There’s untapped potential for transforming entire businesses using the insights and intelligence locked in files today. Aaron Levie and his company Box are on a mission to unleash that potential for their 74,000+ customers currently storing 30B+ files in the Box Cloud Content Management system. Box recently announced support for Google’s Cloud Vision APIs that have the ability to define, interpret and tag any image in their Cloud Content Management System today. For a detailed description of the Google Vision APIs, please see this site.
Aaron Levie and I had a chance to catch up this week on the Google Vision announcement and his views of how AI will revolutionize content management and enterprise software. The cornerstone of Box’s AI strategy is providing customers with greater insights and intelligence into the massive amount of unstructured content they upload daily. The goal is to digitize manual workflows, accelerate business processes and attain higher levels of efficiency and cost savings.
Box Sees Artificial Intelligence As The Foundation of Future Roadmaps and Growth
Box is concentrating on two major objectives this year. The first is innovating cloud content management with additional products and platform capabilities to help move enterprise workloads to the cloud. And second, advancing global go-to-market efforts so the company can reach more enterprises all around the world. Google Vision and future AI announcements support both of these goals.
With AI, the challenges of streamlining a diverse array of use cases that encompass compliance, customer engagement, supply chain optimization, maintenance, repair, service and many other areas become achievable. The more AI technologies enrich unstructured content and provide contextual relevance and insight, the faster any company’s system of record can scale on a cloud platform. Box is well-positioned to make this happen as they add AI applications and services.
Presented below is a recap of the ten questions we discussed:
- When image recognition has completed beta and is released, will this feature be available free of charge to all Box customers? All Box customers will be able to use the essential features of image recognition as part of their existing contracts and agreements while it is in beta. “We’re finalizing the specifics of additional services and features pricing for image recognition and will introduce the details before launch,“ Aaron said. Image recognition will become part of the Box platform with additional products, services, and subscriptions available for an additional charge.
- The growing complexity of compliance in healthcare including HIPAA, insurance, medical device manufacturing, pharmaceutical and other industries will benefit from automated image recognition. What are your plans in this area? The Cloud Content Management system has been compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) since 2015. Adding image recognition is going to streamline the classification and organizing of the millions of documents customers generate each year to stay in compliance. By automating the classification process, compliance workflows will be more efficient and accurate. “Compliance will eventually become entirely automated; it’s a perfect use case for AI,” Aaron said.
- In addition to Google Vision API, what other technologies are you evaluating today for inclusion on the Box roadmap? Box is continually tracking and staying on top of the fast pace of innovation occurring with AI-powered personal assistants including Apple Siri and others. Interspeech 2017 being held in Stockholm, Sweden next week is one of many events Box and other cloud companies will looking to gain additional insights and ideas from. Apple will be sharing papers at the event, and three of them are previewable on their Apple Machine Learning Journal site accessible here. Box envisions a future where AI powered personal assistants will be capable of simplifying and completing complex queries from any device, anytime. Tech giants including Baidu and Google spent between $20B to $30B on AI in 2016, with 90% of this spent on R&D and deployment, and 10% on AI acquisitions.
- On your latest earnings call you alluded to AI being the foundation of Box’s future product and services roadmaps with image recognition being just the start. Is your announcement of an AI-driven product and services roadmap accelerating or slowing down your sales pipeline? “Image recognition is a priority with our retail, media and entertainment, financial services and healthcare customers, and we see sales cycles accelerate as a result,” Aaron said. Another factor accelerating sales cycles is how customers will be able to enable Google Vision support for all future content they upload into Box’s Cloud Content Management system. Box has a platform architecture that can support API-based AI integrations with new technologies while legacy enterprise content management (ECM) systems don’t. Displacing these legacy systems will become more commonplace as cloud-based ECM platforms proliferate, offering businesses intelligent AI-based systems at a lower cost.
- What about the advanced AI areas of self-learning systems that could suggest the best taxonomies for data, multilingual image interpretation of audio, images, and video and Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms that could create knowledge graphs in real-time? Box continues to get requests from customers globally for broader multilingual support, and it’s an area they are addressing in their product planning and roadmaps. Localization support for image classification in the Vision APIs would further revolutionize enterprise software in general and ECM specifically. Mr. Levie sees NLP as indispensable to the future of Box fulfilling the vision of providing customers with greater insights and intelligence into the massive amount of unstructured content they upload daily. “NLP is going to bring an entirely new dimension of contextual knowledge to the unstructured data our customers trust us with daily,“ he said. NLP will also make it possible to create accurate, real-time knowledge graphs of an enterprises’ system of record, enabling customers to make more informed decisions that can drive future growth.