Box users can now access Office 365 directly from within Box and automate some workflow processes
Box has added new collaboration tools to its cloud platform, including Office 365 integration and improvements to Box Notes, and has introduced Box Workflow, which aims to connect innovative tools with traditional business processes.
A beta for Office 365 integration is available for all Box customers, who can now open and access files directly from the desktop application and share files using secure links. Box is working on ways to integrate with the online version of Office 365, although such features were not detailed.
Speaking at Boxworks 2014 in San Francisco, Box CEO Aaron Levie said the deal highlighted the changing relationship between Box and Microsoft. He explained that its customers had originally told it they didn’t like SharePoint, but now needed Box to work with a variety of tools, including those created by Microsoft.
“We’ve had interesting relations with Microsoft,” he said. “It’s much more natural for us to work with Microsoft today.”
However, Box believes this relationship can be expanded further should Microsoft open up more, with Office 365 integration on the iPad mentioned as a possibility. Levie said Box would always look to work other companies should its customers demand it.
”Our job is to make sure you can get to your data whenever you want,” he said.
Box as a platform
Box Notes, which has racked up 600,000 hours of use since it was made available to all customers in June, has also been updated to allow for more structured collaboration. Checklists were added earlier in the year, with tables and version history review set to be added before the end of 2014.
Annotations are to be added to Box Preview, allowing users to add real-time comments to more than 100 types of file, including images.
Box is also keen to strengthen its credentials as a cloud platform and has introduced Box Workflow, which automates a number of business processes. Customers can set rules that send certain files to certain employees within the company, based on time, value or logic.
For example, users can set it so they are prompted when a contract is set to expire through an email or smartphone notification, while the file could be sent to different people depending on whether the contract is accepted or rejected.
Box Workflow also makes use of the analytics technology acquired when Box bought dLoop last year to identify similarities in documents using text and metadata. This, Box said, can prevent highly confidential information from being leaked out of a network.
Box recently abolished storage limits for all enterprise users and has been keen to differentiate itself from the likes of OneDrive by stressing the value of its service as a platform. Levie said Workflow will work with SAP, Oracle, Salesforce and even custom mobile applications when the product is launched next year, while the company also revealed industry-specific services for a range of sectors, including health, education and retail in the form of Box for Industry.
“Everything at Box is built on a platform,” said Levie. “We’re trying to reimagine business process in the cloud”
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