Aaron Levie is on a mission. The Box co-founder and CEO has a dream: he wants workers everywhere to have hassle-free access to the documents and other content they need to do great work from anywhere, at any time, using any computer or mobile device.
Levie doesn’t want to deliver this capability to only the “Suits” but to anyone who works with content during their daily grind. And in an age where creating, referencing, sharing and collaborating on documents, images and other files is, increasingly, at the center of what we do day in and day out, this could mean everyone who gets a paycheck. That’s quite a sizeable number of subscriptions/licenses to sell and quite a dream.
Yesterday at BoxWorks, Box’s second annual user conference, Levie unveiled an “all-new Box” which is supposed to make it easier than ever for Box’s more than 14 million individual and 140,000 company clients to discover information, connect with collaborators and engage with content.
“People and content are at the heart of every business,” said Levie, during his conference keynote. “Our customers are transforming how they power collaboration and manage business information across applications, mobile devices and the cloud. Box’s mission will always be to deliver innovations that help them lead that transformation.”
Document Management for the People, By the People
And though it’s a bit of an aside, take note of Box’s messaging. Levy says that customers are changing the way they work with information -- that they’re collaborating, being “social,” being mobile and storing their information in the cloud -- and that Box is providing a service to make those efforts easier by managing the information for them and moving the technology out of the way.
Contrast the messaging that Content/Document management vendors used years ago that promised to keep CEOs out of jail. Box’s messaging is about empowering workers, more traditional Enterprise Document Management messages have been about protecting their bosses’ backs.
Content management is now as much about “the people” as it is the brass.
Connecting the Social Dots
You can’t talk about people without talking Social, especially in this day and age, and Box gets that. So the “all new box” includes some nifty (and useful) features such as including a pictorial list of the people you work in the right hand side bar of your Box screen, making it easier for you to connect with them. It also provides users with the ability to find coworkers who are also using Box by surfacing them via their corporate email IDs (which you provide).
The new Box experience will also give users an easy way to give each other a pat on the head via a new “like” feature. Some companies might see this as an easy (and, yes, potentially dangerous if the rules aren’t set right)) means by which to “approve” a document, to give someone a goldstar for their efforts or extend a compliment.
Taking the Pain out of Discovery
While Levie might not have actually uttered the all too familiar words “we’re putting search at the center of things” during his keynote, Box is doing that too. This functionality will allow users to see relevant results as they type in the search bar and be able to hover over a file to see who created it. Tasks and pending messages are in the header, too, so with a click users can find what they need to work on, no matter where they are.
Create and Edit without Leaving Box
Editing content in the cloud sometimes proves to be a bit of a drag because users typically need to leave what they’re doing and go open the program that the file was first created in. Not anymore, if you’re a Box user.
Box’s newly released Box Edit feature allows for content editing from Box’s preview page -- images, PowerPoint presentations and even CAD files -- as long as the programs are already installed on the user’s computer. Box Edit can also be used to create new Word, Excel or PowerPoint files without leaving Box (assuming you’ve purchased a license) and its enhanced lock/unlock functionality enables document locking while in-edit so that no one else can make conflicting changes.
Is the All New Box a Big Deal?
Is the New Box Experience truly revolutionary? Probably not, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What Box does, and it does it well, is give workers a built-in ability to use Content Management and Collaboration technologies at work with the same ease and comfort as they use other technologies in their personal lives. And when we’re talking about heavy and often hated Enterprise software, that’s huge.