Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

How Box is Building the Smarter Enterprise

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When we look out across today’s enterprises, there’s a clear gap between what our technology is capable of and the new ways of working that companies need to support.  We’re naturally and necessarily becoming more collaborative, more connected, and more mobile. The cloud helps us do all of these things. It has brought down the cost of infrastructure dramatically, it has sped up the delivery of applications, and it means we can implement solutions to problems far more quickly than ever before. But has the cloud made our businesses “smarter”? Are we making better decisions by learning more about the content and people we’re working with? Are we connecting data and information across applications in such a way as to produce more value than the sum of our systems?

For the past couple of decades, our enterprise technology could neither handle the input of all of our information efficiently, nor could it produce any meaningful outputs beyond what we explicitly told it.  Rather, our technology has slowed us down. In a Forrester survey just a couple of years ago, 91% of enterprise respondents said that the cost of ownership of their technology was too high, and 80% said they weren’t  getting the expected business value out of the solutions they’ve implemented. These problems are only becoming worse with 1.8 trillion gigabytes of information projected to be generated and stored this year alone. Enterprises not only need technology that will withstand this data explosion, but also will help them get more value out of the information being created, and the people creating it.

This is all changing today. We’ve learned from the social web how much more powerful we are when we’re more connected. We can surface news relevant news much more quickly, and recognize important patterns amidst the noise with greater probability. Yet our enterprise applications have done little to encourage this same benefit in our corporations. We’re going to try and change this. At Box, we’d like to introduce you to the Smarter Enterprise.

The Smarter Enterprise comes when people can make decisions faster, understand correlations more effortlessly, and get real leverage from their distributed networks. Some will assume this is the output of our move into a Social Enterprise – but I believe it is an even larger trend. Our software needs to become much more social and personalized, for ignoring the power and knowledge of the individuals in our organizations is anti-collaborative at best and value minimizing at worst. Our technology should encourage and enable more people-centric organizations and workflows, letting individuals share their most timely and relevant information, connect with the experts that surround them, and always have access to the best intelligence and information about their projects, competitors, and customers. But building the Smarter Enterprise goes even further: How does our technology promote better answers to our problems and create value around our information in entirely new ways?

This is what Box is building. We’re creating technology to help you connect people to content, make better decisions, faster, and work more effectively with anyone. Over the next couple of quarters, you’ll see a number of enhancements, large and small, that will positively impact how you work and collaborate on and off Box. The first of which are coming today.

The first cross-platform sync for the enterprise

The information that’s being generated on PCs and Macs today is creating tremendous challenges for enterprises. Every single desktop and laptop becomes yet another disconnected data silo, posing a security risk but, even more importantly, a risk of not capturing the most value from your content and information. Enterprises have few solutions to help tackle these challenges.  Microsoft has done little in the way of syncing their software and systems together; Apple, with iCloud, has an elegant vision, but not one that will make sense for a still PC-dominant enterprise universe.

Enter Box Sync. We’ve rebuilt our core sync technology from the ground up, and we’re introducing a new version of PC sync and the first ever Mac sync. It’s integrated into our enterprise content and user management, and supports the business workflow you’ve come to expect from Box. It will help businesses connect 10, 100, or 10,000 employees and all their content to the cloud, seamlessly. We’re rolling this new product out to business customers over the next few weeks and months. Please visit www.box.net/sync for more information.

Additional security tools and partnerships

Once your content is in the cloud, the next step is to make it as secure as possible. This can mean a number of things, and the greatest challenge is balancing the ease-of-use and simplicity that drives productivity and utilization of Box, with the strict enterprise requirements that customers expect. And this happens to be an area where we spend a disproportionate amount of time getting it right: making sure Box is a product that can be adopted and loved by users and IT alike. So to help with all of your cloud security needs, we’re releasing a number of new features to help with this effort.

The first is called “Trusted Access,” which will be available in your account in the next few days. This feature, when turned on, will keep an active list of all the browsers, applications, and devices that are connected to your Box – and you’ll be notified every time a new location or service is added. This can be managed at both the user and admin levels. Secondly, in addition to our partnerships with VMware and Ping Identity, we’re announcing an integration and support of Okta, one of the emerging leaders in cloud security. Through this service, enterprises are able to easily manage the myriad apps and identities in their organization, seamlessly connecting the two securely.

Social roadmap to make Box more collaborative

Finally, one of the most exciting initiatives we have at the moment is to make Box more social and collaborative. Needless to say, the future of content management is not in stale systems that make it more cumbersome and complex to share information. No. Our applications are destined to become more people-oriented, leveraging the actions and communications of those around us to create more value around our content. At Box, we’re building for this future. With an amazing slate of updates in the next couple of quarters, including more personalized updates, relevant content that permeates your views of Box, and workflow that is more casual, yet more powerful, in nature. We want you to be able to drive projects to completion faster, know what people are working on around you, and understand what’s going on with your content in new ways.

This is how we’re building the Smarter Enterprise. We hope you’ll be joining us in this new way to work.