If you are a market leader, enjoy your brief moment in the sun — because it won’t last in the digital era. That’s the warning Box Chairman and CEO Aaron Levie delivered to delegates at the company’s BoxWorks conference in San Francisco today.

Business is fundamentally different today in terms of how it operates, how competition works, and the ever-present need to deliver value to customers.

“We know that you have only a couple of years, especially if you’re an incumbent, if you don’t constantly reinvent yourself, if you don’t retool your products, if you don’t retool your culture, if you don’t continue to drive advancements in what you’re delivering to customers.”

According to Levie, the reason is that competition is more intense than ever before. “Startups can get started with just a few lines of code, with infinite scale computing, and are able to go after new industries and disrupt legacy industries as well.”

This accelerated timeline has created an environment where customers have higher expectations than ever before, he said.

“We know the products and services that we want to have to on demand. They have to be real-time. We want them built for us. We want them personalised.”

And the same principle applies to employees. “[They] want to be able to come into an organisation where they can do their work efficiently or they can get their work done easily, and they can be able to collaborate and work together.”

The other big trend he highlighted is a partner ecosystem in a state of flux. “The technology partners that you would have worked with five, ten, fifteen years ago are changing. The partners that you used to have are now becoming competitors, or your competitors are actually companies that you have to partner with to be able to grow, and scale, and get more value as an organisation.”

And finally, companies also need to keep a watchful eye on new threats and challenges such as in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and regulation.

Change

“So all of these parts of our business are constantly changing. And we know that the only way to respond to this is by operating in a fundamentally different way.”

For these reasons, all companies must become digital businesses. “The digital-native companies that have disrupted industries that they’re going after, and the incumbent organisations that are constantly transforming themselves, they transform not just by throwing more software at the problem, but actually by completely thinking like a digital business,” said Levie.

“The way that they work in their workplaces, and the way that they innovate in their culture, as well as the business processes, the operating models of these organisations. The business models of these organisations are fundamentally different.”

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