Digital First

The Future of Business is Digital First

A little over three years ago I quit my job as editor of a business magazine for IT services companies and launched BoxFreeIT to fill a void in IT publishing.

For lack of information about superior cloud alternatives, businesses were running out and buying servers and desktop software.

I assumed that most of what I would write about would be Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, even though the latter hadn’t launched yet. The reasoning was that Microsoft Office was on nearly every computer in the world and that they would one day upgrade to the cloud, so that would be the bulk of the readership.

However, as is common in business, the story turned out a little differently. Google Apps and Office 365 had hardly any customers in Australia back in 2011. The bulk of the market was still very happy running their servers (or boxes, hence the site’s title).

By September I began hearing about these cloud accounting programs and went to Xero and Saasu’s conferences. What I saw blew me away. Accountants in their 20s and 30s walking and talking like IT nerds, passionately espousing their views on the latest business technology. Now this was a story!

Fast forward three years and BoxFreeIT has followed the development of the cloud accounting phenomenon and its gradual adoption by accountants and bookkeepers.

Over that time I realised that the intended audience of SME business owners didn’t care about cloud software. They cared about any technology that could help them run their business better.

Deloitte’s excellent reports on digital disruption made the future even clearer. Businesses needed to know about this wave of digital disruption breaking across industries, how it was sweeping away some business models to make room for others, emerging like pillars from this roiling sea of change.

A clearer purpose required a better name. Digital First sums up a philosophy that suits the challenge facing business owners. In the same way that websites are often designed “mobile first”, so businesses should be built “digital first”.

Why a .com and not an Australian domain? Every SME faces the same journey. We will still cover developments in Australian cloud accounting, but as Intuit expands into Australia and Xero heads overseas, the stories become global too.

Thank you to all the loyal readers of BoxFreeIT. Your continued support, insightful comments and encouraging feedback have made this job a pleasure.

And here’s to the future of small and medium businesses in Australia, New Zealand and the world over.

Whatever line of work we’re in, we all want to find success. Build your business Digital First.


  1. says

    Congratulations Sholto.

    I still recall the day you launched your site, thinking how the times ahead were to shape the way at all do business.

    Who’d have thought that the likes of Microsoft would ever have to change their approach in licensing for the strong hold of desktop application market, only to cut into their own licensing revenues in a shrinking (in terms of price per license) market.

    Keep up the great work.


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