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Dropbox for business API signals new trend for file-sharing apps

The Dropbox for business API may signal that file-sharing app companies are now striving to become platforms with which to integrate other apps.

Traditional storage and enterprise content management vendors are facing a challenge from file-sharing companies like Box and Dropbox, which users often find easier to use and work with than enterprise content software, which can be complex and clunky. File-sharing applications don't require training or logins and work with many devices and business applications.

"Above all, [file-sharing applications] offer simplicity and ease of use," said enterprise technology reporter and content management expert, Ron Miller. "They give us access to our files on any device at any time … and saving, accessing and sharing files with these tools is really easy. Contrast that with big, clunky enterprise software that tries to do everything under the sun, and people have been using workarounds for years." While Miller acknowledged that ECM software is making strides, file-sharing applications can have a leg up with users because of their ease of use.

But file-sharing services offer more piecemeal services than does ECM software, and these companies "know they can't do it all" in terms of offering a rich feature set, Miller said. As a result, companies like Dropbox, which recently surpassed 100,000 customers, are releasing application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable better integration between its application and others, so companies can get the functionality they need by integrating multiple apps. The Dropbox for Business API is designed to make team sharing of files easier, as well as to aid with security.

"When companies do this, they increase the value of the platform; it's more than just a simple product, it's an ecosystem," Miller said.

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This was last published in January 2015

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Does your company use ECM software in the cloud? What about collaboration software?
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We're a small group within a larger company, but we've been using "Slack" (@slackhq) for several months now and it's incredibly useful as a collaboration tool. It's essentially eliminated about 80% of email for the team, and there is long-lived history of discussions - which are great for onboarding, or going back to old ideas. Lots of API integrations (GitHub, Trello, File Sharing) makes it easy to integrate with other services. Highly recommend it. 
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Dropbox and Box are great for putting files up in places and even sharing them with others. The challenges I still see is that, for some, the ability to share a file and collaborate on it is still a little hit and miss. Using Dropbox as an example, I've counseled people who wish to do collaboration to share folders and then put in the files they want to work on in those folders, since sharing individual files often means those files don't reflect changes made to them. Still a ways to go on the collaboration side, but they are making good progress :).
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