Salesforce and Box get closer together for richer experiences and easier integrations

Clouds over city

Yesterday Salesforce and Box jointly announced an upcoming pilot of Salesforce Files Connect for Box (starting in February next year), and a Box SDK for Salesforce (available immediately). Whilst not heralding as such a strategic partnership commitment as last summer’s news about IBM and Box, there’s certainly parallels here with how Box and Salesforce’s respective platforms look set to play together reducing friction for users and developers alike.

The IBM and Box relationship has already delivered integrations between some of IBM’s key ECM and Case Management tools with content held on the Box cloud, plus Box APIs are now available for developers to build their own solutions with on the Bluemix platform. That news signalled a step change in Box’’s platform positioning in content-related business application contexts beyond its productivity and collaboration heartland. A trajectory that’s continuing here, now in the Salesforce world of CRM.

But where Box brought to IBM a cloudier ECM flavour for a suite with more of an on-premise heritage (and IBM brought serious business application credibility and global solutions reach to Box); with Box and Salesforce, the two companies are very much both of the born-in-the cloud variety – and, as we’’ve seen in MWD’s case study of Box’s deployment at the London Borough of Hounslow, it’s not uncommon for Box’s content collaboration customers to have also opted for cloud-based CRM with Salesforce (and vice versa). However, what the new announcements do signal is that it’s now going to be much easier for third parties to be able build those combined solutions (and replicate the successes we’ve seen in case studies), and the experience they’ll be able to provide should to be much more smooth and seamless.

Salesforce Files Connect for Box will enable Box users to seamlessly search, browse, share and collaborate on Box files via any device without leaving the Salesforce platform; and content under management on the Box platform will be able to be connected directly to records, users, and groups within Salesforce. February’s pilot is expected to lead to general availability in the summer, with pricing due to be announced then.

The Box SDK for Salesforce is available now (without charge) and enables developers to leverage Box’s content management capabilities within any app built on the Salesforce App Cloud (therefore embedding those capabilities into Salesforce processes and customisations).

So, more of a consolidation of a co-existence for cloud-based content / CRM integrations that’s already clocked up many miles in the air without such explicit assistance, than a tie-up leading to adventures in especially new waters… but one that strengthens Box’s business platform play, and certainly makes it easier for those basing their content / CRM workflows in the cloud to construct a more frictionless end-to-end service.

It’s also an acknowledgement that now everybody’s getting their own platform, there’ll never be one to rule them all. Platform-to-Platform may be the best-in-breeds’ new Point-to-Point, but at least it’s done more in the name of ecosystems than closed systems – which has got to be better for developers, customers, and end-users in this more heterogeneous world.