Box this week has taken steps to make its cloud-based content platform the center of organizational and individual workflows with a focus on applying artificial intelligence to business and individual workflows.
The company just released a number of enhancements to its namesake platform, including a more intelligent activity stream and workflow engine that is linked to other productivity tools and platforms. The news came out of the company's annual BoxWorks conference for partners, developers and customers, held this week in San Francisco.
Box is integrated with 1,400 applications, including Microsoft Office, Salesforce, Slack and DocuSign. The company announced some new ones, including the private preview of Box for Google’s G Suite. Also new, Box for G Suite lets users work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Box, see version histories, collaborate and change to other file formats.
At BoxWorks, the company also released a private preview of software that will enable partners to add the cloud content provider’s AI-based collaboration features into their respective offerings. CEO Aaron Levie announced that the Box Skills Kit is available to select partners and will be generally available in December.
“We want to make sure that when customers want to be able to access their data from anywhere, any application, any device, anywhere around the world,” Levie told CNBC this week. “We’re fully integrated into all of the services that they’re using. Partnerships are really core to our business.”
The Box Skills Kit includes APIs, sample code and documentation for its partners’ developers to tie into their AI frameworks to build capabilities that can extract information from any type of content stored in Box — including documents, audio, images and video.
During the opening keynote session at BoxWorks, the company showcased several partners that are participating in its Box Skills beta program, including IBM, Deloitte, Robots & Pencils, Codelitt and AIM Consulting, which are building custom AI-based solutions for digital-transformation initiatives.
IBM announced in June that it had formed an extended partnership with Box to integrate its Watson AI technology with the Box Skills framework to build custom skills. IBM created a custom skill called Watson Natural Language that automatically tags documents in Box with related entities and keywords to make the files easier to search. Another skill, Watson Visual Recognition, adds classifiers to image data to also make it easier to analyze, discover and enable the training of custom visual models.
David Kenny, senior VP for IBM Watson, demonstrated how AF Financial is using Watson Visual Recognition to accelerate mortgage underwriting by making it easier to tag information so it can easily be searched and analyzed. Kenny also demonstrated how U.S. Legal Support is using it to make it easier to manage and search for transcripts.
The Box Skills Kit effectively is a platform to support third-party AI tools such as Watson, said Constellation Research analyst Alan Lepofsky, in a You Tube recording (below) posted at BoxWorks.
“Box skills isn’t Box’s own artificial-intelligence engine; instead, Box Skills is a framework that allows developers to use other AI platforms to access and take action on the content that’s stored in Box,” he said. “A developer can use IBM Watson, they can use Google Cloud, they can use Microsoft Azure, AWS, or they can use hundreds of niche artificial-intelligence engines.”