Dropbox is hoping to translate its runaway success in the consumer cloud storage and collaboration market to the business arena because so many people already use its product.
Around 400 million people currently use Dropbox, saving one billion files each day with the service. This huge consumer use is turning into business uptake, and 150,000 customers are now signed up, 50,000 of which joined in the past 10 months.
Thomas Hansen, global vice president of sales at Dropbox and formerly of Microsoft, told V3 that he believes the consumer success of Dropbox is helping the company convince businesses to adopt it as an enterprise tool.
“People already know how to use Dropbox because they’re using it in their own lives, and often then bringing it to the business as well,” he said, noting that this is now influencing how IT leaders make buying decisions.
“I think CIOs are being far more progressive in their decisions. They are not hostile to shadow IT any more, and want to support users to help them get the job done.
“So a CIO can go to users and say: ‘We are now supporting you from central IT on Dropbox’ and become an IT hero, rather than someone trying to police the users.”
Hansen cited the example of Expedia as a company that came to Dropbox Business in this way, as staff were using Dropbox, instead of a corporate-supplied OneDrive service from Microsoft as part of an Office 365 deployment.
“We started some discussions with their CIO just a few months ago and we showed him that close to his entire workforce was already on Dropbox, but in a private capacity,” said Hansen.
“So we had a discussion in terms of functionality and security and how getting Dropbox into the IT department would help, and we ended up signing a 10,000-user deal with them.”
Hansen explained that the firm sees this as a great way to improve business uptake, as firms migrating from staff using Dropbox under their own steam to Dropbox Business will guarantee that staff actually use the tool.
“There are not many tech companies that have effectively cracked this code. I would put the case that Dropbox is one of the few that has done it successfully from consumer into business,” he said.
One other notable consumer giant that is using its widespread uptake to entice business customers is Facebook, which recently announced a huge deal with RBS for the Facebook for Work product.
Overseas data storage
Another area where Dropbox is looking to meet the growing requirements of business users is data protection. Hansen said that the company will offer the ability for customers to store data in the EU from next year.
“We are committed to deploying data infrastructure in Europe in 2016,” he added.
Hansen was coy when asked by V3 whether this would mean Dropbox having its own data centre in the region, but said that more information on the plans would be made public next year.
“[Customer] data will be stored in Europe,” he confirmed.
However, the fact that Dropbox is to offer EU-based data storage underlines the growing push by cloud vendors to offer this capability, as witnessed by similar announcements from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Box.
Hansen also said that offering this would ensure that the speed of the Dropbox service remained “lightning quick” for consumer and business users by having data closer to their location.
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