Less than 24 hours after Box warned of slowing revenue growth over the next year or so, company executives took the stage at BoxWorks 2018 in San Francisco Wednesday to make the case that there’s still lots of business ahead as more companies ditch their bloated old enterprise software suites in favor of a mashup of software-as-a-service apps from different companies.
“Every company must become a digital business,” said co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, kicking off the opening day’s events. “We think we’ll see more change in how we work over the next three years compared to the last thirty.”
Box doesn’t want you to think of it as just a cloud-based file-storage company anymore; it’s a “cloud content management” company, which skims over the fact that content is stored in files, but expands its reach into different departments within its current and potential customers. This is in line with a broader shift in enterprise software purchases, which used to be handled in top-down fashion by the tech department but are increasingly tested, evaluated, and purchased by the end-users of the product, such as marketing managers or product designers.
During the opening keynote, Box announced a new feature that will let users see updates from other enterprise applications, like DocuSign or Slack, inside the Box app. Box administrators will also be able to set up “recommended apps” that suggest the other software-as-a-service apps in their company’s arsenal when users want to email a file, or share a presentation with their colleagues.
Box users will soon be able to work more closely with Google’s G Suite, now that a partnership announced at Google’s Cloud Next conference last month has become a public beta project. And it also announced a beta project called Box Feed, which will allow Box users to see a feed of activity across their organizations, highlighting “trending” documents as well as recently viewed or edited files.
Like other enterprise technology companies of its generation that have established a foothold within tech-forward organizations, Box now has its sights set on the huge number of companies that still do things the old-fashioned way with technology products and workflows that haven’t been updated since the Bush administration. There are far more of those companies and organizations than you might think, and those companies are waking up to the fact that younger, nimbler competitors built around cutting-edge tech tools are eating their lunch.
“Markets are changing faster than ever,” Levie said. “The competition is more intense than ever before, and startups can get started and disrupt legacy industries.”
This process has been dubbed “digital transformation,” and while that’s another straight-outta-marketing phrase for the already long list of vague tech soundbites, it captures a real shift among companies that have realized they have to work much faster and smarter than their current processes allow. Levie’s opening keynote was directed at those business and tech leaders who are looking for something that will jump-start their companies.
That mindset might also apply to Box itself. Investors were pretty disappointed with its second-quarter earnings report released Tuesday afternoon. The company beat analyst expectations for the quarter but warned of slowing growth ahead, and backed off a goal of achieving a $1 billion annual revenue run rate by 2021.
Box is now encouraging its salespeople to pursue bigger deals, according to an interview Levie did with CNBC on Tuesday. But as it goes after those bigger companies, it runs squarely into deep-pocketed SaaS competitors like Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce, not to mention long-time rival and newly minted public company Dropbox.