Saturday, December 30, 2017

Alfidi Capital at BoxWorks 2017

Here we go with another very special description of my experience with the Box ecosystem. I'm talking about BoxWorks 2017, of course, and I attended for more than just the free food. Check out my badge selfie below, and then we can get to work talking about enterprise cloud computing.

Alfidi Capital at BoxWorks 2017.

Box CEO Aaron Levie is still as dynamic and charismatic as ever in his public appearances. He had a nice dig at Juicero's failure: "The only sector not disrupted (by digital tech) is juice." I'm glad I never bought a Juicero machine. There weren't any clear breakpoints between the four eras of content management's evolution he described, but the clear driver of progress is the cloud's ability to rapidly scale up processes. Study up on information governance and encryption key management to know how IT pros manage their secure clouds.

The "wow" moments for me came during some of the product demos. Box workflows now enable assigning business tasks to trusted partners outside the enterprise. The BoxSkills video search can map facial recognition by frame, make tags searchable in a content management system, and extract an entire transcript of a video's conversation into text and closed captions. That is a big leap in machine learning (ML). It can do similar things with audio file searches, and it performs a sentiment analysis of the voices in an audio file. Wow, I mean, like, wow.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky came out for a chat with Aaron Levie. I did not know that these hoteliers started by selling boxed cereal. Mr. Chesky had a bunch of insights to share on innovation, especially on building a team that actually pushes an innovative project. His description of a handcrafted design thinking process is also covered in Reid Hoffman's Masters of Scale podcast, which used Airbnb as one of its many case studies. Yes folks, I pay attention what these experts broadcast.

Building apps without coding is the future of development. Low-code development platforms (LCDPs) are part of the low-code/no-code (LCNC) movement that enables non-computer scientists to build business apps. Box showed off their LCDPs where an amateur's business apps can integrate with workflows and define triggers for actions. The revelation for me is that any API connection (as a process) can be automated, and even blockchain integration is possible with these homemade apps.

American companies must now prepare for the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a very comprehensive regulation that touches any data process touching an EU nation's citizens. Expect serious fines for even inadvertent violations. Businesses developing binding corporate rules (BCRs) for GDPR compliance will pay premiums for "good practice" (GxP) implementation consultants if they don't have in-house EU expertise. They can start by reviewing the Privacy Shield Frameworks the US has worked out with its European counterparts. Cloud providers in particular will need to implement the BSI Cloud Computing Compliance Control Catalogue (C5) and Trusted Cloud Data Protection Profile (TCDP) if they do business in Germany. Attend BoxWorks and you learn about this stuff.

I had an epiphany during the second day's keynote. We need new metrics to evaluate both revenue per user and the cost of API calls per month for cloud companies and the data sector. It's no longer sufficient to process huge numbers of API calls per month, because call usage must be profitable to sustain the cloud enterprise. These metrics work just like revenue passenger miles in the airline sector and ton miles in trucking. Atomized revenue metrics determine whether an enterprise's assets are adding value at their full capacity.

The fun Crystal Ball keynote used a fake "Space Ham" movie production as a vehicle to Box's planned future product functions. No one outside the company will know whether these dream products make it to market. I was more impressed with the audio and video products they already have. The audience was seeded with Box employees for recognition at the end, and they obviously led applause prompts at key moments. Every aspiring enterprise tech startup should learn how to evenly distribute the ringers throughout their sponsored conference. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson gave the closing keynote, and he was a knockout as usual. The dude had galaxies on his necktie, which just reinforces my opinion that he should run NASA. I noticed a typo on his slide showing this 2017's Santa Rosa, California wildfires dated "2018," the wrong year. That's a trivial error in an otherwise flawless presentation on species intelligence, global consciousness, and the humility that comes with a cosmic perspective. He got a standing ovation at the end after totally capturing everyone's attention and imagination. Dr. Tyson is definitely qualified for national and global leadership roles.

BoxWorks exceeded my expectations, just like the other Box events I have attended. If you're putting on a tech show, it needs to be big, loud, and most of all packed with expert wisdom. I will see Mr. Levie and the rest of the team in years to come.