About a year ago I read a guest editorial written by the CEO of Box.net. At the time it connected with me. It really echoed the way I felt about Enterprise IT. So I decided to implement it in my organization.
Understand that I love startups but I have a responsibility to my agency. I don’t deploy startup technology. I’ll mess around with it in my spare time but I don’t put untested companies into production. So doing this with Box was a big exception for me.
And I lived to regret it.
It hasn’t been all bad. I still like and believe in the technology. But implementing Box Sync has largely been a disaster. To the point where I had to backtrack and start pulling people off Box and putting them back on Sharepoint. So I view this announcement with trepid excitement…
Box.net had previously offered a Sync desktop client, which allowed users to sync Box.net folders with their PC desktops. But Box has totally rebuilt the sync engine and is debuting a new version of Box Sync for Windows and the first-ever Box Sync for Mac. This allows users to access Box files from their desktop, work offline in native applications, sync edits back to Box, and access synced content from any mobile device. Customers including Turner Construction, TaylorMade, Pandora and LinkedIn are early users of Box Sync.
Box Sync for Windows and Box Sync for Mac will available as free downloadable desktop clients for Business and Enterprise customers in October. Additionally, Box and HP has announced that they’re working together to distribute Box Sync on future PCs to HP’s business customers later in 2011.
Again let me stress this: I’m not a disgruntled customer. 20% of my users are on Box Sync and I’m fighting to make it work. I believe in the technology. So much so that I’ve written scripts and even a full fledged .Net Tray Application to compensate for its weaknesses.
But having said that there’s no doubt implementing Box .Net is one of the worst decision I’ve made in my career. I mean, I’ve had conflicts in my professional life that have threatened my job. But putting people on Box is the only decision that’s ever made me feel like I deserved to be fired.
Yet I push on with it.
Which is the point of this post. I’m very much split down the middle on Box and startup technology in general. I wish I hadn’t implemented it but if given the same choice tomorrow I’d probably do it again. Because I love what the technology can do. I love the potential. I love the thought of what I could do for the users on Box. But thus far implementing the technology has clearly been a negative. This very morning I lost 2 more hours of employee time dealing with something that would have never happened under Sharepoint (in fact it wouldn’t have happened in Windows peer-to-peer networking)
But that’s how it is with startup technology. Believing in the future means making sacrifices. It means pushing forward with technology because you know it will be worth it someday. It’s a future play. But it’s hard. If you care about your users at all it’s very, very hard to have inconvenienced them today for features they may someday love. But I do believe they’ll someday love it.
So while I regret implementing Box right now I don’t think that will be the case in 3 years (or at least that’s my hope)
Addendum: Oh and they’ve raised another $50 million dollars. That can’t be bad.