UPDATED 12:00 EDT / AUGUST 29 2018


With AI-powered Activity Stream and Feed, Box aims to be the enterprise content hub

Collaborative file-sharing giant Box Inc. kicked off its annual BoxWorks conference in San Francisco today with a series of new features aimed at building out its vision of serving as the main content hub for enterprises.

“Users are looking for one content layer across everything,” one that spans the wide range of applications they’re using in their companies from one place, Faizan Buzdar, a senior director of product management at Box, said in an interview.

For one, Chief Executive Aaron Levie will provide an advance look at what it calls Activity Stream (pictured) for files and recommended apps. Given that Box already integrates with more than 1,400 applications, it can get complex and cumbersome to remember in which one files have been shared or worked on.

The Activity Stream, which will be available in beta next year, will surface what users have done recently along with context from other apps in Box’s file preview. For instance, Box said, if a file’s added to a Salesforce.com Inc. record or if it’s being discussed in Slack, Box will surface the activity in a preview along with tasks, comments and other Box updates. Users can then jump to the activity directly from Box.

In addition, there’s a new file preview with a curated, enterprise-approved list of recommended applications that also might be useful to use with the file — for example, sharing a link via Gmail or sending it to DocuSign for a signature. “These apps are working together almost as if they’re one app,” Buzdar said.

“One of the challenges of integrating multiple cloud services together is keeping track of all the actions that take place across the various platforms,” said Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. “The new Box Activity Stream aims to solve that issue by creating a single place to monitor all the activities that take place around a document.”

Box also announced a public beta for the integration with Google LLC’s G Suite of applications that was announced at last month’s Cloud Next conference. The integration includes the ability to create, edit and work together on files in Google Docs, Slide and Sheets while inside Box and using its security and governance services. And starting later this year, Gmail users — corporate users, not consumers — will also be able to attach Box files and down email attachments to Box from inside Gmail.

In addition, Box said a new service called Feed (below), a sort of Facebook news feed for the enterprise that uses machine learning to surface personalized relevant content to users — previously in private beta since last October — is now moving into public beta. A new tab in Box, it will show the latest updates to and comments on files, for instance, based on what a user has worked on and their networks of people and teams. They include a “Recents” digest of current work and “Trending” content showing which of a user’s files are getting the most attention in the company.



“The new Feed is a very welcome enhancement, as it will enable people to easily discover content that is relevant to them,” Lepofsky said. “I’ve never considered Box a front-end destination, but rather a place where files were stored and viewed. The Feed changes that, as now there is reason to go to Box and discover files that are interesting, important and helpful in getting your job done.”

Both Feed and Activity Streams employ Box Graph, the company’s machine learning system, to power the recommendations.

Box announced a few extra new capabilities and services during the BoxWorks keynote. For one, it’s updating its Box Skills framework, which uses machine learning to make video, audio, image and other files more useful on its content management service. Introduced last year, Box Skills (below) allows users to perform tasks on content such as computer vision for image analysis, video indexing and sentiment analysis from audio using machine learning technologies from IBM Corp.’s Watson Studio, Microsoft Corp’s Azure Custom Vision, Google Cloud’s AutoML and Amazon Web Services Inc.’s SageMaker.


Today, Box updated the Skills Kit, which helps developers, enterprises and system integrators build custom AI integrations with Box, will be generally available in December. Among the early partners are IBM, Deloitte, digital innovation agency Robots & Pencils, Codelitt Incubator and AIM Consulting Group LLC.

Finally, the company announced updates to Box Tasks and Automations, which allow users to create quick and simple triggers for regular actions such as sending a particular tasks such as content reviews and approvals to the right workers without having to write software to handle the task.

Box can use some fuel for its business. Today, its shares were falling nearly 10 percent after an earnings report and comments by its chief financial officer Tuesday that indicated its revenue growth might not measure up to its previous predictions.

Buzdar spoke to theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, at last month’s Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco about Box’s strategy and its connections with Google:

Images: Box

Images: Box

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