Dropbox has launched a ‘badge' cloud collaboration tool for business users, alongside a preview 'comments' feature, marking the latest stage in its enterprise growth plans.
Dropbox product manager Matt Holden announced the cloud tools during an interview with V3.
The badge feature (shown in the picture below) was demoed to early access customers in December, and is designed to let users more easily and productively collaborate inside Microsoft Office documents.
On Windows, the feature is compatible with Word, PowerPoint and Excel files in Office 2007, 2010, and 2013. For Mac, it supports Office 2011 files.
The feature lets users see who is editing the file, check for more recent versions, and generate links to share documents.
The early access version of badges was designed to let Dropbox for Business users test and give feedback on the feature before its full release.
Holden said the feedback helped to shape the design of the final version, which is be suitable for mixed office environments of all sizes.
"Dropbox badge is something we've been developing for a while. Some 10,000 customers are already using it and today we're launching it to the rest," he said.
"[It means that now] if you save something in Dropbox a small blue badge will appear on it, without having to do anything the badge sits next to your window [and] with it you can see who is editing or viewing files and better collaborate.
"It's about letting you use the tool you want. We've taken the technical details out of the picture so you can just grab a link and share it with a colleague when you want to collaborate."
The launch follows reports that the ongoing consumerisation of IT is creating dangerous 'shadow IT' areas in many businesses.
University of Surrey Computer Science professor Alan Woodward warned that shadow IT is putting company systems at risk, during an interview with V3 in February.
Dropbox for Business also unveiled a demo "comments" feature alongside the launch of badges.
The comments feature will be made available to trial from 24 March and is designed to let collaborators leave feedback on shared documents in Dropbox.com simply by writing an ‘@' sign, followed by the contact's email address. The collaborators are then sent email and mobile notifications including the comment.
The service will initially be available for Windows and iOS Dropbox users, though the firm confirmed it is working on an Android version.
Dropbox has over 120 million users in Europe and claims more than 100,000 organisations have adopted Dropbox for Business. In the UK these include taxi service Hailo, design studio Pipers and the Royal Institution.
Dropbox did not give an exact figure for its UK business users but said the number of "teams" using Dropbox for Business doubled in the UK in 2014.
Dropbox is one of many cloud firms to view the UK as a key growth market. Competitor Box similarly listed the UK as a growth sector, when it launched a beta Enterprise Key Management (EKM) encryption service in February.
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