I am on the plane to attend BoxWorks 2012, the annual user conference of Box. Before hearing anything from Box, I am trying to make sense of Box’s strategy based on what I heard in the past 3 weeks during Salesforce and Tibco events. It will be interesting to hear from Box in the next two days about how they are going to compete in their market segment especially when Salesforce and Microsoft is ramping up their offerings.
We are seeing an emerging trend where social and cloud content management are coming together targeting enterprise customers. As organizations start embracing social technologies both inside and outside of their perimeter, it only makes sense to blend social with content management. We saw Salesforce, which already has a strong social presence, bringing in Chatterbox to take care of the content management needs of their customers. We saw Microsoft buying Yammer which might help shore up their Sharepoint offerings. There is VMware which could put their Socialcast acquisition to good use (with Mozy?). Even though Box has been building a somewhat primitive collaboration feature around the content stored on their platform, they also announced a partnership with Tibbr which is somewhat interesting in this discussion.
What I am wondering is whether Box will position themselves as a content management platform that could potentially interoperate with social technologies from 3rd party vendors. In other words, will Box play the “best of breed” game against the “suite” approach taken by Salesforce, Microsoft and, possibly, VMware. If it is the case, how effective it will be compared to tighter integration that will happen in the case of the “suite approach”. Yes, Yammer is still not part of any suite from Microsoft but I would be surprised if Microsoft didn’t integrate Yammer with their cloud offerings in the future. Chatterbox is not out yet but I am pretty sure it is tightly integrated with Chatter helping Salesforce customers seamlessly collaborate around the content. On the other hand, Box’s integration with Tibbr is “very loose” and could end up creating social silos. I am really curious to see a more cohesive strategy from Box with regards to social collaboration around content. I am sincerely hoping to hear something from Aaron Levie, CEO of Box either during the Keynote or at the Analyst event. If you are watching this space, this is something you may want to closely watch from Box during Boxworks 2012.
Disclosure: Box is paying for my travel and stay during Boxworks 2012