Dropbox partners Vodafone for small business package

Dropbox and Vodafone have launched a multi-year partnership in Australia with the first offering coming by way of a data and storage solution for small businesses.

File hosting service Dropbox has partnered with Vodafone to offer Australian small businesses a data and storage package aimed at providing businesses a platform for working on the go.

According to both companies, the collaboration will see Dropbox and Vodafone make a play for Australia's estimated AU$774 million cloud applications market.

Charlie Wood, managing director of Dropbox ANZ, said the partnership would go a long way in allowing small businesses to access and enjoy the benefits that come from embracing the cloud for improved mobility and efficiency.

"At Dropbox our mission is to simplify the way people work together," Wood said. "Our partnership with Vodafone will improve this further by allowing the thousands of businesses that are on the Vodafone network to share and collaborate on files more quickly and easily whether they are in the office, working remotely, or on the go."

Wood said the partnership with Vodafone will allow the small business owners to "get on and do their business" with a platform they can run from their phone. He said it brings another level of productivity and mobility to Australia's small businesses.

"The partnership with Vodafone is just a real simplistic way of people being able to consume this technology," he said.

"If you're a small business you can go straight to Vodafone and buy a couple of phones, a couple of tablets, shared data plans, and then automatically provision that with a Dropbox business environment so that you can share, secure, and store all your most important data."

Small businesses that sign up to Dropbox Business via Vodafone Ready Business apps will receive a free 60-day subscription to Dropbox Business.

Dropbox has been in Australia for 18 months and Wood said the decision to set up in the country was straightforward. He said out of the 400 million global subscribers Dropbox has, approximately 8 million are in Australia.

"For the population size, that's an incredible footprint of users," he said. "So it made absolute sense to get close to our customers."

Dropbox recently performed a survey on users and found that almost one in two Australians share files using cloud software at least once a day and 63 percent of small businesses agree cloud technology can help them to grow their business.

Wood said the decision to partner with Vodafone was one that just made sense given both businesses are heading in the same direction with what they are trying to achieve in the business space in Australia today.

"We don't have a problem with brand recognition but the problem for us is really gaining ground and getting a good number of customers to come with us as we move into the enterprise," Wood said.

"As an individual user, Dropbox has always been the best place to secure all your most important stuff and in a business context it's about the intellectual property of the organisation, it's about collaboration internally and externally, and then from an operational point of view it's about controlling that environment, securing it, and integrating with it."

Whilst Wood said he was not going to comment on behalf of Vodafone regarding the coverage limitations of using the telco's network, he did say, however, that the Vodafone network now is not what it was a few years ago, adding that Vodafone has invested a large amount of capital into their network.

Andrew Chanmugam, general manager of business at Vodafone, believes there is a great opportunity for small businesses in Australia to boost productivity and agility. He said that the availability of faster mobile network speeds, the ubiquitous nature of smartphones, and the proliferation of cloud-based applications are providing more tools for businesses to operate effectively outside the office.

"We believe cloud applications are the next big thing in mobile. In the same way mobile email has revolutionised the way we communicate, cloud computing applications are creating a new standard for businesses to manage their information more efficiently," Chanmugam said.

"Cloud technology is having a significant impact on the way almost every element of business is conducted and we want to bring this to Australia's 2 million small business owners. With one in three Australians already using Dropbox, we have an enormous opportunity to improve the way that small businesses operate through improved mobility, security and collaboration.

"We look forward to hearing what the customer response is like to the trial."

The venture with Vodafone is the San Francisco-based company's second partnership in Australia. In August, Dropbox and cloud accounting firm Xero launched the integration of Dropbox for Business with Xero's Tax product in an attempt to remove the administrative burden of sharing files and folders for small businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers.

"Cloud accounting has already immensely improved the way that small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers manage finances, particularly at tax time," Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd said at the time.

"Our partnership with Dropbox will only improve this further, allowing the thousands of small businesses that use Xero in Australia to share and collaborate on their tax files with their tax agents quickly, easily, and efficiently."

On Monday, Dropbox announced it was shuttering products from two of its most prominent releases: Carousel, which was launched in 2014 as a new photo storage app intended for sharing content primarily with smaller groups; and Mailbox, a mobile app and Gmail client for iPhone, which was acquired in 2013 by Dropbox.

Hinting at a continued focus on enterprise services over those for consumers, Dropbox said shutting down both services is an attempt at revamping the traditional email inbox, with its co-founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi apologising to loyal users in a blog post.

The post explained that Dropbox has "increased our team's focus on collaboration and simplifying the way people work together".

Dropbox said it is currently building an ecosystem of connected applications through the Dropbox Partner Network, including Microsoft, Xero, Adobe, IBM, Slack, DocuSign, and Dell. The file storage service said such partnerships are aimed at powering the next phase of collaboration and helping people work the way they want.

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