How Box is replacing SharePoint and custom software at Scripps Networks

Credit: www.scrippsnetworksinteractive.com

At Scripps Networks, adopting Box has the chance to become much more than a convenient way to share files.

Last year, Scripps, the content creator for brands like HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network, and others, had workers using a variety of services to share large files. On their own, they had started using Dropbox, Sendmail, and a host of other products designed for ease of sharing on mobile devices, said Chuck Hurst, vice president of media and content distribution for Scripps.

Then two things happened: iOS devices began proliferating at Scripps, driving demand for a common platform across users and devices. And Scripps acquired a company in San Francisco.

See also: As Box grows, it struggles to stay true to its roots

“They were all on Dropbox and said ‘we’re not going to give it up unless you give us an alternative’,” Hurst said. “We were looking for ways for people to share files quickly and securely in a way our legal group was comfortable with from a security aspect. That’s what led us to Box.”

Now, people throughout the company “use it for exchanging everything,” he said. “I use it the way I used to use SharePoint.”

Box ended up solving an additional problem for Scripps: Filling a hole that SharePoint left for Mac users. SharePoint isn’t very Mac friendly, Hurst said, which became an issue for the 35 percent of Scripps workers who are on Macs.

That same issue was the reason that Scripps didn’t choose SkyDrive instead of Box. “The consumer version [of SkyDrive] wasn’t in play at all,” he said. Like SharePoint, he found that the professional version of SkyDrive didn’t work well with Mac users.

Getting started

Scripps started out late last year with a pilot of 300 people on Box, beginning with the groups that had been most vocal about needing a sharing solution. When that went well, it added another 700 licenses.

The company’s creative services group uses Box to interact with outside agencies or production companies. They exchange MP4s – not production video – and still images, with files sizes around 30 MB each, via Box. To move production video, the company uses Aspero, file transfer software designed for very large files.

In addition, Scripps’ sales group travels with iPads and they store video clips and presentations in Box to display while visiting customers. Companywide, Scripps probably has around 1 TB of data stored with Box, Hurst said.

His group has been pleased that Box takes some work off its shoulders. “In a good deal of [Scripps] work, we’re dealing with external production agencies, so we’re constantly sharing things outside the company,” he said. “[Box] is an effective tool that gets IT out of the middle of that sharing. We’re not setting up FTP connections or Sharepoint sites. We give admin privileges and they set up their own folder structures.”

The future looks bright

Still, it’s the future that has Hurst most excited. He envisions using Box in much broader ways. “We’re just scratching the surface right now on using Box more at the API level and starting to build apps in Box,” he said.

Currently, Scripps has a custom-developed process for gathering certain deliverables like closed caption files and still imagery from production companies. “We have a heavy weight process and portal for gathering that,” he said. “With the right features and work flow, we could do that from within the Box structure.”

The system would need to be able to do things like segregate content by type and aggregate meta data. Scripps is waiting on future Box API releases before it will be able to build those kinds of features into a new, Box-based work flow system.  

Hurst is waiting on a couple of other updates from Box as well. He would like to see some better administration features. “If you have to move a root level folder and change permissions, it’s fairly painful right now,” he said.

He also hopes for improvements in search so that users can more easily find files that are deeply nested in a folder structure.

He’s looking forward to one additional forthcoming update, just announced today, that will enable directed work flows within folders. That will let users set up business rules so that when a specified item drops into a folder, the file is pushed out to designated people.  

In the meantime, the California acquisition has been migrated to Box without too much trouble, he said. The “ingest” issue took some work but otherwise “they just needed to be convinced that Box had the features they need,” he said.

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