First off, let’s get one thing straight: Box is not in the Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) business.
“We certainly do that,” says Box executive Whitney Bouck, every time I ask her if Box is an EFSS provider. “But that’s not where the value is,” she always adds “that’s table stakes.”
So what does Box do? According to its SEC S-1 registration it is “a cloud-based, mobile-optimized Enterprise Content Collaboration platform that enables organizations of all sizes to easily and securely manage their content and collaborate internally and externally.”
How’s that for an elevator pitch?
Not too good. But, to be fair, it probably wasn’t crafted to be one.
You Say Tomato, I Say Enterprise Content Collaboration
But if you look at the taglines on Box’s site they say things like “With Box you get secure cloud storage, sharing and collaboration on any device” and “In the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing.” Publications like TechCrunch say that Box wants to be “the leading cloud storage provider for the enterprise,” so can you blame anyone for saying, “Box is just like Dropbox but for business”?
And that perception is a huge problem.
Why? First of all, there is a Dropbox for Business that’s growing quickly, in terms of its popularity, its enterprise viability and its base of 80,000 business customers. Box would be in a losing game if it tried to be Dropbox for Business, especially at this point and time.
Why? Because, all things being equal (or even perceived to be equal) Dropbox’s 300 million users would rather work with a product they use in the rest of their lives, especially now that you can access all of your stuff -- personal and work -- from the same app Dropbox app. (Dropbox provides enterprises with a way to secure, control and protect their information behind the scenes.)
And, for what it’s worth, Microsoft is taking a similar strategy so that you don’t have to look for your stuff according to the role you play in your life.
But for Box, competition from more widely used solutions is only a small part of the problem.
The real issue is that Box has pivoted (saying “grown beyond” is an understatement) from the business it was in when it was founded more than nine years ago and they don’t make it obvious. Box could just as easily be considered to be a lighter weight, more widely used, collaboration-enabled EMC Documentum, OpenText reimagined, or a Microsoft SharePoint that is more open and more appreciated.
Not only that, but Box has an industry specific solution set that makes it possible for businesses to leverage the right content across a business process relatively easily. Granted, the solution that provides that capability, Box for Industries, is still evolving. But it may be Box’s winning ticket to the future and, possibly, to a successful IPO. It’s what makes Box recognizably different from the other 90+ EFSS providers.
A Commitment to Trust
All of that being said, earlier today Box introduced Box Trust, an initiative through which Box and its Box Trust partners will work together to bring additional security to their mutual customers. Born of Box customers’ needs to have even more security than Box offers, Trust is about a commitment between Box and any one of its 19 partner vendors to work together to deliver the data and content protection that they need.
“Companies are asking both of us (Box and Box Trust partners) to get on this together,” says Bouck. As a result Box and its 19 Trust partners will put resources behind the initiative.
Box Trust ecosystem partners include Symantec, Splunk, Palo Alto Networks, Sumo Logic and OpenDNS who are new to Box as well as Skyhigh Networks, HP, Okta, MobileIron, CipherCloud, Recommind, Ping Identity, Netskope, OneLogin, Guidance Software and Code Green Network.
For what it’s worth some of the same partners have committed, or have already created Apps on Dropbox for Business’ platform.
“We have lots of proven history with these partners,” says Bouck when asked about how Box’s initiative will produce results that one-up Dropbox. ”We’re talking about what’s been done as opposed to what’s possible,” she adds.
Box also introduced a new Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) app today which is intended to enhance secure enterprise collaboration and content access across mobile devices. Leading mobile security vendors like AirWatch by VMware, Dell and MaaS360 by Fiberlink will support integrations with Box for EMM, enabling customers in globally distributed organizations to easily stay connected and productive without compromising critical security requirements and access control.
The AirWatch relationship, as far as we can tell, is not new, but the app is.
Is Box Trust and Box’s EMM a big deal?
If you already use Box and you need extra protection around your files, you bet. As for anyone who’s shopping, it’s likely that competing vendors in the EFSS space will offer something comparable soon, if they don’t already. This is what competition engenders.
Time to Shake the Past Off
Box’s real value will shine through when it figures out how to get rid of its EFSS label and become known as an Enterprise Content Collaboration solution and as customers begin to realize related productivity gains. Initiatives like Box Trust and Box EMM are valuable in that they offer a salve for company worries.