Today's mobile- and cloud-enabled business software ecosystem is making getting work done on a smartphone or tablet a reality for on-the-go small business owners. That is, until they venture into tunnels, remote stretches of road or board a flight lacking Wi-Fi service.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications unhelpfully ask users to try again later. Files wind up stashed out of reach on cloud storage services.
Dropbox's new Mobile Offline Folders feature, available in the paid Pro, Business and Enterprise plans, can help business users with the latter. Users now have the option of marking entire folders offline, ensuring that any file dropped into those folders are automatically downloaded to their devices.
No longer do users have to hurriedly download individual files before catching the last train or descending into the subway for an off-site meeting. In one fell swoop, they can carry their in-progress presentations, proposals and other important business documents with them and pick up where they left off when their smartphones and tablets are afflicted by a lack of network connectivity.
Dropbox for the Deskless Set
Not all business is conducted behind a desk or in the confines of a cozy office.
"This feature will be help drive productivity for all of our users, but especially for small businesses with travel and field services that want an efficient, accurate way to disseminate the latest business-critical content to their mobile-enabled field teams," Vinod Valloppillil, product manager at Dropbox Pro told Small Business Computing.
Jobs requiring travel often run the risk of a connection drop-off, or worse, a jaunt into a dead zone.
"Employees at these businesses often find themselves 'off the grid' while doing their work, and need to access their content anytime, anywhere," Valloppillil said. "This feature will help them to do that."
Mobile Offline Folders was inspired by the Dropbox user community, he added.
"We uniquely harvest feedback from our users across multiple channels, including customer support, sales, resellers and more," said Valloppillil. "This feature, for example, was a particularly high priority amongst our 200,000 business users, which was a big reason why we moved forward with developing it."
Getting Down to Business
There are reasons besides the new Mobile Offline Folders feature for users to step up to the company's business offerings.
After its launch in 2008, Dropbox surged in popularity, due in part, to its free cloud storage accounts. They offer enough capacity (2 GB) to satisfy the occasional user's basic file synch and sharing needs. It comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and users who take their business information seriously want more.
"We have over 500 million users and we realize that many of them have different needs, which is why we have different SKUs [stock keeping units] with different price points and features," Valloppillil said. "Dropbox Pro provides enhanced sharing features, greater control over content and 1 TB of space to keep personal files safe and easy to share. Dropbox Business offers additional features for collaboration and more control for administrators who are working with larger teams, including granular permissions, system alerts and HIPPA compliance."
As part of the company's ongoing AdminX initiative, last month the company announced new tools that enhance security for Business and Enterprise customers. New controls help businesses place limits on the number of synced devices and set team-only sharing restrictions on the Dropbox Paper team-collaboration tool.
Mobile Offline Folders is available to Dropbox Pro and Business customers using the latest Android app. The feature is rolling out to the Apple iOS app for iPhones and iPads early next year.