From today Australian Dropbox customers will have the option to store files locally within the company’s Amazon Web Services Sydney environment. The announcement, made in Sydney today, comes just a week after the company’s biggest user-facing changes to date.

“Australia is important to us, both from a business standpoint, but [also] because we have a user base here that was innovative and curious and helps us evolve and guide the product,” said Dropbox chief technology officer, Quentin Clark, at the company’s Australian conference, Dropbox Connect.

The company committed to local hosting in March, responding to direct requests from customers for a data sovereignty option. It said Australian hosting has been in beta testing with select customers for several months and today’s general launch is ahead of schedule.

Founded by MIT university students in 2007, reportedly as an alternative to carrying USB sticks to class, the company has grown to a $US9.6 billion dollar company with 13 million paying users and 400,000 Dropbox Business Teams. Locally Dropbox customers include The University of Sydney, Bauer Media Group, Lonely Planet and Airtasker. More than half of the company’s revenue now comes from outside the U.S, according to the Dropbox.

The New Dropbox

Last week, the company unveiled the “New Dropbox”, its biggest overhaul to date, adding new management, administration and collaboration tools to the desktop application along with new integration with Zoom for meetings, Slack for communication and Atlassian for content management.

Clark explained to customers in Sydney today the idea is to weave best of breed SaaS solutions into the Dropbox application, reducing fragmentation and the need to switch to other apps.

“Today, more than ever, end users are facing a cacophony of different tools and products and services to use and new inboxes. And this leads to fragmentation … We saw this opportunity and a bit of a responsibility to be at the forefront of helping weave it all back together.”

A demo of the new platform showed a UI and capabilities similar to existing content and project management SaaS applications, suggesting a new direction for a company which has traditionally focused on file hosting.

Listening posts

The new services are part of Dropbox’s ongoing effort to provide a “frictionless experience” said Dropbox chief customer officer, Yamini Rangan.

“[Dropbox] just works. It works, it’s easy to use, and for the most part we actually don’t need to train our end users. The adoption and expansion of Dropbox is pretty easy,” Rangan said.

But behind the scenes, Rangan says, there is a lot of work going on to deliver that simplicity and reliability. She explained to deliver a frictionless experience Dropbox focuses on value, interoperable, ubiquity, and support. Rangan, who is the company’s first chief customer officer, has established a “listening post” strategy, in an attempt to close feedback loops between customers and product owners within Dropbox.

“So when we talk to customers, frictionless experience is across these four dimensions, and this is exactly what we are committed to doing as an organisation.”

Dropbox has set up customer advisory boards for its “most important” customers, convened annually in certain regions including one in Sydney today for ANZ customers.

“We’re doing the same thing in Tokyo later this week,”  Rangan said.

“But we [also] listened through social media, we listened to support conversations, we listened to our partners, we listened to our frontline employees that spend every part of their day talking to our customers. And so these listening posts are exceptionally important for us to be a customer centric organisation.”

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