Box Adds New Collaboration Tools Including Box Canvas, And Box Insights

By Patrick Moorhead - May 23, 2022
Box for collaboration

One of the many technology trends that we should continue to see post-pandemic, is the trend of enhanced collaboration and remote productivity. Box is a company that I follow closely and have already written on many features and new products of its innovative Cloud Content Management (CCM) solutions. Box sits alone as the leader in a space that it created. So what’s next for users?

Box recently announced new collaboration and productivity features, including Box Canvas, new features for Box Notes, and Content Insights. I talked a lot about the digital transformation of businesses when I covered Box's transformative automating feature, Box Relay, which you can read about here. Box Relay transforms workflows within a business toward a more efficient digital experience. Tasks are automated between teammates, colleagues, and lines of business, cutting out the physicality. I mention this efficiency because it takes an element of the legacy business model and transforms it into an improved alternative. 

In the same sense, Box is looking to improve business collaboration with Box Canvas, Box Notes, and Content Insights so that digital collaboration is not simply an alternative but an improvement. And, with an increasingly redundant amount of collaboration tools, it makes Box's job a little more difficult coming this late into the game. So what has Box brought to the table? Let's dive into Box's new Canvas, Box Notes, and Content Insights.

Box Canvas

Box Canvas is a collaboration and whiteboarding tool within the Box platform. It benefits from the same security, compliance, and governance capabilities that is in the Box platform. 

We have seen iterations of the whiteboard from various directions, including Zoom with its Whiteboarding, Jamboard on the Google Platform, and Microsoft directly from Windows 11 with Whiteboard and its Surface Slim Pen capabilities. It is easy to say that the whiteborading market is crowded. Compared to other new features that Box has recently launched, Box Canvas, and these other collaboration features, are fairly high activity. This high activity is important to grasp, considering teams choose a whiteboarding tool in direct relation to whichever environment works best. For example, a collaboration tool that does a lot of video calls may choose Zoom's Whiteboarding for simplicity and convenience sake. Zoom Whiteboarding is readily available within Zoom calls, making it an obvious choice in the moment.

I believe Box Canvas should stand out within the market because of its simplicity and its use across all Box-supported content types. 

Box Canvas' convenience and simplicity come from the fact that it is located within the cloud where all of a team's content resides and doesn’t have every bell and whistle. It is not bound by the circumstances of a video call or in-person team meeting. I believe this gives it an advantage over in-person whiteboarding because of the inclusivity of those who are not present and because it is a flexible tool to come back to after or before a meeting.

Also, whether it’s content from Microsoft, Google, or Adobe, teams have one consistent too to write on and annotate.

An example of adding sticky notes to Box Canvas. Box

The goal of whiteboarding is to visualize a team's teamwork for better collaboration. Within Box Canvas, customers can upload Box files into the Whiteboard and visualize the content the team is working on. I find this feature very unique for Box Canvas, and I believe it addresses a wide variety of use cases. In talking with the folks at Box, there are plans to embed more content within Box Canvas like Box Notes and a work management tool, which will make it a very powerful tool. 

While Box Canvas is within the firewall of the security, compliance, and governance capabilities of the Box Platform, it is for external collaboration. Authorized contractors and team members that are in the field could collaborate. It is also available on any internet device, and Box says that it will have mobile apps in the future.

Box Notes

Box is also extending Box Notes to include content creation functionality like tables and rich embeds. From talking with Box, I believe it is looking to include features within Box Notes that make it easier and simpler to take notes on specific content. Again, one of the strengths of Box Notes being within the Box Suite is that content is readily available, and it is what Box allows its customers to do with content that differentiates it from other note platforms. 

With that said, Box is looking to implement richer embedded features like being able to load popular websites or apps within a note. One of the difficult aspects of note-taking tools is taking into consideration that everyone takes notes differently. This aspect is why the simplicity of Box Notes is one of its favorable attributes. I believe Box is heading in the right direction in maintaining the simplicity of Box Notes while also including richer embeds and helpful features like call-out boxes, tables of contents and image enhancements for taking notes on content within the cloud.

Box Notes allows websites and apps to be directly embedded with any part of a note. Box

Box is also looking to add more functionality with Box Notes, including code blocks for developers or additional project management features like kanban boards and calendars. One of the difficult things about including functionality in simple tools is that it eventually becomes not so simple. I believe if Box is able to include more functionality while also maintaining the simplicity of Box Notes, it should continue to be a useful tool within Box. I also believe that once Box implements Box Notes with Box Canvas, Box Notes could become a much more rich and valuable tool for collaboration in that Box Canvas would open it up to more functionality.

Like, whiteboarding, notes are a crowded space and I’ll be interested to see the user uptake. 

Content Insights

Content Insights is a tool that shows how content, and different documents, are being used with analytics. 

I believe that content analytics and insights are very important to digitally transformed businesses. While the focus for data analytics is on large data silos, smaller forms of data analytics can, in some respects, be untouched. I'm interested to see how far Box goes with Content Insights. Any data analytics brings value to the content, and I believe this is no exception. 

Wrapping up

I don't believe many digital workflows have settled on tools and software as a whole, especially with collaboration and hybrid work environments. While the collaboration space is congested with whiteboarding tools, I think there is room for another with Box Canvas. What it brings to the table is inherent to the Box suite, and if Box is able to maintain some of the same attributes of Box Notes, like the simplicity, I believe it should be a valuable tool within the Box Suite.

I am interested in trying out Box's new functionality mentioned in Box Notes and seeing how useful Content Insights is to the Box Suite. The difficulty of making these tools for the enterprise is making them useful for all lines of business. If Box is able to keep its tools simple while also tacking on extra functionality, I believe it could achieve this goal. 

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.