M+E Daily

Box CEO Explores the Future of the Content Cloud at BoxWorks

Box CEO Aaron Levie shared his company’s vision for the content cloud during the opening keynote at BoxWorks 2021 on Oct. 6, including announcements about the future of the Box content cloud. He also explored how technology is shaping the future of work, while examining the pivotal role that content now plays in every organization.

“When we started Box in 2005, we had a really simple mission: We wanted to make it easy and secure to access and share files from anywhere,” he recalled. “It was really to help power how the world works together.”

Back then, many people were using BlackBerry mobile devices and still stuck with “slow modems,” and “just were starting to see interactive applications in our browsers,” he said. “But, even then, we had a very clear vision that the future of work was going to be completely different.”

Today, Box serves over 100,000 customers on the Box platform and “we work with over 67 percent of the Fortune 500” firms, he said.

“We want to shape how the world works together and the trends that are driving work are only accelerating,” he told viewers of the virtual event. “Over the last year, we’ve seen the start of a fundamental shift in how people work together. We have moved into remote and virtual environments. We’ve had to take care of all of these new challenges that we face in our personal lives and in business environments. And work is changing in some fundamental ways.”

Business leaders “have a really important decision to make” now, he said. “As the pandemic hopefully begins to get reduced and as we have a new way of dealing with this environment that we’re in, we’re going to make a decision: Are we going to go back to how things used to operate or are we going to find new and more flexible ways of working, ones that leverage the ingenuity and creativity of individuals and also allow us to hire and expand in more locations than ever before and work in completely new ways? And at the heart of all that is going to be how technology leaders make key decisions about what the future of work is going to look like for your respective organizations.”

When it comes to how work has changed, there are “three big areas that we’re focused on at Box,” he said. “The first is that we know work is happening from anywhere. You need to be able to work from any device in any location all around the world and at any time, which means we need simple technology that we find very easy to use so we can do our collaboration and communication and be able to work together without any hassle or friction.”

Second, Box also knows that “every experience with our customers and our partners have to go digital” and “we have to be able to streamline our workflows,” as well as “digitize all of our client onboarding and working with our partners,” he said.

Last, “we also face new cybersecurity threats and data privacy challenges that are fundamental to where the future of work is going,” he told viewers, adding: “These shifts are driving transformation in every single industry.”

Content is “at the heart of” all the work that companies across media and entertainment, banking and all other sectors are doing, he said. Content of all kinds, including films and TV shows, contracts, invoices and other data, is “increasingly our customers’ business” and it is “flowing in and around our businesses more than ever before and we’re creating this content at an ever-growing rate,” he noted.

However, “today’s content management technologies are fundamentally holding us back,” he said, explaining: “They’re holding back our ingenuity. They’re holding back our speed of business. They’re creating cybersecurity and data risks in our organizations. And that’s because we have technology all over the place where content is going. We have network file shares that are legacy platforms where data is going. We have content management systems that aren’t very easy to use for end users. We have personal storage tools that create shadow IT problems and don’t integrate to our traditional business systems. We have communications apps that create more data silos where content is going and being stored in. And we have line-of-business tools where we have to be able to collaborate with our customers or partners or our broad business ecosystem and we can’t have further fragmentation of our data.”

The end result is that, “at the same time where content is more important than ever before, where we have to use content to run our businesses, we have information that is strewn about so many different platforms and working in fundamentally broken ways,” he said.

To solve all those problems, Box has “built the world’s most powerful content cloud,” he pointed out, adding that Box’s goal is to “be the content cloud that powers the complete life cycle of content,” Levie explained.

Virtual Investor Event

“We’ve had thousands of attendees throughout the day” at this year’s virtual BoxWorks, on Oct. 6. Levie said during a virtual Investor Event.

The company provided a sneak peak of its latest Box platform enhancements to CIOs on Oct. 5 and “the feedback has been unbelievable from customers,” who he said are excited about “where the product strategy and roadmap is going.”

Box is “fundamentally at an inflection point to drive greater growth and profitability,” he said. “We are going after a $55 billion market that is only increasing in size as we add additional TAMs in the form of Box Sign and other markets that we plan to enter.”

BoxWorks Announcements

The company announced new capabilities and enhanced integrations that enable organizations to collaborate securely and seamlessly across any application.

That included an all-new Box Notes and an updated Box Mobile app to help users easily collaborate from anywhere and on any device. Box also highlighted deepened integrations with Microsoft 365, Slack and Zoom. Together, the announcements give customers “one secure and intuitive platform to manage their content in the Box Content Cloud,” Box said.

The enhanced Box Notes capabilities include: the ability to include a table of contents, anchor links and more to simplify content organization and navigation within a Box Note; call out boxes so users can better highlight content; code blocks to simplify the technical collaboration process; in-line cursors so users can keep track of collaborator edits in real-time; enhanced table capabilities with an easy, intuitive interface so users can structure and format content more easily; and security and control capabilities, including granular permissions and access stats, the company said.

The enhanced Box Notes is expected to be generally available in January and will be included in the core Box platform offering at no extra cost, it said.

Box also unveiled an enhanced mobile app experience allowing users to do more with Box from any device. The new mobile capabilities include: an updated Capture Mode for iOS and Android that turns mobile devices into intelligent tools for seamlessly capturing, scanning and uploading photos, audio or documents, making it easier for field teams to add content directly into Box; Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that recognizes text automatically and turns scanned documents into searchable PDFs with multi-language support so organizations can easily organize and find content they have uploaded to the cloud; and a redesigned iPad experience with a simplified layout and new drag and drop capabilities for increased productivity and improved navigation.

The new mobile experience was made available for free on Oct. 6 in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

An enhanced Box for Microsoft Office integration, meanwhile, enables real-time co-authoring on Office desktop and mobile apps – including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint – with all edits automatically saved to Box. Complementing the existing web-based Office Online integration, users will also now be able to simultaneously collaborate on documents across desktop, web and mobile, Box said.

An updated Box for Microsoft Teams integration will allow customers to default to Box as a storage option in Teams, “helping to minimize content fragmentation,” it said. “Box and Microsoft have tens of thousands of joint customers, and this enhancement will extend the ability to unify content in Box under a consistent security, compliance, and governance policy,” Box said.

The enhanced Box for Microsoft Office integration is expected to be available in early 2022 and the Teams integration is expected to be available by the end of 2021.

The company also announced new capabilities for Box Shield, its flagship security control and intelligent threat detection solution, designed to help customers reduce the risk of ransomware by scanning files in near real-time as they are uploaded to the Box platform.

The new Shield capabilities, demonstrated at BoxWorks 2021, leverage deep learning technology and external threat intelligence to analyze files and stop sophisticated malware before it causes business disruption, the company said.

Malware deep scanning and enhanced alerts are expected to be available for Box Shield customers later this year. New auto-classification updates are available for Box Shield customers now.