Box announces new activity stream for content management

The activity stream, announced at the BoxWorks conference, advances Box's goal of making its platform a single, neutral space for managing content across applications.

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As companies conduct more and more business on the cloud, their files and documents are likely to pass through multiple SaaS applications. Keeping track of how documents are modified, and with which programs, can be a challenge. To address that, Box is rolling out a new feature that tracks content activity across a range of third-party applications.

Box announced the new activity stream on Wednesday at its annual BoxWorks conference. It's one of a series of announcements focused on improving the digital workplace.

"In order to have a digital workplace, people are using different tools, but often these tools tend to be operating in silos," Jeetu Patel, Chief Product Officer at Box, said to ZDNet ahead of the conference. "How do you make sure you have a fluid experience across multiple, best-of-breed tools -- if you have Salesforce, Slack, etc., how do these work fluidly with one another?"

The activity stream sits in a sidebar alongside an open file in Box. With this feature, Box effectively serves as a central hub where users can find a single source of truth about their files.

So, for example, if a file in Box is added to a Salesforce record, that activity will immediately be visible from the activity stream. The stream also lets users click on that listed activity to jump to the location where it happened -- in this example, a user could go from Box to the new Salesforce record.

The new feature also gives users recommendations for third-party apps that might be useful for a particular file. For instance, a user might want to share a link via Gmail or send a file for a signature with DocuSign. The recommendations are based on factors such as apps the user frequently uses, apps popular within their company and apps associated with the file type.

The feature is a logical addition for Box, which has forged a number of strategic partnerships and integrations in order to stay competitive in the crowded space of collaboration and content management. Box now integrates with more than 1,400 applications. The company on Tuesday posted record revenues for Q2 fiscal 2019, with Box CEO Aaron Levie stressing the company's "approach to providing a single, neutral platform for cloud content management."

In addition to unveiling the activity stream, Box on Wednesday announced the public beta availability of its new Box for G Suite and Gmail integrations. The G Suite integration, first announced at the Google Next conference earlier this year, allow customers to create, edit, and collaborate on G Suite files from within Box, while maintaining Box's admin controls and its security and compliance capabilities. With the Gmail integration, users can attach Box files and download email attachments to Box, without leaving Gmail.

Box on Wednesday also announced the public beta of Box Feed, which provides users with personalized updates, activities, and recommended content on Box.

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