Box is rapidly deploying its cloud content management platform to digitize essential business operations with intelligent content, content discovery capabilities and seamless integration with new apps, vying to become the enterprise content hub by taking on bigger competitors such as Microsoft, IBM, Google and OpenText.
"The next five years in content management will be completely different from the last 20," said Jeetu Patel, chief product officer at Box. Gone are the days of self-contained repositories that simply store, produce and archive business documents. The key to success entails knowing where your content resides, how to best access it and weaving the content into high-value experiences that solve business problems. The enterprise content hub is where that all begins, and Box is positioning itself to become that focus.
Along the way, Box has picked up some blue-chip customers highlighting its capabilities across multiple industries. Here are several examples of next-generation enterprise applications:
- The Metropolitan Police Service of London relies on Box to store and organize closed-captioned television files from thousands of cameras around the city, making it easier to search and share evidence.
- A national liquor distributor uses Box to manage detailed product information scanned from beverage labels. This allows the company to easily distribute inventory from an increasing number of microbreweries, boutique wineries and small lot distilleries.
- A fast-growing multilevel marketing firm deploys Box to ensure its independent consultants have the latest promotional videos, marketing collateral and product information readily at hand, continually updated to match their communities of interest.
These organizations are transforming mission-critical activities. And there's a common thread connecting these seemingly disparate experiences. Blending text with rich media, each organization relies on the flexibility and extensibility of Box as an enterprise content hub for organizing, securing and sharing content.
Updates to Box
En route to remaking itself from a document storage and content management platform and into an enterprise content hub, Box is adding intelligence to its content services suite, automating the population of metadata via machine-learning algorithms. It also plans to provide support for folder-level metadata to enable bulk updates and cascading inheritance.
Jeetu PatelChief product officer at Box
Content discovery capability is another area of investment. Announced last year and in beta now, Box Skills is a framework for applying third-party AI and machine-learning technologies. Box provides prebuilt connectors, known as Basic Skills, to AI/ML services from IBM and Google, featuring capabilities such as automatic image recognition, speech-to-text transcription and streaming video analytics. The Box Skills Kit, a developer toolkit that enables the use of any AI/ML algorithm for discovering and adding intelligence to content within Box, is scheduled for release in December 2018.
Box has also long supported seamless connectivity to Microsoft Office apps and is now extending these capabilities to a wider range of personal productivity experiences, exemplified by its recent announcements at its BoxWorks user conference.
- New integration capabilities with Salesforce, Service Now and Quip. Users can continue to work in their preferred enterprise apps while still having access to related content maintained in Box.
- Native support for G Suite apps. G Suite users will be able to create and edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides from within Box. Google files are automatically saved and managed in Box, allowing IT to apply consistent security, compliance and governance.
- Email attachment support for both Gmail and Outlook. Using their respective email clients, end users can save files to and attach files from Box, streamlining their activities while centralizing content in Box.
Box beta releases aid collaboration
Box also seeks to proactively channel content flows among team members by launching two innovative capabilities, now in beta:
- Box Feed surfaces relevant content based on the clues and cues within team-oriented content streams. It is comparable to a Facebook feed, but encompasses predefined colleagues within an enterprise. Based on Box Graph, the company's ML service for mapping networked relationships, Feed is designed to help team members stay on top of relevant content by tracking views, comments and more.
- A new activity stream surfaces real-time activity updates from third-party apps, such as Slack, DocuSign and Salesforce. Users have visibility into app activities related to Box files and can use these applications while working within Box. Moreover, Box provides the enterprise-grade security, governance and data protection for these disparate content streams.
Box's enterprise content hub competition
Of course, when it comes to cloud content management platforms, Box faces multiple deep-pocketed competitors, including IBM Content Hub, OpenText's cloud offerings, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox, who all are vying to be the enterprise content hub for its customers.
Box and its competitors are engaged in a marathon that will run for many years. With its continued investments in content services and AI, Box is pulling away from the pack as it continues to launch and maintain applications and experiences that exploit core capabilities of its platform.