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To remain competitive in today's digital age, organizations must make business documents ever more useful, and the cloud can help create an authoritative repository that users can access anywhere.
But there's a hitch. Disparate enterprise applications often rely on their own content silos.
With so many tools and applications running in the cloud, content can become easily fragmented, and there is a need to have an authoritative system of record, said Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, at BoxWorks 2019.
Box is determined to help enterprises overcome content fragmentation to become an authoritative repository for business documents, delivering content services to simplify digital work. Box cloud content management (CCM) now focuses its product development efforts in three areas: rapid integration with enterprise applications, content security and collaboration across the extended enterprise.
Mission-critical business applications
Application integration promises to make CCM an integral part of the digital ecosystem, and Box continues to make enhancements. Over the past year, the company released a series of new SDKs, platform elements and packaged integration hubs for integrating with Oracle, Google G Suite, Outlook and ServiceNow.
Box customers are now developing mission-critical applications using the Box platform. For example, Delta Material Services (DMS), a division of Delta Airlines, relies on Box to power a new B2B application designed to reduce the cycle time in the sales process and increase efficiency. DMS sells airplanes and aircraft parts to aviation customers around the world, and buyers need to access the complete maintenance history for each plane or aircraft part, which the company maintains in an Federal Aviation Administration-certified repository developed many years ago using Documentum. Box integrates with Documentum through a hybrid cloud connector. Relying on semiautomated processes, DMS staffers then directly upload and store the maintenance documents in the CCM repository. Aviation customers can easily find the authoritative information they need to investigate their purchasing decisions over the web, and Delta, in turn, uses its legacy repository of maintenance documents to digitize a key step in the sales process.
Similarly, a private equity investment firm depends on Box to manage investment documents within its collaboration portal. Staffers share structured information about prospective deals using a ServiceNow application, and they access and update lengthy, deal-related documents managed within a CCM repository. Box provides ServiceNow IntegrationHub to connect this employee-facing experience with the underlying repository of record. Controlling access to deal-related information is essential, and Box maintains the security of collaborative teams. Only those people working on a particular deal can access to the relevant document collections.
Box also continues to enhance cloud content management security and compliance capabilities. The company is expanding Box Zones -- its hosting service that geofences content storage within predefined geographical areas ‑‑ into new countries. Over the past year, the company has introduced new capabilities for legal holds, e‑discovery and two-factor authentication for external collaborators.
Perhaps the most innovative cloud content security capabilities are yet to come. Released earlier this year, Box Shield uses machine learning to detect discrepancies in content usage patterns and enforces classification-based security policies against accidental data leakage. Once customers define security categories for their content, Box continuously monitors how users access and use content, identifies new patterns and alerts administrators about potential problems.
Collaboration and workflow
Box also continues to focus on content collaboration, providing access to team spaces through a shared repository. Over the past year, the company introduced additional collaborative capabilities, such as cascading folder-level metadata, simplified sharing, thumbnail previews and large file size support. These features will ensure that Box remains competitive as a platform for team computing across the extended enterprise.
Moving the needle on ad hoc information sharing -- converting content streams into pools and then back again -- is a different matter. In theory, workflow should be an attractive way to channel information streams and reduce reliance on email. However, over the past two decades, many companies tried without great success. It is difficult to replicate the ad hoc communications capabilities of email. A technically savvy person has to first envision the workflow and structure the steps in the activity stream. Sending and receiving email messages often remains the preferred channel for team coordination, leading to the attendant problems of overflowing mailboxes.
Box is also relaunching its workflow product, Box Relay. This redesigned product promises to make it easy for nontechnical staffers to envision workflows, coordinate information streams and reduce the reliance on email. In addition to restructuring the design experience for line-of-business workers, Box Relay embeds content metadata that categorizes content within the Box repository directly into workflow designs. Time will tell whether incorporating content categories within the steps of a predefined activity will finally make ad hoc workflow a viable alternative to email.
The simplicity of digital work
With its ongoing investments in application integration, enterprise security and ad hoc information sharing, Box continues to introduce new directions for cloud content management. Companies can develop innovative applications for content that is reliably stored and managed within a cloud-powered system of record, but the challenge is simplicity -- keeping applications intuitive and adaptable.
Box has a track record for charting the future for digital work. Over the past year, it introduced multiple capabilities to make the enterprise journey more promising and profitable -- mitigating organizational risks, while increasing individual productivity and workgroup performance. Box provides inventive business designers with many capabilities to simplify digital work. Of course, these are not out-of-the-box solutions; some assembly is required.