I want to start off by apologizing to Ron Miller. Ron is a smart guy and I count him among my friends. Ron also wrote something the other day where he was wrong.
Not a little wrong, a LOT wrong.
Ron wrote an article titled Box has always been about looking forward, not back. It is a good article and it covers Box’s three biggest announcements from BoxWorks quite well, but he misses the point. He missed what Box is really doing.
They aren’t just checking Boxes or throwing people a bone. They are preparing to take over everything.
Consumer and Enterprise Features
The Box Notes feature is nice, but it is, in its current state, not that different than Yammer (a better collaboration system) and Google Doc. I have used the feature on both platforms. It is great for working with people you know on a quick, ad-hoc document or collecting ideas. After that, it becomes less useful.
It is the perfect Consumer feature.
On the other hand, the announcement of the rules engine (not workflow) and a metadata service are things that Analysts (and myself) have been bugging Box about for years. They finally announced an active Beta in one and a planned Beta for the other.
But if you think they are just checking boxes in order to get sales, you are wrong.
How, Not What
Enterprises need process automation and some defined metadata for their content. Box recognizes this and that is part of why they’ve hired lots of people from the older Content Management vendors. The key is that Box is going to do it their own way.
They aren’t doing workflow, they are doing rules. They are doing something that, in theory, doesn’t require code or complex dependencies. This is something that the average person should be able to implement. We have rules in Alfresco and I’ve seen how it makes the life of the business person much easier.
No going to IT for a new process or testing. Some simple configuration and done. What’s not to like?
Box isn’t simply doing things to check boxes. If they were, they would have done this years ago and moved on to something else. They are talking, and listening, to clients and prospects as they figure out what the REQUIREMENTS are. Other vendors are still obsessing about the FEATURES.
Box is now solving those requirements without giving-up there core belief of Simple.
The Future is Now
Ron is right about one thing, Box is looking towards the future. It is hard work. I know because I am helping Alfresco to do that as well. The industry cannot wait for the future to arrive. We have to build it.
Everyone is moving forward to a future where Content Management is so easy it just happens. The vendors that are ready to help people when they arrive in the future will be the ones that will benefit the most.
Box is taking their understanding of Simple and working to add power under the hood.
Alfresco is taking the power of Content Management and working to make it easy.
The goal, get out of people’s way on the road to ultimate productivity.
I have this to say to Ron, Box knows what it is doing. As you pointed out in your article, they don’t do anything just to check boxes. They have a vision for the future and they are working to build it. The needs of the past are still relevant, just not the methods.
Box knows it.
Alfresco knows it.
Now you know it.