Dropbox made what it describes as “the biggest user-facing change in the company’s history” last week, overhauling its platform to add new management and collaboration tools to its core file storage service. But Dropbox executives have played down any type of new focus on the enterprise market, saying the changes are instead a response to direct customer feedback.

The changes are based on direct feedback from customers flowing from dropbox’s newly established “customer advisory boards”, piloted by the company’s inaugural chief customer officer, Yamini Rangan.

In Sydney for the company’s local event, Dropbox Connect, Rangan told Which-50 the customer advisory boards are part of the file hosting company’s new “listening post” strategy. Dropbox seeks feedback from customers “across the board” but the advisory boards, which include the company’s most important and presumably largest customers, were a priority for Rangan.

Yamini Rangan, Chief Customer Officer, Dropbox. Supplied.

“This is for us to sit down with a set of our most important customers and create a space for them to really provide us candid feedback in terms of our product experience and also in terms of our customer experience.”

The first advisory board met in New York and included around 20 executives from Dropbox clients, offering feedback on both the product, its direction and their own experiences using it. That advice, particularly the gripes about the “fragmentation” of SaaS applications led to a product overhaul and the “New Dropbox”.

“We are delighted because now we’ve been able to not just listen to them, but put that as part of our product and company strategy in terms of the release that we announced last week,” Rangan said.

The feedback from Australian “listening posts” was essentially two main things, according to Rangan. Firstly, enterprise customers wanted greater customer support services and, broadly, Australian customers wanted files to be stored locally.

Rangan said the response has been a new “white glove” support service and a commitment to provide local storage in Australia.

The ‘New Dropbox’

For all customers, the New Dropbox platform pulls in external providers allowing users to share Google and Microsoft documents within the Dropbox app. It also integrates Slack, Atlassian and Zoom services, meaning users will not need to leave the app as much as in the past.

For business users, Rangan says the new platform will reduce complexity and fragmentation.

“Customers today have, in most environments, anywhere between one hundred and one thousand different tools that they’re using, if they are even a mid-sized company. So one of the biggest challenges from an IT perspective is really managing the fragmentation of the tools.

“And then from an end user perspective, it is the fragmentation of content.”

 

CIOs at the New York customer advisory board had equated that challenge to “herding cats”.

“It is like herding cats to get all of these tools in a place where it is actually delivering productivity to our users,” the Dropbox customer chief said.

“And so based on that, and the previous feedback that we had received from our customers, a lot of the product direction of bringing additional tools like zoom and Slack, deeply integrated into the product … came from those feedback sessions.”

Teams big and small

The new Dropbox appears to be a significant upgrade beyond the company’s traditional offerings, with more appeal for business users. Despite the new tools, Rangan told Which-50 it does not signal a move into the project management for Dropbox or a particular focus on the enterprise market.

Rather, she says, it is a response to an increasingly complex workplace where users typically toggle between 20 to 40 different applications. All the while, the storage, and structure of content have remained largely unchanged, according to Rangan.

“Where we attack the problem from is actually providing a modern place to bring all content, whether it’s a file in the cloud, or file in non-cloud, bringing all of the content together.

“And second, bringing the tools that we commonly used together, and then bringing the people that interact with the tools and the content together.”

Rangan declined to breakdown Dropbox’s target markets or ideal customers, saying the overall focus was on supporting teams big and small with a customer centricity focus

“Our focus and our vision is to create an enlightened way of work. And we want to do that for both small teams, as well as larger teams.

A local customer advisory board will also convene in Sydney today.

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