I find it interesting that one of the oldest Online Storage (oops Cloud Storage) providers continues to reinvent what it is and how it operates. I have been peeling back the layers of Cloud Computing this week and what I am finding is that there is some incredibly robust and solid performers that started off as well for lack of a better term rinky dink consumer services. I have been a subscriber to the Free Box.net service for nearly 6 years now and I really did not realize that I had been upgraded to a full 50GB of storage!
I have heard many horror stories about Enterprise gaffs with the Consumer connection to Box or its similar Cloud Storage brethren like Dropbox and iCloud but when I look at those services…I am just not as impressed as I am with Box and its new direction that includes people like me who love and need more storage all the way up to Enterprise IT Clients that need to enable a service that is secure and able to meet the demand of an “any device” collection of data.
When we go to the Box.com/Box.net site they have three distinct levels of service, the Personal Account like I have (which starts with 5GB of Storage), a Business Service and and Enterprise IT Service. I thought that I would take a quick look at the Business Portal today:
I have myself leveraged my Box.net account as an alternative to FTP and for secure File Sharing but new to this whole concept are the Mobile Content Management, Project Collaboration, Virtual Data Room, Sales Portal and a Customers Portal. This new addition to the content not only intrigues me but also has me salivating both as a Geek and as a Sales Guy.
As a Sales Guy I thought it would be interesting to take the Sales Portal for a Spin and see where it takes me.
So in looking at the specs for the Sales Portal, the usual claims in making Sales Smarter, Speeding up the Sales Cycle and Gain an Extra Hour are there…ok I get that…if you are trying to sell a typical non technical Sales Exec you are speaking the right language but I am Technical and I really don’t ever want to be a Sales Exec so what is in it for me…the user?
Well…an interesting addition to the wonderful world of Mobile computing is the concept of the eSignature…in a world that has gone increasingly paperless and with mobile devices everywhere…the ability to get and return a signed document without using Fax or Snail Mail is really cool and a huge time saver.
Connecting directly to Salesforce.com is also a real winner. All of the Sales Materials that a Marketing Department pushes out can be available at ones fingertips and that way but it can also enable all devices to be able to access them with just one login from a shared folder.
The Customer facing Portal reduces the need to send never read attachments and provides the link into a customer specific portal that tracks and notifies the Sales Professional when objects are viewed or downloaded. Also connected are the eSignature options that connect to industry standard services like Docusign, Echosign and eFax.
Finally, as a Stats Guy (oh how I love to analyse statistics, trends and opportunities), the investment in this service can be tracked and measured to enable effective use and training opportunities. Knowing what materials are being shared and what ones are having the greatest impact and aligning with the sales process and objectives can build a better and stronger competitive advantage for an organization that is moving down a path together.
I realize that just a couple of weeks ago I was shouting from the mountain tops about the Personal Cloud not happening for me and I still firmly believe that I will create an in house solution long before I ever port my data entirely to any single provider but for business or for key content and files in my 9-5 job…I am going to leverage Box.net much more.
At just $15 per user per month, the value of tapping into the custom API and extra Apps that spring up on the platform quickly…I would hazard a guess that what started as a Consumer Service…will continue to expand and be the gold standard in SMB Cloud Storage for some time to come.
Well, I will now get off my Soap Box for a bit, get cleaned up and ready to tackle another day…I am just hoping headache free as I enter into day 26 of Migraine city (that is 26 out of 34 working days suffering from a headache).
Chris J Powell