The online collaboration service has added the social-networking concept of a newsfeed of activity updates to its management tools.
The online collaboration service has added the social-networking concept of a newsfeed of activity updates to its management tools.Box.net offers the necessary set of features for a collaboration and content management platform: file sharing, communication, and version control. According to company CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie, their goal is to make it "easy for businesses to share information with anyone, anywhere." Levie sees Box.net as falling in the vast middle space between simple shared, synced storage like Dropbox at one end, and complex, high-TCO offerings like Microsoft SharePoint at the other.
The problem the company is trying to address with its new feature is that even with a service like Box.net in place, information tends to stay within existing silos and groups. "It's hard to connect the right people with the right information," says Levie. That's the purpose of adding a newsfeed--"to expose information in relevant and intuitive ways."
As in Facebook and business-oriented social networking tools, the newsfeed provides a constantly updated stream of information--in this case, information about content. The benefits are, for example, that collaborators who might have been left off a group e-mail asking for comments won't miss the request in the newsfeed. Contributions by remote or mobile workers will be available right away. And everyone involved will know when someone has viewed a document or commented on it. "It drives relevant activities and surfaces them to users," says Levie. Box.net had an update function already, but it was "more like an RSS reader," in Levie's words.
Box.net has opened the newsfeed to partners in its open platform for Web applications. That means that apps business can use within Box.net, such as Zoho and TextFlow, as well as outside apps that can access Box.net, such as Salesforce and LinkedIn, can all contribute to the newsfeed. The plan is also to work with other feed providers, such as Salesforce Chatter. The company anticipates that newsfeed usage will increase five times over the next year.
Box.net's vision of the flow of information in its new newsfeed.