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Box moves to tackle the shift to hybrid workplaces

Box moves to tackle the shift to hybrid workplaces

The content management platform is making changes it hopes will help workers better find, share, and use the data and information they need to remain productive in an increasingly hybrid-workplace world.

Credit: Box

Content management vendor Box has unveiled a host of new features and integrations aimed at  enabling users to securely work more collaboratively. The move comes as companies are moving away from paper-based processes and embracing digitised assets, according to Diego Dugatkin, Box’s recently appointed chief product officer.

As a result, Box is looking to protect digital content content, bolster collaboration and improve workflows in integrated applications, he said. “Everything we offer is centred around maintaining the security compliance and governance that we have, while also extending with this set of new features. As we start to see some offices reopen, we see the need to maintain this level of collaboration [seen over the last 18 months].”

The announcements at the company's Boxworks 2021 conference fall under three main areas: security, collaboration, and workflow and application integration.

Raul Castanon, senior analyst in workforce productivity and collaboration at 451 Research S&P Global Market intelligence, said the moves by Box are consistent with recent trends in workforce productivity and the transition to a hybrid workplace.

According to 451 Research, the top areas for improving employee productivity include finding ways to better organise, plan and prioritise work; looking to reduce common, repetitive types of tasks; and being able to more easily store, find and share information.

“These factors point to the need for communications-enabled workflows and integrations between collaboration and content management applications; its recent announcements show that this is the direction in which Box is going,” Castanon said.

Security updates

In terms of security, Box said customers using its Box Shield should see higher malware detection rates and fewer false positives. According to Dugatkin, Box Sheild already scans more than 48 billion files a year; but with reported cases of ransomware up by 300 per cent in the first half of 2021, Box moved to better protect its customers’ content.

“New malware Deep Scan capabilities in Box Shield combat these ransomware attacks,” he said. “What makes Box’s approach different is that it adds deep learning technology into traditional hash-based approach to malware detection.”

Box Shield should be able to recognise malicious traits inside content in near real-time. It will also extend malware detection to active content in Box and analyse external content accessed by managed users. Admins will also be allowed to occasionally override threat verdicts for low-risk content to avoid disrupting business workflows.

Collaboration and workflow

With an eye on collaboration and workflow, Box unveiled a reimagined Box Notes to improve internal and external collaboration. Box Notes adds the ability to simplify content organisation and navigation within a Box Note, with features like call out boxes to highlight content, the ability to include tables of contents, anchor links, and in-line cursors to keep track of edits in real-time.

Code blocks are designed to help simplify the technical collaboration process, with security and control capabilities such as granular permissions and access stats built within the Box Content Cloud.

Dugatkin said the new features can be used across teams: marketing teams can create project plans to track progress, or create launch announcements by collaborating in real-time across internal teams and external agency partners; sales teams can use the platform to develop scripts and email templates; and recruiting teams can gather interview feedback.

“Every department can leverage [Box Notes] for collaboration,” he said.

Box also plans to launch a an revamped mobile app, with an updated Capture Mode for iOS and Android devices and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that turns scanned documents into searchable PDFs with multi-language support.

Those features mesh with Box's e-signature capability, Box Sign, which was announced in July. The company said it is already being used to support digital transactions such as employee onboarding, vendor agreements, and purchase orders.

Box Sign lets users send documents for e-signature directly from Box to anyone, including people without a Box account, and supports more than 15 languages. The new security features include signer authentication via SMS, password-protection for documents sent out for signature, and adherence to  HIPAA, SOC, ISO, and FedRAMP requirements.

Box Sign capabilities in the Box for Salesforce integration also allow customers to generate and send NDAs, contracts, and other documents directly from within Salesforce.

Box Sign is expected to be available this month to all customers in the US and Canada on Business and Enterprise plans at no additional cost. It will continue rolling out globally in the coming months.

App integrations

Box currently offers integrations with more 1,400 applications, including Salesforce, Okta, and Webex. With remote work driving an increased need for collaboration, Box is rolling out enhanced integrations with three major collaboration bigwigs: Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom.

The integrations with Microsoft Office and Teams include the ability to co-author in real-time on Office desktop and mobile apps -- including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- with all edits automatically saved to Box, allowing users to simultaneously collaborate on documents across desktop, web, and mobile devices.

Customers will also be able to use Box as their default storage option in Teams, with IT admins having more granular options at the individual, team, and organisational levels.

For Slack, Box is offering deeper integration that allows users to upload files directly to Box through the Slack interface. Customers continue to get Box’s security and compliance over content, even when files are uploaded through Slack.

The Box app for Zoom lets customers access to their Box content without having to leave Zoom. They can also browse, preview, and share Box files directly from Zoom, whether the meeting is active or not.

Castanon said the integrations with Teams, Slack and Zoom highlight the evolution of business communications and collaboration in the post-pandemic workplace, with asynchronous and real-time communications-enabled workflows gaining more relevance.

“More than a threat to communications and collaboration vendors, these integrations represent an opportunity for them to gain even more relevance by providing the means for organisations to deploy communications-enabled workflows,” he said. "Together with the enhancements to Box Sign and Box Relay, the new capabilities further position Box as an intelligent workspace content hub."

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