Stop the presses. Box built a new user interface (UI) for its enterprise sync and share apps. Perhaps it’s a little rude to say so, but who cares?
Those of us who have been watching the enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) market for a few years know that one vendor innovates and in the next few weeks another catches up or comes up with something compelling of their own.
New features cause us to drop our jaws at first. Then they become ordinary.
Give 'Em What They Want
Yes, we're being more than a little sarcastic and superficial. In the enterprise, snazzy wrapping paper and functionalities that delight matter. In fact, they matter quite a lot because if users don’t love the experience, “they’ll use something else,” said Chris Yeh, the company’s senior vice president of product and platform.
Box gets this. It’s why the team spends days listening to user requests and weeks (maybe months?) building UI’s and the features users request.
And they do all of this on the front end while at the same time keeping the enterprise secure in the cloud. Add to that that they have to keep the implementation easy.
“It’s a balance,” said Yeh, explaining that there’s not much room for sacrifice on either end because Enterprises that aren’t delighted can switch EFSS providers without much trouble at all. It’s very different from an on premise enterprise sale of yesteryear.
And in order to keep and retain customers there’s a great deal of listening to do to not only to find out what they want, but to also understand how they do their work. Add to that, there’s a need to make and keep IT happy lest they block you out of the Enterprise for not making the grade when it comes to safety.
“We’re bridging that gap while leaning into the enterprise” said Yeh.
Not only that, but they’re also going beyond base functionalities like “sync mobile and web” by adding or enhancing social, business process management (BPM) and workflow features. The latter are still in their early stages but evolving quickly, according to Yeh.
Box’s new features take advantage of functionality built on iOS 8 and include an ability to unlock your Box app with Touch ID, “Favorites” and a “Today’s Extensions” widget.
Your Fingerprint is the Key
Who wants to deal with user names and passwords when your fingerprint can be used to positively identify you? Box now offers support for Touch ID for Phone 5.S, 6, and 6 Plus users on iOS 8 By using Touch ID in lieu of a passcode, you have an extra layer of app-specific protection.
The Widget Opens the Door
Accessing your most recent files, creating notes and capturing photos and videos and saving them to Box ought to be easy. Yeh says that with Box’s new Box widget it is.
In a blog post he writes, “Add the Box widget to your Notification Center and when you swipe down from the top of your iPhone screen, you'll be able to access up to five of your most recent files, create a new Box Note, capture photos or videos and save directly back to Box, and have one-tap access to your favorite and offline files and folders."
Among interesting use cases that could be enabled by the Box widget might be, for example, an insurance adjuster taking a picture of an automobile crash damage and uploading it to Box, so that others involved in processing the claim can view it in Box.
It’s on Box’s radar to do something similar with CAT scans so that healthcare professionals can easily share and collaborate.
The aforementioned present examples of how Box is moving from a simple EFSS solution to a content collaboration solution that handles workflows and BPM.
Simpler, Less Cluttered, More Accessible
Box’s other new features include an inbox of sorts that notifies a user when he’s been mentioned in a comment, assigned s task, invited to a folder and so on. “These are streamlined to surface the content that matters to you most,” says Yeh.
The non-essentials have now been stripped out of Box’s header which makes it easier to do what you’re there for—namely to collaborate and to share.
A new “Favorites” feature has been introduced for Box on the web which, like its iOS and Android counterparts, will provide single-click access to your most important files and folders. This feature has also been added to Box’s Content API so that applications built on top of the Box Platform can leverage it as well.
Slick But Safe Collaboration
While users understand that security is a must in the Enterprise, they hate the hassle. So when they encounter roadblocks, they go around them. This is bad for IT, and it’s also bad for Box because if users don’t use it, managers won’t renew their licenses.
One of the places that workers commonly encounter obstacles is while trying to collaborate with someone outside the enterprise. Since you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to do so, they often take the path of least resistance, which is a consumer app like Dropbox (not Dropbox for Business).
Box can’t afford to have this happen, so they’ve included collaboration whitelists in the latest release that let admins clearly define and manage trusted domains for collaboration. When enabled, employees can invite collaborators and accept invitations only from these vetted organizations.
In this release Box is also handing IT a nifty tool with which they can monitor and manage this secure collaboration, it reveals how content flows outside your business — between you and your customers, partners and other collaborators, according to Yeh.
A Step Along the Way
Keeping up with the demands of EFSS users who want consumer-like experiences and solutions that enable rather than hinder their work, while at the same time earning the trust of IT, is a challenge that both Box and its competitors face.
Box handles it masterfully and always gets high scores from analysts, but the same can be said for a handful of its competitors. Where Box can (and is trying to) separate itself out from the crowd is to use these functions and features as the base on which its enterprise content collaboration solutions for industries like healthcare, media and retail are built.
Whether the market hears that message or is too distracted by Box’s financials is a question worth pondering.
Wall St. Doesn’t Understand Box?
While Box co-founder and CEO, Aaron Levie, recently told The Information that his company is misunderstood by Wall St., presumably referring to the company’s balance sheet, Box may be facing another obstacle as well — namely convincing investors that it’s much more than an EFSS solution.
Because if Box is perceived as “Dropbox for the Enterprise” or even on par with its Gartner EFSS MQ co-leaders, it’s not in a winning position to IPO. After all, there will be at least half of a dozen challengers neck-to-neck with it in the Sync and Sharer race who will be either a half of a step ahead of it or a half of a step behind and there will be no clear winner for quite some time.
If Box, on the other hand, can demonstrate that it has established a unique solution that enterprises must have to gain competitive advantage, then the sky is the limit.