Will workers be wooed by Dropbox collaboration tools?

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While the scan and search mobile tool generated the most buzz, Dropbox’s newly formed industry partnerships may be the biggest draw for enterprise customers, the analysts I spoke with said.

Several of the new features announced this week, for instance, will require Dropbox to work closely with Microsoft, one of its biggest rivals in the document storage market. These include a plus button that lets users create new Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel documents on their phones, and the ability to import scanned documents into those newly created Office files.

This “coopetition” with rivals is par for the course to staying competitive these days, McKinnon said. This is especially the case with Dropbox’s alliance with Microsoft, whose Office suite still rules in the workplace. Dropbox also stands to benefit from its partnership with Slack, an emerging business communication tool popular in the tech community, she said.

“[Slack] is not really good at handling files and documents, and that’s where Dropbox can bring some value: that controlled, secured, version control ability to handle files, is much better than Slack [or] in any kind of push chat system or messaging system,” McKinnon said.

The partnerships are enabled through Dropbox’s API structure, a capability the company has been building on for a long time, McKinnon said. Whereas before, its APIs allowed users to add external tools to Dropbox (for example, Lockbox for client-side encryption, and backup service Backupify), now the company’s APIs also offer business users uniformity — consistent storage, security, file access and folder structure for a wide variety of popular business apps.

“Whether it’s Slack tomorrow or Salesforce the next day, it just means that [Dropbox] can be that consistent content store that a lot of organizations can rely upon,” she added.

Whether the company’s push to be more enterprise collaboration-ready proves successful is an open question. Dropbox is striving to find its place in a crowded document storage services market, and big enterprise vendors like Google, Microsoft and IBM don’t make it easy, said Alan Lepofsky, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research. Building a large partner ecosystem, coupled with more industry specialization, could be its best bet.

“Continuing the focus on [partnerships] and continuing to focus on specific industry verticals — the healthcares, finances and medicals of the world — and building specific applications using their new capture technology, like medical expense reports, financial documentation and legal capture … is something that will serve them well,” Lepofsky said.