Cloud content company Box Inc. is going big on teamwork today with the launch of a new virtual whiteboard and visual collaboration tool called Box Canvas.
To be announced at the digital Box Content Cloud Summit on April 14, Box Canvas is a new capability that’s built directly into Box. It’s designed to connect hybrid teams securely and enable them to brainstorm, ideate and create collaboratively from any location.
Box Canvas provides Box customers with access to an unlimited number of canvases they can use to brainstorm ideas in real time or alternatively at their own pace.. Other team members are free to join at any time that’s convenient for them.
The canvases are really a kind of virtual meeting environment, and what’s compelling is that users can work the way they want, expressing themselves with free-form drawing if they prefer, in addition to text. It also allows team members to present data in the form of diagrams, wireframes and process flows using visual elements such as shapes and connectors.
Box said users can choose from a number of pre-made canvases to help outline their ideas and plans, with various tools that allow them to make slides directly in Box Canvas. Users can also provide feedback via sticky notes and comments or vote on ideas with emoji.
The company sees Box Canvas being useful for a range of teams. For instance, marketing teams can use it to conduct an interactive workshop to design their next campaign. Once the plan has been finalized, the end result can be saved and shared with internal and external teams to take action on it.
Meanwhile, product teams might use Box Canvas to map and visualize something such as the login flow for a new software application. Once done, the diagram can be routed to a developer team via Box Relay for input or approval.
Sales teams may also find Canvas useful for creating sales presentations and interactive account plans, Box said. They can even invite their clients to participate in collaborative efforts.
Finally, Box said, Canvas is a good fit for human resources teams, enabling them to run hands-on training and onboarding sessions, with participants able to interact at their own pace.
Box Chief Product Officer Diego Dugatkin said that around 70% of companies in the U.S. and Europe are planning to adopt a hybrid work strategy. As such, they’re adopting a new way of working that requires more dynamic and fluid tools that go beyond the static documents we’re used to.
“Box is taking collaboration to the next level with Box Canvas,” he said. “Our goal is to unleash the power of creativity so teams can solve complex problems, nurture fresh ideas, and create new ways of working together from anywhere.”
Canvas should certainly get a wide audience, since Box already claims to serve 67% of the Fortune 500 companies. It will be made available to all Box customers free of charge and with unlimited canvases, no matter what plan they’re on, when it goes live in the fall.
Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. said Box has always been considered the “Switzerland of collaboration” because it provides the storage, workflow and sharing capabilities for all kinds of third-party content.
“Now with Canvas, Box has created its own property for that work, something that’s necessary for it to truly own the collaborative user experience,” he said. “This is a key move for Box that will give it more wallet share, as it is the clicks of users that create subscription revenue.”
International Data Corp. analyst Holly Muscolino said she’s optimistic that Box Canvas will get a good reception from its customers because organizations today can no longer get by on a one-size-fits-all approach.
“Historically, Box as a platform has always given users the freedom to work in the way that’s best for them, from any device, in any location, and in any application,” Muscolino said. “With the introduction of Canvas, Box is taking this flexibility of choice one step further by bringing interactive, visual modes of collaboration into the mix, and providing a new way for employees to stay connected regardless of whether they are in the office or at home.”