When it comes to collaboration applications, less is often more.
That's the operating philosophy behind a major new update to the Box.net content management and application collaboration service designed specifically for the enterprise that is being rolled out today.
According to Box.net CEO Aaron Levie, the new version is aimed squarely at enterprise environments that need a clean, simple and intuitive approach to the user interface. That UI, says Levie, is critical because from a user perspective, the design of a browser application should not get in the way of the fundamental goal of sharing information.
The Box.net approach, Levie says, will stand in sharp contrast to collaboration applications aimed at consumers and on-premise tools such as Microsoft SharePoint that are difficult to navigate.
The new release also includes support for real-time updates and the ability to collaborate across projects that span multiple types of documents.
As collaboration application services on the Web gain traction, Levie says the time has also come for Box.net to make it easier for business users to create their own customer applications on top of the Box.net platform. To that end, Box.net is also opening up a marketplace through which the developers of these applications can market them to other end users.
It's pretty clear that in 2011, collaboration applications on the Web are going to mature rapidly as users look for tools that not only are simple and cost-effective to use, but also provide a way to securely collaborate in an environment that could actually be sanctioned and supported by an internal IT department that wants to give end users access to collaboration tools without all the traditional headaches associated with setting up and maintaining that environment.