New Box Activity Stream Links to Slack, Salesforce, DocuSign Cloud Apps

Continuing its drive to become “the content hub for the digital workplace,” Box announced new features designed to make it easier to view, manage and secure content across a range of cloud applications.

SAN FRANCISCO—Box made several partnership announcements it said will enhance its status as a neutral platform for enterprise content management.

Executives from Apple, Google, ServiceNow and Slack spoke during the opening keynote here at the annual Boxworks conference on August 29. Other enterprise SaaS companies supporting the latest Box integration news included Microsoft, DocuSign and Salesforce.

Among the announcements is a new Box for G Suite integration now available for beta tests that works with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Hangouts Chat. Box also plans to offer the same integration with Gmail.

Box also announced that the integrations with Office 365 apps now includes Microsoft Outlook. Box already integrates with Word, Excel and PowerPoint and also supports Apple’s iWork app suite.  

In a demonstration, Box senior product manager Michelle Oh, showed how a Box user could launch an Excel spreadsheet from within Google Sheets and take advantage of unique features in Sheets, such as typing a question like ‘How many customers do I have in Wisconsin?” The user could then send the answer to a colleague in a message window without leaving the main screen. The updated file would still be saved in Box as an Excel spreadsheet.

“If you look at it from the user experience perspective, users have app fatigue, especially in the SaaS world,” Gartner analyst Karen Hobert told eWEEK. “But if you have a single interface that gives you that seamless experience of moving in and out of apps. It’s going to help with user adoption and it’s really valuable to Box to be that single repository and have all the activity” within the Box environment.

Box cofounder and CEO Aaron Levie said the company has been working on the idea of providing one platform for critical content and processes for 10 years.

“We want to be that one platform that brings together seamless and secure internal and external collaboration, and be a single source of truth of content for best of breed apps,” he said. “That means you have to be a neutral and open platform.”

Box said its platform integrates with more than 1,400 apps and more than 150,000 developers who are creating applications for the cloud content management platform.

Jeetu Patel, Chief Product Officer at Box, said a big reason for the partnership with the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Slack and others was to help enable access to best of breed enterprise applications.

As an example, he said Box itself uses many third party apps such as Apple’s Keynote presentation app used for the keynote that 50 people collaborated on. “The thing I really like about this is that you can do real-time collaboration on multiple devices,” he said.

A new “activity stream” feature in Box surfaces the latest activity and relevant content from other apps connected to Box, such as when a new a contact is added to an account in Salesforce Sales Cloud, or if there’s a relevant conversation on a Slack channel or an invoice sent for approval in DocuSign. That activity shows up in a preview panel on the user’s screen and you can jump to the activity by clicking on the preview.


Content Security With Box Shield

Box previewed a new security service called Box Shield that it’s making available in a beta evaluation version now with general release in 2019. Shield has a number of features to securely manage content access and distribution.

You can, for example, give files access rights like “Confidential” which means it can’t be downloaded, and “Top Secret” that limits its distribution to individual with a need to view them. Shield also sends alerts to IT and managers when it thinks files are being distributed in potentially an insecure or risky manner.

For example, if someone started sending files to a department that Shield recognizes that a particular user normally has no contact with, an alert would be sent. During a demonstration, Box showed how an “Impossible Travel” alert would be sent if a Box user was logged in and actively accessing files from two different geographies.  

Shield is specifically designed to detect anomalous behavior to send alerts to ensure the organization has the right data security policies in place and those policies are tightly integrated with the partner ecosystem, Patel said at a press Q&A session.

“One of the reasons we’re releasing Box Shield in beta is that we want this to be more of a conversation,” said Levie. “We want to engage with our customers and partners in the development process.”

Levie later added that he thinks the company is just getting started on its service roadmap.  “We believe there will be more innovation in the next three years than in the past 30,” he said. 

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...