I have been posting various things the past week about collaboration tools and one service that is worthy of another look is Box.net. Originally, the site got started as an online storage repository similar to the dozens of other places. But through a strategy to proliferate their programming interfaces and making key deals with technology and Web 2.0 companies, it really has become this Swiss Army Knife of integrated Web services that they call OpenBox.
For example, how many times have you gotten a call when on the road for you to fax a document to someone? You maybe are in your hotel room, and if you are lucky you can print the document out and then fax it. How about if you keep a collection of updated documents on your box.net storage and then just send it via eFax? That is pretty cool. eFax, for those of you that aren't aware of this service, assigns a real fax number to your email address, so that people can send you faxes wherever you might be. The service they perfected with Box does outbound documents, too.
How about being able to automatically post files to your blog? Box has routines that will work with Wordpress, Blogger and Livejournal blogging software. There are other services that will send files directly from within Outlook and Gmail too, so you can avoid the time it takes to attach them to your message. Again, it is a small thing, but if you are on the road or at a place with poor connectivity and don't want to wait hours to do an upload of a huge file (or can't upload a huge file because of spam restrictions), this can be a real productivity boost.
You can also have digital images that you have stored on Box printed and mailed using the Enthusem or Zazzle services. And if you need them printed out, you can send the files directly to any Kinko's printer to be picked up later on. That is a great idea, and given the cost of carryon luggage, it might even save you some money in baggage handling if you can get your printed materials at your destination without having to drag them through the airports. You can also upload then edit spreadsheets directly with EditGrid without any additional software, convert your audio files to speech with iSpeech, and use WatchDox to control who can access, view, or print your shared documents. You can have access to your Box files through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, too.
If you spend a lot of time on the road, then check into some of these advanced features that Box offers and see if you agree that it is a productivity boon. It isn't the same old online storage service anymore.