When the shutdown began six weeks ago, the powers that be at Box sat down for a meeting to discuss the situation. They weren't in the same room of course. They were like everyone else, separated by the virus, but they saw this as a key moment for Box as a company.
They had been talking about digital transformation for years, trying to help customers get there with their cloud content management platform, and this was a pivotal moment with millions of employees working at home.
Box CEO Aaron Levie says the company's executives had to decide if the change in work style they were seeing at that moment was going to be a temporary event or something that changed work forever.
After some debate, they concluded that it was going to change things for the long term, and that meant accelerating the product road map. "We made the bet six weeks ago that this was going to be a long-term change about how business works, and even if offices opened back up, we thought that companies were going to want to be resilient for this type of event in the future," Levie explained.
From Box's perspective, they saw this playing it in three crucial ways. Employees would need to be able to share files securely (their sweet spot). They would need to collaborate with folks inside and outside the organization. Finally, as you are working inside other cloud applications, what is the best way to interact with files stored in Box?
These are all scenarios that Levie has been talking about for years, and to some extent Box offered already, but they wanted to tighten everything up, while adding some new functionality. For starters, they are offering a cleaner interface to make it easier for users to interact with and share files.
They are also helping users organize those files with a new feature called Collections, which lets them group their files and folders in ways that make sense to them. This is organized on an individual basis, but Levie says they are already hearing requests to be able to publish collections inside the organization, something that could come down the road.
Next, they are adding an annotations capability that makes it easy to add comments either as a single editor or in a group discussion about a file. Think Google Docs collaboration tools, but for any document, allowing an individual or group to comment on a file remotely in real time, something many folks need to do right now.
Image Credit: Box
Finally, external partners and customers can share files in Box from a special landing page. Levie says that this is working in conjunction with Box Shield, and the malware detection capability announced last month to make sure these files are shared in a secure fashion.
"Companies are going to need to make sure that no matter what happens -- in the fall, next year or 10 years from now -- that they can be resilient to an event where people can't transact physically, where you don't have manual processes, where employees can go work from home instantaneously, and so that's going to change dramatically how you adjust your company's priorities from a technology standpoint," Levie said.
These new features may not answer all of those huge strategic questions, but this is a case where Box saw an opening for the company to address this change in how people work more directly, and they sped up the roadmap to seize it.
These features will be rolling out starting today and over the next weeks.