Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The Box.net Newsfeed and Making Content Management More Collaborative

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Today we’re kicking off a lineup of improvements to Box that will continue through the remainder of the year and beyond, bringing transformative social, discovery and collaborative capabilities to our platform. There’s a massive transition happening in enterprises today, driven by an explosion of data, the breadth of mobile platforms available, and increasingly geo-distributed workforces. Our product has gone a long way towards enabling businesses to work with less complexity, cost and hassle than was ever possible before. This is why we’re crushing SharePoint whenever a customer needs to share content securely and easily in the cloud.

But we need to do more.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for solutions that can surface relevant information more intelligently to users, and this is where the newsfeed comes in. While we’ve had an “Updates” stream at Box for a number of years now, it has never been a central destination for content discovery and engagement – more of a glorified RSS reader. Starting today, we’re changing that. We’ve redesigned our newsfeed with a slick new UI that promotes engagement directly from the feed. The activity types have been expanded to show when a collaborator joins a folder or adds an OpenBox application. And to connect users with the right information faster, there are now more than 10 activity type filters that can be applied to the feed. With these changes, and with the major product developments coming over the course of the next few quarters, we want to dramatically increase the importance of the feed and social collaboration on Box. The newsfeed should become the central source of real-time information and collaboration for our users, and a core part of cloud content management’s competitive advantage over traditional ECM solutions. This shift towards a more immediate, intelligent presentation of crucial business information will not be unique to content management – we’re already seeing it begin to disrupt other software categories and create demand for a new breed business applications that are reinventing how business is done.

How we beat SharePoint

SharePoint has attempted to address the social challenge by cramming more features on its already over-crowded and over-complicated platform, requiring more labor from users to “be social.” We’re taking the exact opposite approach. We want intelligent and collaborative content management to be the core of our offering, not an add-on. Our roadmap and vision is not about bringing Twitter or microblogging to our customers, or even adding social networking to Box. This is about surfacing the right information to the right people in real-time, without any extra effort on the user’s part.

Openness & flexibility

A major part of this initiative is to work with our current and future partners in interesting and meaningful ways. This will be a multi-stage effort, and there are some exciting possibilities for integration with other feed providers (Chatter, Jive, Yammer), content and workflow-focused applications (Google, DocuSign, Zoho, etc.), as well as devices and desktop clients (iPad, Sync, etc).

So that’s today’s news, and a preview of some super exciting things to come. Big props to our product and design teams for this latest achievement. And as always, if you have feedback on the newsfeed or ideas for other ways we can make Box more social and collaborative, we want to hear from you.

Post by Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO