Box adds new integrations with Microsoft, Slack, steps up security

This week during its BoxWorks conference, the cloud content management company is also opening up its new Box Sign feature to all US users.

Box on Wednesday announced new, major integrations with Microsoft and Slack, as well as a series of product updates that include new, AI-driven malware protection. Box rolled out the updates during its annual BoxWorks conference, following a turbulent year that has ramped up cloud-based content management and collaboration expectations. 

"This past year and a half, everything we've been doing has been consistent with our long-term vision," Box CEO Aaron Levie said to ZDNet. "But the rate of change and number of things we're doing vastly exceeds what we would've imagined." 

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For instance, Levie said, strong customer demand drove Box's entry into the e-signature market -- something he didn't necessarily foresee happening a few years ago, he said. "But because of COVID-19, everyone's moving to digital workflows, and we're now entering a multi-billion dollar category."

After acquiring SignRequest for $55 million in February, Box released its native e-signature feature, Box Sign, to a subset of users in July. This week, Box is rolling it out to all US users. 

"Fundamental patterns of work are evolving because of this hybrid nature of working in different locations," Levie said. "It's affecting our entire product roadmap." 

The accelerated move to digital work also spurred a spike in ransomware attacks. To respond to the problem, Box is adding new capabilities to Box Shield, the company's flagship security control and threat detection solution. The new malware deep scan capability scans files in near real-time as they are uploaded to Box. It uses deep learning technology and external threat intelligence to analyze the data within files and contain malware. The feature is designed to minimize disruptions to workflows. Admins, for instance, can occasionally override threat verdicts for low-risk content.

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Box

Box also announced improved, machine learning-powered alerts in Box Shield, as well as more detailed alerts for admins that explain why certain behaviors are deemed risky. 

Over time, Levie said, Box plans to add more features to Box Shield that will help customers with rollbacks in the event of an attack, as well as features to prevent ransomware from getting into different file environments. 

In addition to updating Box Shield, Box is revamping Box Notes with more collaboration features. The improved product will let users add a table of contents, anchor links, and more to simplify content organization and navigation within a Box Note. It will also include call-out boxes so users can better highlight content, code blocks to simplify the technical collaboration process, and in-line cursors to help keep track of edits in real-time. It will also feature new security and control capabilities, like granular permissions and access stats.

The updated Box Notes is expected to be generally available in January 2022 and will be included in the core Box offering at no additional cost.

Meanwhile, the Box mobile app is getting a new Capture Mode, for iOS and Android, for seamlessly capturing, scanning, and uploading photos, audio, or documents. This should make it easier for field teams to add content directly into Box. The app is also getting Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that recognizes text automatically and turns scanned documents into searchable PDFs. The new OCR feature includes multi-language support. There will also be a redesigned iPad experience with a simplified layout. 

In terms of integrations, Box for Microsoft Office will now enable real-time co-authoring on the Office desktop, and mobile apps (including Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint) with all edits automatically saved to Box. Meanwhile, an updated Box for Microsoft Teams integration will allow customers to default to Box as a storage option in Teams. Box and Microsoft have hundreds of thousands of joint customers. The enhanced Box for Microsoft Office integration is expected to be available in early 2022, and the Teams integration is expected to be available by the end of the year. 

Box is also deepening its integration with Slack, so users can make Box the content layer in Slack by uploading files directly to Box through the Slack interface. They can maintain Box's security and compliance standards, even when files are uploaded through Slack. The new capabilities are expected to be available later this year and will be included in the core Box offering.