There’s a reason why Dropbox is one of the defaults for saving Microsoft Office documents: 35 billion of them already live in the cloud file storage service. And though some might be homework assignments, recipes, directions to soccer fields and such, a large portion of them are about business.

Yet according to a recent survey only nine percent of work documents are stored in a company-sanctioned file sharing service.

This spells h-u-g-e  o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for Dropbox for Business. After all, Dropbox is the unofficial file sharing service used by most workers. All Dropbox for Business needs to do to win the market is to earn IT’s blessing.

The company is working feverishly to do exactly that.

Growing Features

In the past six months it's added enterprise-grade features like:

  • View-only permissions for shared folders, passwords for shared links, and expirations for shared links
  • An open API for developers to create enterprise applications and apps on top of the Dropbox for Business platform
  • Project Harmony which shows who else is viewing or editing the file; automatically checks to see if there’s a more recent version of the file and gives users the option to update with just a click; generates a link to share the document, without ever leaving the application and more
  • Apps for Windows tablets and phones
  • An “Open” button, so that when users preview a file on the Web that already lives in Dropbox, it can be opened immediately in its native application. No extra steps required.

Now There Are Groups

Today the team at Dropbox for Business is releasing another much requested feature, “Groups Functionality” which:

  • Give users the tools they need to create and manage lists of members within Dropbox and easily provides access to specific folders.
  • Helps team administrators keep groups synced with Active Directory (AD) data
  • Offers a groups API for developers to help customers to integrate Dropbox for Business groups with their existing IT systems
  • Makes it possible for IT admins to integrate directly with their Active Directory and LDAP solutions which allows groups in Dropbox to stay in sync with AD and LDAP user data.
  • Helps you manage all your user accounts on one system

Groups was initially released to 12,000 customers through an early access program in November. It was extremely well received. As of today, it’s generally available.

All-In-One Solution

Waseem Daher Photo.jpg

What’s the big deal? “It was our most requested feature,” said Waseem Daher, a product manager at Dropbox for Business.

He explained that it allows IT to manage all user accounts in one system. Not only that, but the Groups API will help industry-leading identity management and DLP providers — including CloudLock, Netskope, Bitium, Elastica, OneLogin, Okta, Ping Identity, Centrify, Skyhigh, and Windows Azure build integrations to help admins scale team management. They’re already in the process of doing so.

Karl McGuinness, Okta’s senior director of identity, explained, "With the new groups API, we have the opportunity to further integrate our service with Dropbox for Business and allow IT to more easily manage teams in a scalable way. It will allow joint customers to provide seamless access so employees are more productive, while also minimizing the pain often associated with team management.”

Welcome, CIOs

Groups functionality is an important new feature for Dropbox for Business for two big reasons.

First it gives Dropbox for Business customers what they asked for and need.

Second, it gives IT yet another reason to welcome Dropbox into the Enterprise, which is a clear turnaround from what they’ve been doing for years, trying to keep it out.

The latter, mind you, has been a fruitless effort. Dropbox already is the default file sync and share tool in the Enterprise whether IT approves of it or not.

The management team at Dropbox keeps making it easier for CIOs to meet their users where they want to and already are doing business.

It’s a smart move.