Lessons from our CxO Webinar: Architecting IT for the Future with Box, Slack, Zoom, and Okta

I recently had the opportunity to chat with four forward-thinking technology leaders from Box, Slack, Zoom, and Okta to discuss how architecting a best-of-breed IT stack helps today’s IT leaders be more agile and innovative. Below is a recap of my five key learnings.

Special thanks to Diya Jolly, CPO of Okta, Paul Chapman, CIO of Box, Stephen Franchetti, VP of Business Technology at Slack, and Harry Moseley, CIO of Zoom for participating in the panel discussion. If you missed the webinar or want a refresher, you can check out the recording here.

1. More than a place to go—work is a state of mind

There are five billion millennial and Gen Z workers in the world today. The new worker is a digital native, educated by the Amazons, Googles, and Apples of the world. This population grew up in a world of mobile devices, and has different expectations than previous generations.

Today, the user experience is of utmost importance across all the technologies we use in our personal lives. When users get to work, they want and expect the same delightful, productive experience—whether they're logging in at the office, at home, or on the road.

But in the world of enterprise software, a focus on delighting the user has not always been a priority, and much of the panel discussion focused on this consumerization of IT. The success of today’s best-of-breed apps proves that user experience is a top priority for today’s workers, and IT has a huge opportunity to support this change.

“The workplace is much more open, social, collaborative than it ever was before, and I think how you architect your IT landscape to support that is extremely important.” – Paul Chapman, CIO, Box

2. Best-of-breed drives usage, value, and revenue

The expression, "I'll Zoom you later," is indicative of how video communication is now a staple of our technology diet. And when a technology becomes a verb (just Google it!) you know it's best-of-breed.

But that’s not the only way to identify best-of-breed tools: solutions like Box, Zoom, Slack, Okta, and many more, have built strong communities because we all focus on customer success and user adoption. And it turns out that more and more organizations are turning to these best-of-breed solutions. In fact, in the recent blog post, Best-of-Breed vs. Suites, Okta’s COO and co-founder, Frederic Kerrest, shared that, as of June, Slack has grown 40% based on number of customers, and 75% based on unique users across the Okta network. Meanwhile, Zoom has grown by 60% across Okta’s customer network, and the number of unique users has grown by 95%. What’s more, over 77% of Okta customers using Office 365 also adopted best-of-breed apps such as Slack, Zoom, Box, AWS, Salesforce, and/or G-Suite. All of these numbers are growing steadily.

“I think it's not one thing or the other. You can have both and then let the best win.” – Diya Jolly, CPO, Okta

Investment in best-of-breed is an investment in value. As Harry Moseley, CIO of Zoom put it, “You invest in technologies that improve employees’ lives, drive revenue, collaboration, commitment, and loyalty.”

3. Best-of-breed lets you focus on higher value work

As customers enable new tools that are highly reliable, scalable, and user-friendly, they’re able to go beyond traditional IT maintenance, and play a more strategic role in the business. A best- of-breed approach frees IT teams from the day-to-day manual tasks traditionally associated with IT infrastructures.

“As a CIO you get back time to spend on higher value activities and ask better questions such as: How do we take the work out of work? How do we create frictionless experiences for employees where our workers can be their most productive?” - Paul Chapman, CIO, Box

In the early days, what started as “niche” soon became a challenge in interoperability. However, today's best-of-breed tools are increasingly focused on delivering advanced integrations. “These best-of-breed providers are maniacally focused on being the best at what they do, and with interoperability bringing all these best-of-breed services together, innovation in the environment accelerates,” said Chapman.

4. Every company is an integration company

We know users want choice and flexibility, but they also want an integrated and seamless user experience. Those two things have historically been tough to balance. New tools, APIs, and integrations have huge potential to improve processes and remove friction from the employee experience.

Companies can't do that with a single mega vendor. They need open and secure integrations, and it's incumbent upon providers to make sure that we continue to deliver that. The integrations have become the product.

“We use over 300 pieces of software to run our business. We have been intentional about building an open architecture to give the best experience for employees, partners, and customers.” - Stephen Franchetti, VP of IT, Slack


5. CXOs have to tackle the biggest C first: Culture

Companies must realize that “culture” investments need to be as strong as technology investments. They have to have a culture that is wired for change. Today, over 50% of the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000. That’s more than one per month.

“If you look at the companies that are causing the disruption, they are not disrupted by technology. They’re enabled by technology. Technology-enabled companies have a different way of thinking and operating and culturally are different.” – Paul Chapman, CIO, Box

A robust foundation of culture helps CEOs and CXOs build the right IT foundation for the future.

Final Thoughts

New expectations around workplace, a best-of-breed mentality, integration, and culture are all marks of the future of work. Each of our panelists are leading the way there. The best IT leaders will be following their lead, architecting platforms that enable these secure and productive workplaces.

Interested in viewing the panel and hearing their explanations and advice first hand? Watch a replay of the full webinar.