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Box workflow gets upgrade with Progressly purchase

Box is hoping to upgrade its workflow capabilities by adding the startup Progressly to its team, while also still partnering with IBM on a separate workflow product, called Relay.

Box last week acquired workflow software company Progressly for an undisclosed amount, with the hopes of upgrading its own core workflow and automation to better suit its customers.

The acquisition of Progressly is an interesting one for document management company Box, as it just last year released Relay, a product it developed in partnership with IBM that is also meant to help companies with workflow management. The idea behind the Progressly purchase, according to analysts, is to beef up the Box workflow capabilities.

"While Box and IBM have been talking about Relay for years, I have not seen much traction of it in the industry," said Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. "I think it will be good for Box to expand the capabilities of their own native workflow engine, increasing the number of triggers and actions that can occur both inside Box, as well as becoming an engine for processes within other tools."

The importance of workflow automation for companies can't be understated. Between onboarding, contract management and other business necessities, a company can save a lot of time and money with a capable automation process.

While the Box workflow capabilities were there, they were described as "rudimentary" by Holly Muscolino, a research vice president at IDC.

"The way [Box] is positioning it is that the software from Progressly, or at least the team at Progressly, will develop software that will go into the core Box product," Muscolino said. "They have a rudimentary workflow in Box, but this will enhance that."

Box also has partnerships established with other business process companies, like Nintex and Pega.  Muscolino said she sees this acquisition as potentially adding triggers to get partner processes automated within Box.

And improving the Box workflow capabilities is not expected to lead to a new product, according to Lepofsky, but rather enhance the existing features within Box.

Native workflow inside Box should be considered more of a feature and not an additional monetary channel.
Alan Lepofskyprincipal analyst, Constellation Research Inc.

"Native workflow inside Box should be considered more of a feature and not an additional monetary channel," Lepofsky said.

Lepofsky added that customers can find more automation capabilities within competitors, like Microsoft OneDrive and Flow. And by beefing up the workflow with the Box acquisition of Progressly, the company is trying to better challenge the other players in the market.

"I think the driving factor was customer need," Lepofsky said. "The opportunity to help automate content-centric workflows is a big step in helping people get their jobs done."

While improving the Box workflow features seemed to be the main reason for the Progressly purchase, Box's chief product officer, Jeetu Patel, also made it clear that the small team of 12 at Progressly was a factor in the acquisition, calling the team in a blog post a "group of highly talented individuals that have created a world-class product with a vision that is directly aligned with the team here at Box."

Patel added that the Progressly team will "allow us to play a bigger role in how Box customers digitize and automate business processes."

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise content management (ECM) workflow

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