Box Competes on Two Fronts, Hard to Win at Both
by Jim Lundy
I attended my eighth BoxWorks event this week in San Francisco and Box was hard at work expressing its evolving story. In essence, Box wants to be more like Microsoft and Google in the office, but it also wants to win the war for content management and workflow and content automation (WCA).
Our take is that it is hard to win a two-front war. This blog is about what Box announced at #BoxWorks 2018.
Box and the Digital Work Hub
Box made a number of announcements that make it more of a digital work hub for knowledge workers. (See more on digital work hubs here.) The race to win the digital workplace is on. Box faces a tough fight against incumbents like Google and Microsoft and new entrants like Airtable and Smartsheet. Box is doing more now with the new Box Feed, which can surface relevant work.
The challenge for Box is serving the needs of both knowledge workers and enterprise content architects who have significant content management requirements.
Box Integrates with Google G Suite Editors
While Box showed it can more easily attach documents to Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, that capability is really table stakes. Box can now integrate with Google G Suite editors like Google Docs. This makes for a cool demo, but basically, it is mimicking a capability Google already has.
To us, Box has no choice but to offer this. Knowledge workers want more flexibility and this makes Box a much more open platform for teams that are creating content—not just managing it.
Box for Salesforce: Putting Sales Enablement Vendors on Notice
Box showed a slick integration with Salesforce, and for sales professionals, this is the real deal. Account executives need to be in Salesforce, which is their digital work hub, and this will make Box a sought-after solution for sales teams.
Box Skills: Leveraging Partners for Artificial Intelligence
Box talked a lot about AI and its offering, Box Skills. There was solid progress toward a shipping product in late 2018 and it will have several pre-built, AI-based skills. That said, to be clear, Box is leveraging third parties for Box Skills, so it is more of a framework. Box explained that it has integrations with leading cloud providers (Google, IBM, and Microsoft).
To us, we think Box could go further with this since there needs to be a fair amount of cloud orchestration involved for a complex content analytics solution. Some enterprises may want to leverage those AI capabilities natively.
Box Is Growing
Box is back to revenue growth and this is a positive sign. On top of that, some of the customers that were at BoxWorks were doing some heavy lifting with a very large volume of video files. The Box professional services team is powering some of this growth, even though they didn’t get a lot of main stage presence at BoxWorks. This suggests that focusing on mission-critical content-enabled business applications (CEBAs) may be the right future direction for Box.