Box CEO: Industry’s Facing New Challenges All the Time, On Multiple Fronts

The media industry and enterprise organizations across multiple sectors continue to face new challenges all the time as they continue to embrace the digital age and new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, according to Box executives.

“Markets are changing faster than ever” and “startups are emerging in every single category of product and service,” Box CEO Aaron Levie said during the Box Financial Analyst Day in San Francisco Oct. 12. Box customers always want to know what the next thing is that can “disrupt” their business in some way, he noted, adding that “partner ecosystems are in flux” also.

“We’re dealing with all new threats and regulations” as well, he told analysts. Five, 10 or even 15 years ago, most enterprise companies thought the biggest cybersecurity threats were in banking and stolen credit card numbers were expected to be the main asset that could be compromised, he said. But “now, we’re seeing digital threats and cyber threats in every single category” of business and everybody’s data is a potential target, he said, adding this is all “putting a lot of pressure on IT organizations.”

At the same time, Box keeps seeing new privacy and compliance requirements for every industry. Even if Box clients may not be subject to new regulations, its clients may be impacted by the new requirements and Box can help them to achieve that, he said.

Meanwhile, “outdated information technology and business processes are, in many cases, holding our customers back or prospective customers back,” he also told analysts.

Box has been able to remain ahead of its rivals despite those and other challenges, including increased competition, he went on to say, adding his company has also extended its enterprise capabilities even further over the past year.

In the next five years, the content management sector “will look completely different from what the past 25 have looked like because of the confluence of different factors that are starting to come together,” Jeetu Patel, Box chief product officer, predicted after Levie’s presentation.

Machine learning is one technology that’s advancing rapidly and innovation in that area has “matured to a point where you might actually be able to use” some of the capabilities in “some very creative ways” that include automatically translating a document from one language into another language, automatically detecting objects within an image and transcribing a document from voice to text, Patel said. “Those areas have actually started exceeding the human thresholds of accuracy,” he told analysts, noting that “billions of dollars” are being invested by companies in such AI algorithms and they are “starting to get more and more sophisticated, where the accuracy is getting greater.”

But the “challenge” has been that there’s “no easy way to bring that [AI] back to your content” because the technology is often too complex, even for many large companies, he said.

More than 250 customers are using the company’s new Box Relay workflow solution as part of a beta program, Patel also said. The company has received “remarkable feedback” about Relay so far and it will launch Nov. 13, he said. Relay was developed by Box and IBM, who both announced it at BoxWorks 2016.

The analyst event was held on the third and final day of the company’s annual BoxWorks conference at Moscone Center West in San Francisco. Earlier at BoxWorks 2017, the company announced Box Skills, which it called a “framework for applying state-of-the-art machine learning tools such as computer vision, video indexing, and sentiment analysis to content stored in Box.”

With Box Skills, enterprise organizations “will be able to uncover insights and reimagine business processes that have traditionally been too costly or impractical to digitize and automate,” Box said in a news release. Box also showcased skills powered by IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, as well as Box Skills Kit, a set of developer resources for building custom skills.

“We are in the midst of a revolution in enterprise software driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning, and we are making Box the most intelligent cloud content management platform in the world,” Levie said in the announcement. He added: “As businesses continue to drive digital transformation, they need to realize more value and intelligence from their content. Box Skills is a first-of-its-kind framework that will make it possible to digitize almost any business process on Box.”

Box previewed three initial Box Skills that it said are now in development and leverage machine learning tools from IBM Watson, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to solve common business use cases. Those initial Box Skills are: Audio Intelligence, which uses audio files to create and index a text transcript that can be easily searched and manipulated in a variety of use cases; Video Intelligence, which provides transcription, topic detection and detects people to allow users to quickly find the information they need in a video; and Image Intelligence, which detects individual objects and concepts in image files, captures text through optical character recognition (OCR), and automatically adds keyword labels to images to easily build metadata on image catalogs, Box said.