Umzuzu is very excited to have joined the Box team as a member of their Partner Program. Let's talk about Content Management.
The mission of Box is simple, literally. The Box team is working to make sharing, accessing and managing content ridiculously easy. We think that's a great mission. Simplicity is tremendously underrated.
So with all the platforms out there, why Box? First and foremost it's because we enjoy using the platform. I've been using Box since 2009 and have been following them closely for 5 years or so (before there was a DropBox, there was a Box). There's no question Box is a premier company in the Cloud Computing space. The Box leadership team consists of executives from some companies you may have heard of: Google, Yahoo, Cisco, EMC, Intuit, and Oracle among others. Then there's Box CEO Aaron Levie, we couldn't agree more with most of his opinions about business software, you can read a great post here. I also think his description of Box is pretty accurate "it's like SharePoint if SharePoint actually worked". Having spent several years working with SharePoint 2003 - 10, I couldn't agree more.
Our clients are often ecstatic once they have done the work of transitioning to Google Apps. They are bullish on Cloud Computing. Google Apps saves them money (which is always great) and delivers MUCH more functionality than they ever thought possible. They want everything in the Cloud and they want it yesterday. However, the maturity of Cloud Computing applications varies. Email would be at the one extreme, Cloud-based messaging is very mature. Email lends itself well to the Cloud as it already spends much of its time traversing the Web; email is also perfect for Software-as-a-Service because it is ubiquitous across every type of organization. Email was also one of the first apps to be 'mobile'. When Google Apps launched it offered one service called "Gmail for Your Domain" - email was the first.
In the past few years Cloud-based Content Management has been maturing as well. Unlike email, we are more accustomed to content, such as Microsoft Word documents, living in local or network file shares or on our desktop. In 2010, if you were on a Mac or PC and needed to work with local file formats, like Excel, stored on the Web you had several steps to take. First, you had to download the file from the Web which would create a new version on your machine; you would then open this file with the desktop application to make your edits. An application running locally cannot edit a file on the web anymore than you can try on those shoes you see on Zappos; the shoes need to get to your house, the PC is Excel's house. Once you had completed your edits, you would then upload the file back onto the Web. To people familiar with SharePoint, this would sound a lot like "check-out" and "check-in" which is the same thing. Bottom line: it's annoying. That's why people who actually work during the day save things on their desktop or turn their email into the default document management system.
In 2012 this all changed.
Enter Google Drive, a service our clients embraced immediately. The workflow I walked through above is why Google Drive installs an application locally - the local files are already "home" when you go to open, edit and save them. This creates an experience we expect but also gives us all the collaboration, power, flexibility and security of the Cloud.
Enter Box Sync. Box Sync is Box's application that installs locally on the Mac or PC, again creating the experience users expect. In 2012 Box followed up with an update to Sync for PC and released Sync for Macs (which we use internally along with thousands of our clients). Now Box too could handle local file types seamlessly.
Why both platforms, you might be asking, don't Drive and Box compete?
The media loves drama. Drive and Box do offer similar functionality, especially the consumer or freemium versions of the applications. In a business environment the two services couldn't be much more different. Google Drive offers the ultimate in flexibility; collaborators, content, folders and organizational structures can be rapidly spun up and spun down; this flexibility inherently creates a degree of uniqueness across each person's Drive. Box is also extremely flexible but can bring a degree of formality to views and structures of files and foldering hierarchies; formality and structure are synonyms after all. Similar to two very different but complementary executives on a leadership team, Drive and Box approach the same very big challenges from different angles and ultimately deliver excellent solutions individually and together.