This content is part of the Essential Guide: Cloud and mobile drove content management trends in 2015

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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