Box has been quietly evolving its platform from one that mostly offered online storage and file sharing to providing a range of content management services in the cloud. Box has coined the term Cloud content management, or CCM for short, to describe the software category. Rarely do company-created market segments stick, but CCM has become an industry, not just Box term.
Cloud content management aims to bridge the gaps left by two older markets, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) from the 1990s and Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) from the mid-2010’s. Legacy ECM vendors, including SharePoint, OpenText, and Documentum provide a breadth of robust functionality, albeit often at the sacrifice of simplicity and a positive user experience. EFSS vendors, including OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive, bring ease of use and collaboration to the table, but often can’t support complex governance, workflow, and security use cases. Those unfamiliar with Box might only remember it as a cloud backup solution. Don’t blink or its growth probably passed you right by.
The recent second-quarter financial performance suggests the company might be reinventing itself. The company reported revenue of $192.3 million. That’s an increase of 11% year over year, beating analysts’ expectations of $189.6 million.
I will give a product overview prompted by a recent press release from the company at my first BoxWorks conference and offer my analyst opinion.
The Box platform architecture and its enhancements have been key to recent success. Coupled with a SaaS delivery model, the development of new capabilities has happened at a rapid pace, reacting quickly to changing customer requirements.
The product targets companies that want to manage data in a cloud environment, collaborate and share it securely with internal and external parties, drive automated workflows, and integrate it across applications.
The company has many products across the dimensions of security and compliance, collaboration, workflow, and integration with popular applications.
Its products have been grouped into suites to simplify purchase decisions. For example, the Digital Business Suite enables secure collaboration, workflow, information governance, and the ability to build custom apps on top of the platform. The products and features included in the Suite are: Box Enterprise Edition, Box Shield, Box Governance, Box Relay, Box Platform, Premier Services, and Large File Upload.
A closer look at the core functionality
When it comes to security, the challenge will always be to protect the content in a way that doesn’t compromise user experience. The company appears to have achieved that balance with Box Shield, the company’s fastest, customer-adopted product ever. Powered by advanced machine learning, Box Shield will detect when employees are abusing content, perhaps sharing sensitive data like customer lists with a personal account, and flag these for the security team. This process involves flagging anomalous downloads, suspicious sessions, or unusual locations inside Box. The tool is designed to work with existing security products so that the classification in Box travels with a file. The company’s security apparatus can capture anomalies or misuse before the file leaves the company’s boundaries. The demos are impressive and I urge you to check them out.
Workflow in the enterprise is a challenge as many of today’s solutions are complex, locked behind IT’s doors, and don’t support secure external collaboration. Customers use Box Relay to automate everyday processes like digital asset reviews, work order submission approvals, regulatory reporting approvals, and grant reviews. With simple, intuitive automation from Box Relay, repeatable procedures handled manually or over email are now automated, standardized, and easier to manage. For organizations looking to automate common departmental use cases, Box currently offers a library of pre-built templates. Box unveiled custom workflow templates that customers can create, publish, and manage themselves, making it easier to roll-out and standardize teams on common processes while incorporating workflow best practices. Box also announced API support enabling further extensibility of Box Relay workflows and integration with custom applications, as well as third-party applications like Salesforce and ServiceNow.
When it comes to collaboration, Box allows content sharing with team members, both in and outside the organization, across any device. Box makes it easy to collaborate on a single platform that’s secure, simple to use, easy to manage, and extends to all the applications teams use every day.
Today, Box connects to over 1500 applications, including Salesforce, Slack, Zoom, Okta, Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace, and Microsoft Teams, and regularly updates these integrations with new functionality to benefit the end user.
I think it is fair to say that Box has evolved way beyond its origins as a file sharing service through the cloud. I’ll admit, I blinked and missed it. The Box solution is designed to enable customers to manage content securely, build workflows to automate predictable and repeatable tasks, and collaborate across internal and external teams.
Tailwinds are contributing to Box’s recent increased success and I can see it extending as remote, secure content management has made it into the CIOs Top 5 agenda.
First, the way people work is changing. The pandemic has caused more people to be working from home. Box enables teams to access the content anywhere, securely work in typical applications, and collaborate seamlessly across the extended enterprise.
Box’s customer list says everything about security you need to know. The company boasts more than 100,000 customers, including 69% of the Fortune 500 in some of the most regulated industries. This includes AstraZeneca, Lilly (pharma), Allstate, Farmers (insurance), Morgan Stanley, Intuit, FICO (financial), Coca Cola (food supply), Allergan (medical devices), Broadcom (semiconductors), Eurostar (transportation), The London Metro Police (public safety) and Vistra Energy (energy). These verticals are hyper vigilant about security.
Second, as part of digital transformation, customers are looking to shift essential data and content to the cloud. Box offers a digital workplace with a complete set of capabilities — including workflow, metadata management, content collaboration, and intelligent services on a scalable, secure public cloud platform.
I believe Box is in the right place at the right time with secure content management, collaboration, and workflow in the cloud with the ability to react quickly to rapidly changing customer requirements.
If you are looking to move content to the cloud and are looking for more effective ways to get work done, Box certainly deserves a close look.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.