May 2, 2023 - Technology

Box adds AI feature to let people ask questions of their documents


Box CEO Aaron Levie. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

After years of letting users store and share online documents, Box is adding a feature that allows customers to use AI to ask questions based on the contents of those files.

Why it matters: CEO Aaron Levie tells Axios that AI represents the biggest opportunity yet for the company to expand beyond its roots as a provider of storage.

How it works: The initial implementation of Box AI allows customers to query a particular document stored on Box.

  • Customers will be able to not only use AI to summarize and translate content, but also to ask detailed questions of the data, such as identifying the riskiest element of a marketing campaign or determining whether a specific action would violate a particular contract.
  • Box is also adding a tool to Box Notes that acts as an assistant for those composing new documents.
  • Box AI uses the broad power of OpenAI's engine (GPT-3.5 and GPT-4) but generates answers using only information from a particular document stored on Box. Documents aren't stored by OpenAI and no data is used to train OpenAI's algorithms.
  • The company is using OpenAI's technology to power the initial features, but expects to add other companies' AI engines over time. "There’s going to be a value in mixing different AI models," Box CEO Aaron Levie told Axios.
  • The two features are in a limited partner preview, with Box aiming to sign up tens or hundreds of customers to test the capabilities over the coming months.

Between the lines: Box isn't revealing the eventual cost of its AI features, though Levie said the goal is to include as many capabilities as possible in its existing subscription tiers, while recognizing it may have to charge more for heavy uses. "We’re still working through the pricing," he said.

  • Microsoft has said it expects to charge Office users an additional monthly fee for its AI-powered copilots, much as it already does for coding assistant GitHub Copilot, which ranges from $10 to $19 per user per month.

What's next: Longer term, Box aims to allow customers to query across a range of documents. Levie said that's the "holy grail" but adds the company has nothing to announce on that front yet.

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