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Box AI Will Fundamentally Change Email

Updated: Apr 3, 2018

Recent announcements by Box, a leading cloud content management service, will result in the most significant transformation in Email since its inception nearly 50 years ago

Box’s recently announced move into AI, machine learning and sentiment analysis, opens the way for an unprecedented & unexpected evolution of the Internet’s main communication medium, namely, Email.

Zach in marketing is working on a campaign. A couple of weeks ago, Beth sent him an email with an image he needs. Zach doesn’t recall which email, of the hundreds he has received from Beth, but he remembers the image. He turns to his computer and asks,”Show me the attachment with the image of a man playing tennis in New Balance shoes.” A second later the exact image he is looking for is on his screen.

Eric is preparing a project plan for a large client. Janet on his team previously shared a valid point in an email to him the other day, but Eric couldn’t recall exactly what it was. He speaks into his mobile phone, “find me the email where Janet disagreed with me about the project’s requirements.” A couple of seconds later, the email is open for review.

In 2018, the possibilities of how we work within the email paradigm will begin to undergo a transformational and significant change. The technologies that allow you to ask your phone, “where is the nearest coffee shop”, will also allow you to navigate your emails. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, contextual search and sentiment analysis are coming to your messages and their attachments. The implications are huge for the 2.2 billion people globally who rely on email to get stuff done.

We know this transformation is about to occur because we at mxHero are front row witnesses to an accelerating trend and to these recent advances. More and more organizations are deploying modern cloud content services from companies, like Box. According to a recent study by Gartner, a leading research company, a whopping 80% of companies in developed markets will have deployed cloud content technologies by 2020 (Gartner, 2017). The benefits of moving to these platforms are significant for enterprise content. Organizations who fail to adopt these new technologies will be outpaced. Modern content platforms include exceptional security, augmented productivity, increased collaboration and reduced costs. If information is in fact the life blood of the modern organization, anything that can improve the flow and use of that critical content and information is a significant competitive advantage.

Although modern content technology is taking the business world by storm, there has been one critical omission to date. While these platforms have rapidly become the place for company content previously stored in file servers and laptops, the fact is that some 40% of a company’s enterprise content resides in another system, namely, email. Despite the fact that email and its associated attached content represents some of the most important, time-valued and sensitive information in the organization, unless it is moved into cloud content management platforms, it’s simply not offering organizations the competitive advantages they seek.

The omission and inherent opportunity of email content tied to a modern content strategy hasn’t gone unnoticed. MxHero has been working with organizations of all sizes, from small 3 person legal firms to enterprises with many thousands of employees, helping them to bridge the gap between email and new content collaboration technologies. Whether the benefits have been the ability to rapidly organize important email correspondence at Dolby Labs, or ensure that all email attachments are automatically converted to secure links at Box, companies are realizing that the benefits and Return on Investment (ROI) components of modern content platforms apply equally well for their emails.

As content platforms continue to add capabilities, the possibilities and benefits for email grow. Recent announcements by content providers define a near future in which your interaction with your data and content will be far different and far better than it has ever been. New offerings in 2018, showcased by Box at their annual San Francisco-based BoxWorks event in October ’17, will bring artificial intelligence to data stored in the cloud. These new capabilities include automatic image classification, natural language processing and sentiment analysis. When applied to email, these advances completely re-envision how we’ve been working with our email over the last several decades. Historical email searching has been a cumbersome process of pouring through chronological stacks of unrelated messages that often need to be painstakingly scrutinized, whether for their content or their attachments. This year, if your email is in Box, you will be able find attached messages, documents and images merely by describing them. Science fiction? Much less so than the idea of self-driving cars was several years ago.

So where is email headed? The death of email has been heralded many times, but at an annual growth rate of nearly 60M new users, losing its ranking as the single largest communication tool of the Internet doesn’t seem to be realistic in the foreseeable future. For all its faults, email is the inheritor of the letter, a lineage about as old as human written communication. However, the current email model was designed in the early 1970s and ill-equipped to meet today’s rocket fueled organizations where speed and access to data and content is critical. Fast forward nearly half a century, that model strains to adapt to a world overrun by information, state sponsored cyber espionage, and 24 hour broadband connectivity. So, let’s take a look into the future.

Email will evolve and not undergo a magical extinction event. It is our prediction that email will morph with the rapidly emerging content platform technologies. These technologies are purpose built for the secure, efficient and collaborative exchange of content — properties that squarely fulfill the mandate of email. By simply extending the definition of “content” to email, the stage is set for all of the organization’s content, whether documents, media or email to unite under a single information umbrella.

Access to email will become as fluid as a conversation, more secure and automatically integrated with other relevant content. When will this happen? You might feel, not soon enough, but rest assured, sooner than you think. :)


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