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Box cloud content management adds PDF tools, boosts security

Box partners with Adobe in releasing a new set of PDF tools that can be used within Box's content management cloud to enable electronic signatures and document archives.

Box Inc. previewed on Thursday the fruits of a partnership with Adobe that, next year, will bring deeper PDF integrations into Box's cloud content management environment.

The tools, which connect Box to Adobe's web PDF viewer, will save clicks for front-line employees who work with PDF documents by enabling repetitive tasks to be performed from Box instead of in separate, unconnected desktop or browser apps.

Many of the new tools will be familiar to front-line enterprise users of Adobe Acrobat and Reader, including PDF creation from standard Microsoft Office file formats; adding electronic signatures to PDFs and recording signature activity; and exporting PDFs to editable file formats such as Microsoft Word and rich-text format (RTF).

Regulated industries the target of Box PDF features

Adobe and Box first partnered to hardwire basic PDF features into Box in 2016. The new features augment what users can do to a PDF without leaving Box's desktop or mobile app.

Because content isn't editable in PDFs, the format has become a document archiving standard. Therefore, extending PDF features gives Box new capabilities crucial to document workflows in legal and regulated industries, said Forrester analyst Cheryl McKinnon. The new tools will help Box better compete against large enterprise vendors, such as OpenText and Microsoft.

"Digital signature support also is key," McKinnon said. "Adobe's one of the top providers there."

Adobe's e-signature tools join DocuSign's on the Box cloud, which the company added last year.

Slack, Teams integrations coming later this year

Box previewed the upcoming PDF features at its BoxWorks annual user conference in San Francisco. Other announcements included a planned October 29 go-live for Box Shield security features and content-sharing tools for users of collaboration apps Slack and Microsoft Teams.

McKinnon said that Slack and Teams don't have very sophisticated ways to share -- or limit sharing of -- documents. Box integrations will offer a platform for content owners to manage who sees what documents, and also to update content shared with Slack through a central repository.

Jeetu Patel, Chief Product Officer, BoxJeetu Patel

The Slack integration will be available this month, with the one for Teams set for beta release later in the year, the company said in a press release. Extending Box functionality into other apps -- cloud or desktop -- is core to the company's strategy, said Jeetu Patel, Box chief product officer.

"We like to think of ourselves as the Switzerland of content," Patel said. "We want to make sure the content's with us, but it can be accessed from many applications."  

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