Boxworks 2016: ‘All new Box’ promises to be faster, more open and easier to use thanks to major refresh
Box is overhauling its cloud collaboration platform, revamping its sync and share functionality, expanding Box Notes collaboration and introducing the Box Relay workflow automation tool co-developed with IBM.
CEO Aaron Levie introduced the ‘all new Box’ at the company’s annual customer event, BoxWorks, in San Francisco and said the project was a long term one and continued its drive to make IT more open with applications talking to each other and sharing data.
“No company can succeed without giving employees all the information all the time whenever they need,” he told the audience. “We need to operate in a flatter way with no silos and we also need to be data driven.
“We’ve ended up with an architecture that is completely unsustainable. We’ve reimagined how we can work not just within the confines of Box but through any app we work with. We’re going to be announcing an all new Box and this is where all your work comes together.”
Box’s file management has been redesigned so it is faster and so content is easier to find on desktop, mobile and web. Changes to the user interface and the tech stack means pages load almost a third faster and uploads are five times more rapid, while a new search bar and a ‘recent files’ feature eliminates the need for constant trawling.
The company claims 1 billion files are being added each month and 700TB every day. Users are also spending 3.7 million hours a week viewing content on the platform, and 3D and 360 degree image support has now been added, along with HD video. A new Excel viewer allows even the most complex spreadsheets to be displayed.
A more powerful annotations tool has been included and the mobile apps have been updated with support for additional file types.
The desktop file and sync app can now ‘stream’ files so they don’t require disk space. This, Box says, will remove a barrier that prevents many companies from moving so many files to the cloud. The feature is similar to Dropbox’s ‘Infinite’ storage capability and will also have the added benefit of reducing bandwidth consumption.
Offline Box Notes
Box Notes, first released in 2013, is now available as a desktop application for easy access, and offline use, while the web edition now has a sidebar displaying relevant activity to the shared content.
The third component of the ‘all new Box’ is Box Relay, which was detailed earlier this week. Essentially it allows employees, not just IT, to automate content processed in the cloud, delivering notifications and alerts to project groups.
“Traditional workflow tools are just too complex for [most people],” argued Annie Pearl, a product manager at Box. “It’s like using a nuclear reactor to cook a hot dog.”
The improved web version is available within the admin console so IT managers can choose when and with whom to roll out the features to.
The mobile apps should be released in October, but the desktop iteration won’t be around until early next year because Box wants to get the speed and scalability “right”. The new Box Notes will be released starting later this year and registration for the beta for Box Relay has already started.
Box will hope the new features allow it to be the best choice for businesses amid competition from the likes of Dropbox, which is also courting the enterprise market.
Box has added numerous features in the past few years in a bid to attract more paying customers and prove it offers more than just storage. It has added more security and privacy tools for firms in regulated industries, alongside usability improvements and tailored packages for individual industries. The company now has 66,000 paying customers.
“We’ve built an all new Box where all your work comes together,” concluded Levie. “It’s the best way to work with all your content, [sees] team collaboration taken to the next level and Box Relay, jointly developed with IBM, helps to revolutionise enterprise workflow.
“Your job is to create amazing things. Ours is to create technology to help you do that.