This week Box announced that it is now providing integration to Generative AI services, along with upgrades to its Box Canvas and Shuttle products. The announcement of BoxAI was unsurprising as Box has long relied on third-party integrations for AI, going back, for example, to its announcement in 2017 of Box Image Recognition that used Google CloudVision. As my colleague Dan recently wrote, it is the season for such integrations, and many more vendors will announce the same or similar in the coming months. However, the long-term business value of such moves remains an open question. To be fair to Box, it has done more than integrate into Google’s AI tools; it has done, say, by layering in strict principles for the ethical use and protection of its client’s data. Yet our recent conversations with end users in the US and the EU reveal much less enthusiasm at the buying end of the equation than the selling end. Even so, the BoxAI announcement will likely grab some headlines, though I suspect it will be improvements to Box Shuttle in the latest batch of updates that will help drive and retain business for Box and add value for its customers.
Box has long provided migration tools for its customers, initially through partnerships with third-party vendors and latterly (after it acquired Cloud Fast Path) natively with Box Shuttle. In short, if you wanted to migrate files to Box, there was a tiered usage tool you could access. But what Box has become renowned for is bundling, which is what they have done with this release, is to make Box Shuttle accessible directly from the Box Admin Console. Here you can access all the Shuttle functionality, allowing you not just to lift and shift but to plan, simulate and execute sophisticated migrations that include or exclude specific content, permissions, locations, etc. Using Shuttle within the admin console is pretty straightforward, and is something most administrators would have little difficulty mastering. However, there is always the option to engage Box services if necessary.
So why do we think this is an important announcement for Box customers, file migration as a topic hardly seems exciting. Well, because the basic premise of file migration tools rests on the idea of two file systems, the one (potentially legacy) where the files have long-lived, and the new system (in this case Box) where they will move to and live happily ever after. If only life were so simple! Files live everywhere within organizations, in dedicated records and document management systems, in some cases, but more commonly in general email, file server, or business application repositories. And every day, more and more data hits these systems and grows in volume. Tools to configure, reconfigure, map, transfer, migrate, and generally move files, be that Gigabytes of files or Petabytes around, are critical in today’s enterprises but are typically underused or avoided altogether due to the perception that they are expensive and complex to use.
Sometimes significant product improvements don’t get the headlines because they are not sexy. That may be the case here with Shuttle, but I have little doubt many of Box’s enterprise customers, both old and new, will be using Shuttle more often and more effectively moving forward. Box is a middleware platform for managing unstructured data; over the past decade, it has become one of the best-known and most widely used platforms alongside Microsoft. To enable customers to manage Box’s increasingly large and complex data volumes, admin tools must continue evolving and improving to meet those challenges. Hence we hope to hear more from Box about advances in its Governance, Relay, and Skills products in the coming year. These may not be as exciting as AI, but they are just as, if not more, critical to the Box customers we speak to.