How Box took off at Toyota, where SharePoint is already used

toyota tamaraw

The Toyota Tamaraw, a vehicle from the 1970s that looks kind of like a box. Toyota. Box. Get it? 

Credit: John Lloyd via Flickr

Coexistence is going to be the norm as Box moves into the enterprise.

Yesterday, file collaboration company Box shared some good news, announcing Toyota North America as a customer. 

The company has actually been using Box for a couple years now, says IS technology manager Dave Statham, who drove the Box deployment. In 2012, a group of Toyota execs wanted to use their new iPads to share product plans and other information, instead of the three-inch binders they usually carried.

Toyota had two days to find a solution.

"The good news is the security guys had been already been studying different options and they recommended Box,' Statham told CITEworld. "We just needed a use case. It was one of those rare times from an IT perspective where we rolled something out and got no support calls."

The only call he got was from the head of the Lexus division -- he loved the product so much he wanted it for everybody in his sales organization. 

Since then, Toyota has scaled its usage from the initial 40 seats to more than 2,600, and has the option to roll it out to more than 10,000 people in the sales organization. Statham says that Box has really helped his group, which handles sales, communicate with the manufacturing division, especially as Toyota Motor Sales was planning a highly confidential headquarters move from Torrance in southern California to Plano, Texas. 

"It's been one of the good tools bridge the gap between the two companies coming in. As part of our planning effort, we had to keep it pretty confidential. We all used Box to set up work across company lines."

But hang on a second -- about two years ago, Microsoft made a lot of noise when Toyota signed a contract for Office 365. That product comes with various cloud-based collaboration solutions, including SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business (which are essentially the same offering for different sizes of business). So why didn't Toyota stick with those solutions?

Mainly because Toyota's IT department is opening up to a more user-driven strategy, and Box can offer an easier experience on mobile devices, as the company's initial experience with those iPads showed.

In general, if it's something mobile, Box has a pretty clean UI to set that up. Also, for project work and workflow, it's a great option for that," says Statham. 

"It's really an open coexistence strategy," he explains. "We have SharePoint sites all over the place, and we're not saying turn off SharePoint."

This coexistence is probably going to be the norm as Box tries to move into bigger enterprises. That's is worth keeping in mind as Box faces the financial challenges of a delayed IPO and an additional funding round with strict terms from investors. For Box to survive, it doesn't have to displace every other solution -- it just has to find a niche. Or a lot of niches in a lot of companies.

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