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Dropbox's Adam Nelson Talks Collaboration, Challenges and MoreDropbox's Adam Nelson Talks Collaboration, Challenges and More

Dropbox’s recent acquisition of MobileSpan, a startup that helps people share content securely outside of corporate firewalls, is the latest in the company’s quest to engage enterprise customers.

June 12, 2014

8 Min Read
Dropbox's Adam Nelson Talks Collaboration, Challenges and More

By Marie Alonso 1

Dropbox’s recent acquisition of MobileSpan, a startup that helps people share content securely outside of corporate firewalls, is the latest in the company’s quest to engage enterprise customers. With Dropbox news hitting regularly, Adam Nelson, head of Channel Sales and Partnerships at Dropbox, spoke with Talkin’ Cloud about the cloud innovator’s drive for the ultimate in mobile document collaboration, cloud challenges facing businesses today and what Dropbox for Business is really all about and the company’s modest vision of 3 billion global users, plus a look at the friendly corporate culture of Dropbox.

Talkin’ Cloud: If you ran into a person who had never heard of Dropbox, and you only had two minutes to tell them what Dropbox was all about, what would you say?

Nelson: At its core, Dropbox is about simplifying the way you access and share your digital stuff. It’s a service that lets you take all your photos, docs and videos with you anywhere and share them with ease. Dropbox’s powerful sync automatically saves files to the Dropbox website and your computer, phone and tablet. You can also easily share files with others and restore files via the Dropbox website with just a few clicks.
Talkin’ Cloud: What are the challenges that businesses face today in taking their documents to the cloud for more effective collaborations? And, what are the concerns keeping some businesses from embracing this efficient option in file sharing?

Nelson: The biggest challenge we see businesses facing today is finding a solution that satisfies both IT needs and end-user preferences. In many cases, IT introduces a solution that fulfills their requirements and mandates it for employees. However, without full adoption, employees eventually start bringing their preferred solution to the workplace.

Dropbox for Business was born to meet the tremendous demand from CIOs and IT administrators for a tool that has the control and visibility they require, and employees love to use. Dropbox is already used in over 4 million businesses and 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which indicates it solves a key need for end users. Dropbox for Business is the same user-friendly tool employees know and trust, combined with the administrative controls necessary for IT.

Talkin’ Cloud: Tell us about Dropbox for Business. With it, Dropbox is bringing an amazing simplicity to document storage and sharing for today’s mobile professionals. Why could this service be vital for businesses looking to optimize the cloud?

Nelson: Dropbox is at the forefront of major trends affecting the workplace, including the trend toward cloud-based solutions and the consumerization of IT. These trends emerged because businesses need to operate more flexibly and employees want to operate more productively.

With a cloud-based solution like Dropbox for Business, our customers are able to access their data from anywhere, including in the field or offline. We offer cost savings and efficiencies over traditional on-premise solutions. And consistent, reliable access to up-to-date information helps increase employee productivity. Dropbox for Business also enables employees to have all the files they need from their own devices, minimizing setup time.

Talkin’ Cloud: How are businesses, large and small, experiencing Dropbox for Business?

Nelson: In businesses of all sizes, you’ll notice a number of employees using Dropbox to get their jobs done. IT managers at those companies might not be aware of the benefits of Dropbox for Business, or the extent of Dropbox usage at their firm.

Our sales professionals are having daily conversations with companies large and small to help them understand the benefits of using Dropbox for Business in the workplace—benefits for the users, for IT and for the company as a whole. We’ve also built a partner network of solution providers who are a trusted voice in introducing our business solution to their customers.

Talkin’ Cloud: What is the Dropbox Partner Network? What kind of customers are they working with and how do they fit in with your team?

Nelson: The Dropbox Partner Network is comprised of IT solution providers and consultants who work directly with our customers. We view our channel partners as an extension of our team. They help us with expanding the scale and reach of our services and geography. Our partners help customers transition from legacy systems or consumer-grade cloud file-sharing products to Dropbox for Business. In turn, we provide our partners with all the necessary support and resources they need to make customers successful.

Talkin’ Cloud: How do partners in this network benefit from the program?

