Dropbox isn’t particularly interested in what Box, Syncplicity, Citrix or any other of the 100 plus companies who are fighting for their share of the enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) market are up to.
“We’re the market leader, we don’t worry about what others do,” said Ilya Fushman, head of product, Dropbox for Business. Instead, he said, the company looks at the features and functions its customers request and builds and delivers those that the make the most sense.
And with 80,000 companies paying to use Dropbox for Business (Box claims 34,000 in the S-1 it filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission), it’s hard to argue with the strategy. It’s clear some buyers opt for the experience Dropbox has to offer vs. who Gartner rates higher in its Magic Quadrant (MQ).
Sharing Content Without Sacrificing Control
That being said, Dropbox for Business’ vision and its ability to execute upon it indicate it’s making its way to Gartner’s Leaders Quadrant anyways.
That’s fairly impressive given that in just 16 months Fushman’s team has built what is necessary to win the blessing of enterprise IT. And that’s not as simple as it sounds because they’ve had to do this without diluting or complicating the Dropbox experience that its 300 million consumer-level users love so much that they save 1 billion files to it every day.
Today Dropbox announces a number of new enhancements and features for Dropbox for Business enabling greater security and control, collaboration, and integration. They have all been designed with a focus on simplicity, powerful control, and scalability.
Documents, and other forms of content, are among a company’s important assets, they are usually meant to be shared with the right people and, often, within a specified period of time. Sometimes files are meant for broad viewing, other times they’re intended for the eyes of specific individual(s), and no one else. When it comes to document editing in the Enterprise, control is a must.
Fushman’s team understands this well. Today Dropbox for Business is introducing:
· View-only permissions for shared folders that let team members determine who can view or edit files within a shared folder they’ve created. This gives folder owners complete control over their files and peace of mind that their company information is in the right hands.
· Passwords and expirations for shared links that create boundaries around who can access content through shared links and for how long.
These are available to Dropbox for Business customers today.
Finding, Collaborating Gets Easier
Fushman said that Dropbox and Dropbox for Business users are lobbing more and more of their files up to the Cloud. And while that’s mighty convenient, finding the right content in short order can be tough. That’s why Dropbox for Business will soon be introducing full-text search which, according to Fushman will bring powerful and fast search right into files within Dropbox. All team members will have to do in type in a word contained in a file and it will instantly appear in the results.
And it’s not only searching for content that can be taxing, unknowingly working on and modifying content while someone else is doing the same can be frustrating, to say the least. Imagine editing a proposal, carefully selecting every image, graphic and word, only to discover that someone else is doing the same at the same time. Instead of working together in harmony, there’s risk of a turf war.
The probability of this happening to Dropbox for Business users should be next to nil, the company introduced Project Harmony earlier this year to circumvent the problem before it occurred.
Why Wait for Downloads with Preview?
Waiting for downloads when you’re not even sure you’ve got the right document is a bit of a drag, that’s why Fushman and his team created document previews to make viewing Microsoft Office files on the web better. Fushman said that they'd soon be bringing that experience to Android as well.
300k Apps and Counting
Dropbox has the largest file-sharing developer community in the world, and it could be key to providing solutions for businesses faster than other EFSS vendors. For that to be possible, they need access to API’s that can be used to build stellar experiences for using Dropbox for Business users.
So it goes to follow that Dropbox is opening its Shared Folder API to give developers access to the core functionality of shared folders in order to provide their mutual customers with the same sharing experience whether they’re in Dropbox or a third-party app.
Ditto for Dropbox’s Document Preview API which lets developers embed Dropbox’s document previews feature directly into their apps, so users can view their Dropbox files without having to switch between windows.
So Dropbox is Committed to Businesses?
For a long time EFSS vendors were referred to as companies who want to be Dropbox for business. That was, of course, before Dropbox decided to build an Enterprise play of its own. Now that it has one, its challenge is to be a better, and more widely used, Dropbox for business than its competitors.
It could be within reach; after all, it has the love of its 300 million member consumer-level users, a strong engineering team, a large developer community, and a market in which the majority businesses have yet to officially bring in a solution.
What’s the unofficial solution they’re using? Dropbox, for the most part. So if Fushman can deliver more of the functionalities that businesses need and want, in short order, this could, over time, be their game to lose.
But the window of opportunity is closing quickly as Dropbox for Business’ 100 plus competitors work day and night to build “better than Dropbox” experiences for end users and the assurances around security and compliance that IT dreams about.
This is no time for anyone in the EFSS market to rest.