Box, Google Collaboration Tools Rapidly Becoming Interchangeable

The cloud storage and tools management provider introduced a new, more complete collaboration with Google’s G Suite in a public beta, building upon a longtime existing partnership with the internet search leader.

BoxWorks18

Just when you thought cloud storage and collaboration-tool maker Box eventually has to run out of ideas for new products, it comes up every year with about a dozen more just in time for its annual BoxWorks conference.

For one thing, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company Aug. 29 introduced a new, more complete collaboration with Google’s G Suite in a public beta, building upon a longtime existing partnership with the internet search leader.

The new integration with G Suite, first announced last month at Google Next, enables G Suite users to create, discuss, edit and collaborate on projects using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides without leaving the main Box application. The main difference here is that instead of saving all these documents, images, videos and spreadsheets to Google Cloud, they are automatically stored in the Box Cloud.

Users Can Deploy Box's Administrative Console

Box for G Suite users also will be able to use Box’s administrative controls in addition to its security, governance and compliance capabilities, Chief Product Officer Jeetu Patel told eWEEK. Google, of course, has its own security, so there’s a good overlap there.

Patel, who was one of the conference keynoters, also revealed another in-the-works integration with Gmail that lets Gmail users attach Box files and download email attachments to Box without leaving the Gmail interface. So the internet boundaries between Box and Google are becoming fainter and fainter and their business tools interact.

"This is pretty important, because regardless of the collaborative editing tools you want to use, you'll be able to use all of them right from within your inbox," Patel said.

The Box-Google connection is all about being able to do a task and not have to worry which app to use; this is very helpful when someone’s on a deadline or in some other time pinch.

It's All About the New Digital Workplace

“Our goal is to make sure our customers have the infrastructure in place to create a modern digital workplace,” Patel told eWEEK. “As new employees come in and there are new sets of expectations from consumers, companies need to provide a more effective digital workplace to handle those changes. That’s what we’ve been working on for the past 13 years in this business.

“Companies also need to realize that they have to operate as a full-on digital business that includes all of their processes. We want to provide the underlying set of technologies to help them rethink their processes—in the way the companies interacts with customers and partners, and in the business model itself.”

Google claims 1.4 billion Gmail users as of August 2018; 4 million businesses are using the G Suite collaboration toolset.

Box for G Suite integration is now available in public beta. Box integration with Gmail is planned to be generally available later this year, Patel said.

Also at BoxWorks 2018, the company announced:

  • Updates to the Box Skills framework: Box announced that the Box Skills Kit--which enables enterprise customers, third-party developers and systems integrators to build custom AI integrations with Box to enhance enterprise content--will be generally available in December 2018. The company highlighted several partners participating in the beta program, including IBM, Deloitte, Robots & Pencils, Codelitt, and AIM Consulting, building highly customized AI solutions for driving digital transformation.
  • Support for custom-trained AI Models: The support for custom-trained AI models with Box Skills makes it easy for enterprises to apply customized AI models, created using services like IBM Watson Studio, Azure Custom Vision, Google AutoML, or AWS SageMaker, to their content in Box via the Box Skills Kit.  Custom training enables businesses to address more specific use cases for AI, like identifying and tagging images of proprietary brands or products or identifying phrases specific to their business in audio transcripts.
  • Streamlining Collaborative Work with Box Tasks and Automations: Box also announced updates to its core task and automation capabilities, enabling users to create lightweight, simple triggers for recurrent actions that augment the collaborative work they do every day. For example, trigger a monthly automation to copy the financial close checklist and send a task for individuals to complete. With Box Tasks and Automations, teams can collaborate more easily, be more agile, and keep tasks like simple content reviews and approvals on track. 

Pricing and Availability

For more information on Box Skills and to sign up for the ongoing beta, customers can contact their Box sales rep or go here. Box Tasks and Automations is scheduled to be available in early 2019.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...