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Box Notes productivity tool wins over IT with security, UI updates

Box rolled out an update to its collaboration and productivity tool, Box Notes, featuring a new user interface and stand-alone desktop application.

Box Notes' enterprise features and file-sharing integration let organizations embrace new forms of collaboration while maintaining IT security and control.

The productivity tool allows users to take, organize and collaborate on notes, outlines, agendas and more in real time. Box updated the software this week with a simplified user interface and a new stand-alone desktop app for PCs and Apple Macs. Box Notes makes it easier for employees to securely work together without using email, IT professionals said.

"It's really a very easy way to communicate," said Jeff Janovich, a cloud solutions architect at Carlisle Construction Materials, a Box customer in Carlisle, Pa. "Instead of exchanging 100 emails back and forth, everyone can go into the same Box note and put in their ideas."

A similar platform is Dropbox Paper, but Box Notes benefits from the security standard of Box's enterprise file-sync and share (EFSS) platform behind it, said Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

Box Notes includes Box's security and governance certifications, which means IT admins can set all the same security policies on Notes as they could on any file in the EFSS platform. Those policies for the productivity tool include legal holds for storing information that companies may need in future litigation and retention policies for data they must keep for compliance or operational purposes. Both Box and Box Notes follow compliance regulations for industries such as healthcare, government, education and finance. Plus, IT can set multiple levels of permissions and polices to authorize and restrict users' access to certain files, notes and documents.

Dropbox does not extend its security and governance certificates to Paper, Lepofsky said.

Box Notes improves UI, app availability

The new Box Notes interface organizes all of a user's notes in one window and adds a section for recently saved notes. It's also easier to create new notes. Prior to the update, users had to go to the folder they wanted a note saved in before creating a new one, but now, they can create a new note anywhere and save it to any folder after.

The ability to jump back and forth between recent notes is quite nice and is much more organized.
Bob Flynnmanager of cloud technology support, Indiana University

"The ability to jump back and forth between recent notes is quite nice and is much more organized," said Bob Flynn, manager of cloud technology support at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Box Notes was previously available only as a web app or through the Box mobile app. The new desktop application allows users to keep Box Notes and their browser separate, so they don't need multiple tabs open for multiple notes and web pages. These updates are free to all Box customers.

Box Notes will also get offline capabilities and a stand-alone smartphone app in the future, the company said.

Box Notes unlocks users' time

Indiana University has one of the largest Box deployments in the education sector with about 115,000 accounts for students, faculty and staff across eight campuses, Flynn said. The school trusts Box and Box Notes because of its security features and the minimal amount of errors its users run into, he said.

"We get fewer than five technical tickets a week," Flynn added. "It really runs itself. We can't have a full-time admin to deal with issues."

Employees at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a healthcare services provider in Santa Barbara, Calif., use Box Notes to organize meetings and create agendas. Users can collaborate in a folder and write notes about meetings that everyone sees in real time. They can also use the productivity tool to add notes on follow-up tasks and status reports after meetings.

"We all contribute to what we want to talk about in the meeting," said Dominic Namnath, CIO at the nonprofit. "The amount of time it saves people is incredible. There is no central organizer checking on everybody. That job is now gone." 

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How would you integrate Box Notes for company use?
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So this is great news, and a lot of people will love that it's secure and it just comes with their Box subscriptions, and in theory they could say "Hey everybody, please start using Box notes now."

But all these other issues come to mind: So many people have been using Evernote and OneNote for years and years; Box Notes still doesn't have a mobile app; and even if a company has Box, it can take a long time to transition the culture away from emailing documents back and forth.
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For modern enterprises, Information is the second most valuable thing next to employees. In such context, it defies common sense to store sensitive corporate data in 3rd party servers (Box, dropbox or google drive) and pay an exorbitant monthly fees to access it. There are good self-hosted file sharing systems available THAT can provide significant cost reduction, better user experience and total control of corporate data. Just don't blindly believe in hype and do little bit of market research.
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