Box Just Threw Down the Gauntlet


Clint Eastwood as Dirty HarryLast week, Box held their annual conference. Many announcements were expected and the announcement of Workflow coming to Box in 2015 was quite exciting. If you want a high-level look at everything that happened, check out Chris Walker’s quick thoughts on BoxWorks.

None of that is why I am writing this post.

Buried in the wave of tweets were two game-changing announcements. Box announced Retention Management and Auto-Classification of Content.

That’s right. Information Governance behind the scenes on an application that people actually use AND a way to get content in the right retention bucket without people having to intervene.

All in the cloud.

Retention Management

This is big. I mean really big. When I talk to people about the cloud vendors, their first response is that the vendors don’t have the features to be considered a serious Content Management System (CMS). Sometimes the desired features are not critical to a CMS. Other times, I have to agree.

When people list Retention Management as a concern, I listen. Being able to classify content as records and control them accordingly is an important feature. Work-arounds can be coded using security, but that is exactly what they are, work-arounds.

When Retention Management goes into beta at the end of the year, Box will be filling the biggest gap in their feature set. Workflow is nice but it is overrated. A standalone cloud-based Business Process Engine (BPM) could meet the need.

But Retention Management. That needs to be core and it is coming.

Content Analytics

I am excited for this for the same reason that I am not excited about workflow. Everyone has workflow. Adding it is not going to make a big difference except in long, checklist-driven, selection processes. They solve nothing.

Auto-classification of content using analytics is HUGE. It is a step forward in Content Management. I’ve been talking about the possibilities in using Content Analytics to make Records Management a easy for a while now. I was a proponent at Alfresco. A vendor finally is leading the way with this technology.

That is right. Box is doing something that will move the industry forward. It isn’t just market-noise leadership. It is tangible leadership.

It Isn’t Real Yet

None of this is release yet. That said, in the years that I’ve been tracking Box, they’ve never failed to deliver on a promise made at their conference. While there is a first time for anything, there is no reason to doubt them.

The biggest reason for excitement is that other vendors will have to take notice. Dropbox forced the vendors to finally start developing desktop sync. Established vendors are starting to call that a table-stakes feature. Maybe Box’s recent announcements can force those vendors to start looking at analytics as something more than a means to create pretty reports.

We should all be paying even more attention to Box going forward. We should also be looking at the established vendors and see what they are doing to still be relevant in three years.

For those vendors to still be relevant in three years, they need to act now.