Box Unfurls Service for Constructing Custom Workflows

    One of the major issues that IT organizations have always struggled with is to what degree they should try to impose any given workflow on their end users. There are clearly patterns to how work gets processed. But each end user tends to approach each one of those processes in a slightly different way.

    Aiming to make it possible for end users to more easily create and customize their own workflows, Box today, in collaboration with IBM, unveiled a Box Relay extension to the Box file synchronization and sharing service.

    Formally scheduled to be announced at the BoxWorks 2016 conference tomorrow, Rand Wacker, vice president of enterprise product for Box, says Box Relay makes use of the IBM Bluemix platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment to create a workflow service that is native to Box.

    “Box Relay provides a means through which end users can control ad hoc collaboration,” says Wacker.

    Available in beta in the fourth quarter, Box Relay will not formally be available until the first half of 2017. But for IT organizations, Box Relay has the potential to essentially take them out of the business of deploying rigid workflow systems that end users typically resist.

    Box Relay

    Each person or team using Box as a content management system can create a workflow that not only addresses Box natively, but also all the backend systems that Box is integrated with. For example, Box last week announced an alliance with SAP under which Box is more tightly integrated with the SAP SuccessFactors human resources application delivered via the cloud.

    As file synchronization and sharing continue to evolve in the enterprise, it’s clear that these services are starting to emerge as a universal overlay for managing a wide variety of content. As the evolution continues to occur, it becomes logical to start building workflows on top of what is now essentially a distributed content management platform.

    The difference now is that platform is being embraced from the bottom up by end users versus imposed from the top down by an IT organization that typically doesn’t have much insight into how work needs to flow within and across different departments.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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