IBM and Box

The Making of Box Relay

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At BoxWorks 2016, IBM and Box announced Box Relay – a new and re-imagined workflow solution targeted at business who need to create and track simple workflows.  It not only allows team members within the enterprise to participate in the workflow, but it also supports team members beyond the “four walls” of the enterprise as well.

I often get asked how two very different companies were able to jointly create such an amazing product.  Given that I feel privileged that I was part of this process, I am compelled to share some insights with all of you.

At a first glance, IBM and Box seem very different companies, but they both have the same objective in mind – make the customer successful.  Both companies are hyper-focused on our customers and how to help them meet their business requirements.  This was key in venturing into the territory of creating such a user-centric cloud product.

Very early into the lifecycle of the product, the Box team led us through the process of defining a set of crisp design principles to guide the project.  They became our “north star” and helped us prioritize the work and decide what to focus on.  We clearly saw the transformation in the way the teams worked together.  Initially, we were formal with each other passing requirements and dates back and forth.  Once we started leveraging the set of common design principles, the working relationship moved to a more collaborative partnership, similar to how both companies work with our customers.  At one point, if someone walked into one of our offices, one could not tell who was an IBMer and who was a Boxer.  Yeah!

We also acknowledged each other’s past and experiences.  IBM has a long history of designing, developing, and delivering successful Enterprise Content Management solutions to our enterprise customers.  Box is widely known for the user-centric solutions and interfaces they create.  The teams respected each other’s ideas based on the history that we both have, but we never let the past stop us from reinventing ourselves.

In summary, here is what I learned through this process:

1. Focus on the customer – the main common goal is to make the customer successful

2. Jointly develop a short and concise set of common principles – these will guide the decision making during the project

3. Respect each other’s past and experiences – these will be the stepping stone for how companies look into the future and reinvent themselves

A big Thank You to the amazing teams in IBM and Box that taught us that it is possible for different companies to collaborate and create something wonderful.

See Box Relay in action at the Box booth at IBM InterConnect 2017, March 19-23 in Las Vegas!

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