfortable in managing devices it does not control, including ones owned by employees.

Additionally, Box added a new watermarking feature to the platform, where shared documents can be watermarked with a user’s email address. This allows for protection and tracing capabilities.

IBM partnership

Box and IBM inked a partnership in June, and new integrations to the Box platform are available as part of this deal.

IBM StoredIQ is a tool that allows customers to migrate on-premises content to the cloud. The new solution, available now, will address major challenges many businesses face including compliance and records management, Box said. 

The companies also demonstrated IBM Content Navigator, which allows users to search for content across their on-premises and Box cloud environments through a single window.

Ramin Edmond is a news writer with TechTarget's End User Computing media group. Contact him at

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What is your company's digital strategy?
We’ve actually been working on digitizing our information for quite some time now. It really started as a move to get more of our content into a digital format, and grew from there to include the supporting metadata about that content, and then on to non-asset related information.
This article includes some good advice from John Chambers that is applicable to more than just digitization - "The ones that are successful get transitions. They don't do the same right thing for too long. They know how to reinvent themselves." You can’t rest on your laurels if you want to remain successful, you need to be open to changing how you do things.
Agreed. Interesting article and insight from John Chambers. It's an ever-changing shift in how we look at the current/future state. Being comfortable in dealing with ambiquity and taking risk are the true differentiators.