Gerry Brown (CX Research Director)

In the movie Marathon Man, the bad guy (Laurence Olivier) pushes his dentist drill into the tooth of the good guy (Dustin Hoffman) to force him to reveal his knowledge. “Is it safe?” he repeats time after time as he drills into a raw nerve. In the case of Box, the answer to the question “Is IT safe?” is almost certainly “yes”.

Box has invested heavily to make its content management platform safe and secure for enterprise use, which has encouraged 70% of the Fortune 500 companies to invest in Box’s products.

Box Competes in Enterprise Cloud Content Management Market

Unlike its close namesake Dropbox, Box has been a dedicated enterprise software vendor since its incorporation in 2005. As such, Box has invested in becoming part of the enterprise “stack” by offering excellent security and interoperability with more than 1,500 other vendors. Starting out as a file sync and share vendor, Box has transformed into a content management vendor and now has emerged as a collaboration platform play. Box competes in the cloud content management (CCM) market, which it believes to be a $40 billion market opportunity.

Box Complements Legacy Software Investments

Unlike others, Box does not sell a “walled garden” collaboration platform, but rather is a best-of-breed “component” of the Future of Work as it seeks to fulfil its mission “to power how the world works together”. Essentially Box co-exists with heavyweight enterprise content management (ECM) vendors such as OpenText and Microsoft SharePoint as a simpler, quicker, easy-to-use and open alternative that is accessible and usable by everyday knowledge workers. There is still probably a place for legacy ECM systems as a repository for enterprise archives, but as a friendly, accessible, front-line content tool that does not require any specialist programming skills, Box punches above its weight.

Box Relay for workflow was launched last week and replaces a previous joint development with IBM. Again, Box does not seek to compete with heavyweight business process tools like Pega, but rather to complement these tools with a lightweight version for the everyday needs of knowledge workers. Mostly ECM and business process tools are for internal enterprise usage. Again, Box is a little different. Box is designed for both internal and external ecosystem use with some clients “white labelling” Box as their own content management portal.

 A Use Case Example

An example use case is the development of marketing promotional content that involves external design and media agencies. Marketers brief their agencies. The agencies come up with creative concepts. The marketers refine their content and add their logos and other branding elements. They all collaborate to produce the final content, and the media agency produces different versions for distribution across media channels.

Many different non-technical content contributors and editors, a mix of internal and external actors, a requirement for secure communications, and workflow and approval processes — this is “straight thru processing for content” without the change management nightmare of using email. This is Box territory.

Box Part of the “New Age” Cloud Software Stack

Box wants to be in the “new age” cloud tech stack that includes Okta, Slack and Zoom and seeks to unseat legacy vendors like Microsoft. Box may not have the brand image and inflated share price of these “cool kids” and is more the “nerdy kid” that gets the A*s in exams for high quality workmanship. Like the Marathon Man, Box’s strategy is to break free and outpace its rivals using its long-run innovation and user engagement fitness rather than focusing on short-term operating results. That is of course unless an interesting acquirer comes along. Time will tell.

If you want to learn more about content management or have any questions, please contact Gerry Brown or head over to and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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