Box


Founded 2005 | HQ Redwood City, CA | 2,100 employees (approx.) | $874.3M revenue (TTM)

Box provides a highly competitive, differentiated alternative to traditional ECM systems that is easy to buy, use, and deploy. In addition to offering far-reaching compliance and collaboration features, the Box platform is one of the more developer-friendly file sharing platforms available.


The Company

Box is by far the most talked-about cloud content management and file sharing service in the enterprise content management (ECM) community. Indeed, legacy vendors see Box, though grudgingly at times, as the only serious cloud competitor to their more traditional ECM products.

Box was founded in 2005 in Mercer Island, WA. Co-founder Aaron Levie remains the CEO and co-founder Dylan Smith the CFO, though the firm is now headquartered in Redwood City, California, with offices in Europe and Asia. Box employs around 2,100 people, and its reported revenue for fiscal year 2022 is $874.3 million. The company filed an IPO in 2015 on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:BOX). Box has made 14 small “tuck in” acquisitions, most notably SignRequest and Cloud FastPath in 2021.

The Technology

Box has been best known over the years as an Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) vendor competing against the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and FileCloud. However, over the past five years it has built out what is essentially an extensive content-centric low-code application platform (LCAP), the focus of this report.

At the core of the Box platform is its cloud-based file repository system that enables access to documents and files anywhere, anytime, and on any device. This cloud system runs across a series of global data centers, and a function called Box Zones lets users define where their files are stored; in this way they can comply with local data privacy and residency regulations such as GDPR in Europe. Importantly, Box Zones goes beyond most of the company’s competition in allowing users to design and designate where files can be stored, all managed via a single administrative interface.

In addition to this data residency management capability, Box provides strong yet simple-to-use governance and compliance functionality to meet requirements such as GDPR, GxP, CCPA, HIPAA, FedRAMP, StateRAMP, and FINRA. That’s an essential requirement for some potential clients, but what differentiates Box from its competition is the broad range of functionality it offers on top of its cloud repository system (see Figure 1).
Of particular note here is Box Shield, the firm’s security product that allows a company to classify documents automatically, identify personally identifiable information (PII), and apply threat, malware, and anomaly detection to their content stores. In addition, Box Skills provides simple-to-use AI tools for document capture, classification, and analysis, and Box Content Insights provides deep visibility and insights into how content is being stored, accessed, shared, and used within and outside an organization.

Box Relay provides easy-to-use content-centric workflow and task automation functionality. Though Relay lacks the sophistication and, in turn, the complexity of more advanced process automation tools (such as those offered by Nintex, a Box partner), it wins by providing no-code, business-friendly, and rules-based workflow construction and management. Relay contains a comprehensive list of IFTTT (if this then that) triggers and outputs to support sequential and parallel workflows using conditional logic, meaning that files can be routed based on user actions as well as metadata properties. Relay is designed to meet the needs of most, if not all, standard approval requirements, review processes, and structured employee or partner onboarding and offboarding.

All in all, Box provides a comprehensive and powerful cloud-based alternative to a traditional ECM system, complete with more than 1,500 integrations including with Salesforce, Google Workspace, Microsoft Office and Teams, Zoom, and Slack.

However, what has caught our attention, and that of Box’s buyers and prospects, over the past year has been their bundling of eSignature capabilities into the platform. In 2021 the firm acquired Dutch-based SignRequest, and that technology is bundled for free into the platform. Called Box Sign, it provides electronic signature capabilities to address a broad array of e-signature use cases on parity with third-party signature tools but at no cost to its customers.

Also this past year, Box has added to its collaboration capabilities by giving teams a choice of Box-native tools: Box Canvas, Notes, and Content Insights. These let users securely collaborate from anywhere: brainstorming, interactive workshops, creating content including detailed documentation, or curating and publishing content. Because these tools are all within the Box Content Cloud, it comes with Box security and compliance as well as integration with Relay workflows and the customer’s applications.
Finally, and importantly, it is worth noting that the Box platform is one of the more developer-friendly file sharing platforms available. Box has been popular with the developer community for years and has a particularly loyal following. This is due to the strength and breadth of its APIs and SDKs along with the Box CLI (command line interface) to work directly with the APIs. A great deal of thought and work has gone into ensuring that Box is developer-friendly, including providing easy access to event streams, user and authentication models, and a good developer/admin console. Furthermore, it has an extensive user interface (UI) component library to accelerate the development of new applications. The extent of the Box developer community (well over 145,000) and the strong support Box gives to it is also worth calling out.

Figure 1
Box Services, Functionality, and Integrations

Our Opinion

It may be a stretch to classify Box as a low-code platform; however, compared to traditional content management systems, it does provide a lot of low-code functionality. Yet predictably, there is a lot of complexity under the covers, and to its credit Box provides everything a developer needs to build out applications. Moreover, the functionality bundling inherent in the Box platform eliminates a lot of configuration of integration work by default. All in all, Box provides a highly competitive, differentiated alternative to traditional ECM systems that is easy to buy, use, and deploy.

Advice to Buyers

If you are looking to buy or update a traditional ECM system or are planning to roll a file-sharing platform across your organization, we recommend that Box be on your shortlist. Box provides many critical content-related functionalities bundled into a single price and platform. These range from security, collaboration, and migration to e-signatures that would more typically be priced and bought separately.


SOAR Analysis

Strengths

  • Content platform is easy to buy, deploy, and use
  • Offers a lot of bundled functionality compared to competitors

Aspirations

  • Become the preferred cloud-based content management system
  • Grow further outside North America, Europe, and Japan

Opportunities

  • Further establish itself as a low-code content platform
  • Partner and build out more content-centric processes/use cases

Results

  • Over 110,000 customers
  • Strong year-on-year growth with revenues on course to reach $1 billion

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