Box: We’re in ‘wait-and-see mode’ with blockchain

Adam Shepherd

25 Jun, 2019

Box CEO Aaron Levie has confirmed that the company has no plans to integrate blockchain technology into its product portfolio, citing the fact that it’s still too early to have a meaningful impact for its customers.

The cloud collaboration company’s co-founder began his keynote at Box’s annual CIO Summit today by joking that he was teaching his new son – who was born late last month – ‘blockchain for babies’ so he is prepared for the future. Joking aside, however, Levie admitted that the company is not actively exploring blockchain technology.

“We have no specific products that we are working on at the moment, however, we do have people within the organisation that are either researching or always evaluating what might make sense,” he said.

“I think, frankly, we’re a little bit in wait and see mode to see where the trends are going. And we would certainly be there from a product standpoint, when we think it’s very meaningful for our customers… In general, it’s still probably early from a market standpoint, and relative to our technology.”

One branch of technology that Box is actively integrating into its portfolio, though, is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The company has already begun deploying this technology on a limited basis via its Box Skills Kit feature, which allows customers to build their own integrations with other services, but Levie said that the company is planning to weave AI into its products more widely.

In particular, he says, data classification and security are areas in which the company could implement machine learning in order to benefit customers.

“You take something that used to be an unstructured blob of data, that we didn’t really know what was inside of it,” he said. “Now we can structure it, we can better help our customers manage it, and security and governance.”

In future years, the company is also looking into the possibility of adding complex AI to Box Relay to predict things like which action a person should take next as part of a workflow based on contextual information.

“It’s one thing to streamline a business process and describe that business process and software – it’s a whole other thing if you can actually go and automate that business process predictively or intelligently using AI or machine learning. And that’s the holy grail, frankly, for the entire industry,” Levie added. 

“But it’s something that we’re going to be investing quite a bit in, over the three to five year period.”