Nelson: Our partners receive a recurring margin on all renewals and upsells for each client. When they achieve certain program goals, our best partners are also eligible for higher margins and other goodies. All of our victories are joint victories—when they win, we win.

Talkin’ Cloud: Where is the Dropbox Partner Network currently available?

Nelson: In addition to the United States, the Dropbox Partner Network is now available to solution providers in the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So far, more than 750 partners have signed up. Our international partners also have access to our Partner Portal, where they’re able to manage teams on their clients’ behalf and download Dropbox resources.

Talkin’ Cloud: Dropbox for Business includes unlimited version history, so users can track changes and recover work faster. But, how secure is Dropbox for Business?

Nelson: Whether for consumers or businesses, account security and data privacy is our top priority. For example, all user data is encrypted using industry-standard technologies in transit and when stored. On the back end, Dropbox is built with multiple layers of protection covering data transfer, encryption, network configuration and application-level controls. In addition, built-in product security features include two-factor authentication, single sign-on via Active Directory integration and account activity reports. For an in-depth look at Dropbox for Business security, customers can take a look at our security whitepaper.

Talkin’ Cloud: What are the key objectives for Dropbox at this time, in terms of the company’s services? What are the services Dropbox most wants small businesses to optimize today?

Nelson: Our vision is to be the home for all 3 billion Internet users’ most important stuff. We’re in an era of growing digital chaos: The average Internet user has at least two devices, 40 or more mobile apps and two to three operating systems. Other workarounds and solutions add to the chaos. Local shared drives aren’t secure or easy to manage, and email is too clumsy. Dropbox simplifies complex solutions by making them easy and reliable for the end user.

Specifically for small businesses, our goal is to provide a simple, secure, and reliable solution that eliminates the need to send email attachments or use USB thumb drives. On top of that, we’ve also created a robust platform for developers to build apps that integrate with Dropbox, and over 300,000 apps have been built to date. With Dropbox for Business, we’ve provided business owners and IT admins with the control and visibility they need to effectively manage Dropbox in an organization.

Talkin’ Cloud: What makes Dropbox, as a company, so likeable? What is the culture like at Dropbox for its nearly 700 employees?

Nelson: The most common characteristic all Dropboxers share is a passion for realizing our company’s mission. We have a team of incredibly talented and driven individuals, dedicated to building a world-class product. Part of what makes that happen is our office environment—its open layout makes it easy for Dropboxers to work together and seek out a diversity of opinions.

Talkin’ Cloud: If Dropbox were a candy, what flavor would it be?

Nelson: This might be the toughest question so far! Arash, our co-founder and CTO, is a big fan of watermelons, so it’d probably be that.

Talkin’ Cloud: Speaking of food, does (Dropbox Founder) Drew Houston ever eat in the Dropbox cafeteria?

Nelson: Of course! The Tuck Shop, Dropbox’s cafeteria, is a core part of Dropbox’s culture. Dropbox’s product and design teams are rooted in “sweating the details,” something we see reflected in each new entree the chef team cooks up. Drew, along with his entire executive staff, eats alongside employees in the cafe.

Talkin’ Cloud: Finally, with cloud computing in a continual climb for businesses of all sizes, and new technologies being introduced regularly to enhance a company’s cloud experiences, what is next for Dropbox in regard to creating new and innovative opportunities to leverage cloud flexibility and functionality?

Nelson: One of our recent efforts focuses on simplifying collaboration. We recently demoed a sneak peek of Project Harmony, an initiative we hope to make available later this year. Project Harmony allows you to see who’s editing a file, have a conversation with other editors, and keep copies in sync—all right inside the apps you already use.  

In April, we also released the all-new Dropbox for Business. It includes features that help admins gain additional visibility and control over their company’s data. Dropbox for Business users are now able to connect and simultaneously access a work and personal Dropbox account. Remote wipe allows admins to remotely delete the contents of a user’s Dropbox account. Account transfer lets them move one user’s Dropbox account to another, and sharing audit logs provide deeper visibility into how Dropbox for Business is being accessed.
thumb-mariealonso-0.jpgMarie Alonso is an online marketing and content strategist at Miles Technologies, a leading IT company. The Miles Technologies team contributes business-driven content to TalkinCloud regularly.

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