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Digital hands make smart work – Why AI is the ‘now’ of business

With machines on our side, we are more effective than ever and more tooled up to take bold steps. 

By James Nunns

The rise in AI is like the PC revolution of the 80s. It is the start of a seismic shift that could change everything about the way we currently value and use technology, particularly at work.

But with all the lustre of what machines will be able to do for us based on sci-fi, we’re in danger of straight-jacketing ourselves. We can’t define artificial intelligence as a ‘digital colleague’ alone. It will do more for us in augmenting the roles we have and creating

David Benjamin, VP and General Manager for EMEA at Box

new ones, than it will in replacing us with robots. In short, AI will be deeply integrated within businesses across the board. It will make our work not only smarter and faster, but crucially, more manageable.

Currently when we mention intelligence, especially within the enterprise, we think about teaching machines to help us automate the tasks we do every day. That’s a valuable asset within many industries. But not every task is uniform, and we need to create the type of intelligence that empowers us to be more creative, more innovative and more profitable – no matter what the request.

For a modern digitally enabled operating model, businesses and their employees need to be agile. This means working in an open and interoperable IT stack. Firms will have to combine legacy systems of record (like ERP products, which are about structure and linear business processes), and people-centric systems of engagement (which have more unstructured collaboration).

This is about a different way of operating and providing access to knowledge. It’s about removing the silos to information and redesigning organisational structure. With the constraints out of the way, positive change will take place and the smarter workplace will become a reality.


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Too much information?

At the heart of this is content. Businesses today have so much content that they don’t know how to use it to its full potential. The amount of lost opportunities should be unsettling, frustrating even. According to IDC, by 2020 we will create and copy 44 trillion gigabytes of data a year. The direction of traffic is one way – we’re only going to see more content in the future, so we need to know now how to get a handle of it.

In this context, when we say content, we mean the huge cache of various file types that businesses store. This could be anything from run-of-the-mill meeting minutes stored as text files, to flashy campaign videos. And increasingly, it’s all being stored on cloud platforms. Humans are incapable of indexing and sorting the volume of content to the degree that businesses will need in order to progress to new levels of profitability. Intelligence is the only workable solution for making sense of the data contained within the enterprise and using it to make informed decisions.


Finding context

Businesses already trust Box to look after their content but we’re now unveiling new innovations that enable them to do much more. Box Skills is a framework that brings AI capabilities to the content you store. For instance, images are the second most common file type in Box. We’re now using Image Intelligence to automatically contextualise pictures and detect objects, and recognise handwriting and text. The solution adds these insights as metadata and indexes them for search.

For audio and video, we can comb the content in a similar way and generate transcripts that are also indexed for search. Additionally, by leveraging technologies from the likes of Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and IBM Watson, developers can use the framework to build their own intelligence solutions that meet their specific business needs.


New processes

So, what can all this do for your business? Once you’re able to understand the content you have, you can better understand your people, the way they work – and find ways to improve. Intelligence can serve up trending documents without you having to search for them. It can also help discover insights that, although relevant, might have been missed if you didn’t have AI to assist you.

What’s more, you can chain together individual skills to solve complex business problems. For example, you could use transcribed audio recordings of customer support calls and then run a sentiment analysis on the transcripts to determine positive and negative sentiments throughout the call. This could in turn inform training resources, and chart the progress of how people are improving.

Artificial Intelligence adds a new level of proactivity to business. It empowers firms to rethink the processes they’ve used for years and reconsider newer, smarter ways of working. Yes, you’re able to remove the routine tasks that sap resources. But more than that, AI provides the smarts that enable companies to innovate and act on insights that were previously buried in the Dead Sea of data. With machines on our side, we are more effective than ever and more tooled up to take bold steps.

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