Box CFO: Progressly Purchase to Help ‘Accelerate’ Workflow Offerings

Box’s recent acquisition of Redwood City, California startup Progressly was designed to help “accelerate” the company’s automated workflow solutions, according to Dylan Smith, Box CFO and co-founder.

The purchase is part of an area that Box executives have talked about in the past as being “pretty core” to the company, “especially as we continue to go deeper and deeper in content management — and that’s in the space of workflow,” or what the company refers to more broadly as “intelligent business process,” he said June 5 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference in San Francisco.

The addition of Progressly and its staff will boost Box’s workflow team and help it accelerate “all the things we’re doing” on workflows, he said, adding: “Not just around some of the things like the automation of different workflows, which is pretty consistent with the strategy that we laid out and how we’ve been thinking about the space broadly with respect to our relationship with IBM and the Box Relay product that became generally available Q4 of last year. But also, with a lot of the relationships that we have and partnerships we built out with players” including Pega.

In addition to helping Box find “more and easier ways to build these workflows [and] automate a lot of the repetitive tasks that are going on inside of organizations,” the Progressly acquisition will also “provide a lot more kind of real-time insight into what’s going on as content moves throughout an organization as workflows continue to be built,” he said.
That was “really the sort of push behind the acquisition,” he told the conference.

Progressly provides Box with a “really strong team” with “a vision that was pretty consistent with how we were seeing kind of the problems and opportunities in enterprises and thought that would be just a really, really compelling area of continued investment for our customers,” he said.

Box disclosed the Progressly purchase in a June 1 blog post by Jeetu Patel, Box chief product officer and chief strategy officer.

Asked about Box’s plans for acquisitions going forward, Smith said we can expect the company to continue to focus on “some of the core categories of innovation that we’re going after.” Workflow continues to be one of those core categories it’s focused on, including “a lot of the things around metadata, around artificial intelligence and machine learning – and just how” Box can “build more and more insight and intelligence into” its products through the “set of capabilities we’re looking to build out, as well as continuing to build on the differentiation that we’re really known for around security and compliance,” he explained.

So, when Box considers what company might make sense to purchase, it’s looking at “where we can bring in technology or extremely talented teams to lead those efforts is where we’re going to be disproportionately focused,” he said.

Box, meanwhile continues to expect it will achieve a $1 billion revenue run rate target by the end of fiscal 2021, he said.

Asked by an analyst what he expects the key products to drive that expansion will be, he said that, in terms of existing Box products, Governance and Platform are “on a pretty nice trajectory” and “we have seen a lot of progress with Box Zones as well, especially for international/multi-national companies.” Of the latter, he pointed out that all of the six-figure transactions in the Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA) region in its most recent quarter “had Zones attached.”

On the other hand, “from an overall sort of impact on the market, the differentiation and potentially the top line, we are definitely pretty excited about Box Skills and the opportunity around artificial intelligence/machine learning,” he said, referring to Box’s AI framework.

Box Skills demand “has been strong as we have hundreds of customers signed up for the beta,” Aaron Levie, company CEO and chairman pointed out on the company’s recent earnings call, adding the company is also in a private beta for Box Skills kits that enable third parties and Box customers to develop their own custom skills to power specific business processes.

Box Skills were introduced at the company’s BoxWorks 2017 conference.

“We also expect to introduce one to two additional products per year over this time frame as well,” Smith said June 5, adding: “So, the products that we’d be bringing to market over the next year or so we think can also help contribute to what we look like at $1 billion.”