ORLANDO - At IBM Connect 2014 (January 26-30 Orlando, FL) INTRANET-Consulting demonstrated a new approach of its “Work 2.0” initiative.
sMail supports “living outside the inbox”. By using Natural Language Processing (NLP) it automates and simplifies eMail management and reduces time in searching and managing the Inbox.
Due to the large number of emails and messages we are confronted with every day, it is hard to focus on and/or find the information that is relevant for us. Therefore, a next generation email client has to do more than just display messages – it has to automatically analyze and evaluate the content of incoming messages and organize emails in a way that the user can instantly see which emails are important, without having to read them before.
For that reason we started the sMail project (semantic Mail), which is embedded in a R&D program with the University of Klagenfurt and Heidelberg. sMail is a social productivity tool that automates and simplifies email management and can act as a “pre-processor” to IBM Connections and other tools.
Contents from the mail inbox (or other platforms like IBM Connections, Facebook etc.) are preprocessed by a Linguistic Engine (LingRep©). The engine semantically classifies mails via text analysis and automatically recognizes priorities, timeframes and events, like for example answers/questions (mail, call, meeting), actions (create todo, create activity, update status…), reminders and so on.
The analysis results are managed in our XPages based sMail app, which uses a new bubble explorer for filtering and browsing through messages. In this explorer, bubbles represent different groups or classes of emails, based on the semantic analysis. That allows to easily access certain types of messages, for example messages where an answer is expected/required.
Follow-ups, todos, notes or discussions can be created from the selected mail with a one-click action - or I can share it with my network in IBM Connections or other selected social media channels. Bubble Explorer has a few more features, including user hashtagging, automatic newsletter recognition and full-text search.
Intranet Software & Consulting implemented IBM Domino Designer software, as well as IBMXWork Server software, an application server that employs XPages technology, to enable to conduct rapid custom-business and collaboration-application development projects for both the web and mobile platforms.
What customer problem(s) does your solution solve?
Over 150 billion email messages are currently being sent every day from about 3.5 billion email accounts worldwide. Professionals receive an average of 300 business emails a week and spend an average of 2 hours a day reading and responding to them.
There are two problems in that: On the one hand, sending an email is no longer a reliable way to get in touch with people with overfull inboxes because they frequently skip messages if they are not extremely urgent. On the other hand, a tremendous amount of time is wasted just to filter the relevant information out of the flood of messages the user receives (e.g. Newsletter or spam).
To circumvent these problems, sMail focuses on how to computationally evaluate messages and improve the organization and handling of your emails. Firstly, the semantic analysis allow to automatically classify and prioritize messages without the necessity of the user reading them. Consequently, the analysis results are used to highlight important messages in order to draw the user’s attention to them.
Additionally, the bubble explorer allows to easily navigate through the emails, or subclasses/subcategories of them. Due to these and multiple other features, sMail increases productivity by reducing the time users have to spend working through their inboxes.
What was the business case for this product or solution?
According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, as well as from the International Data Corporation, we spend 28% of our working time reading, writing and responding to emails. This is more time than for communicating and collaborating with our co-workers (14%) or searching and gathering information (19%). The only thing that takes more time is “role-specific tasks,” otherwise known as “doing our actual job.” (39%).
Benefits to customers:
Reduction of time searching and managing the inbox or social media channels by using semantic technologies and new ways of data visualization (Bubble Explorer).
Support “zero eMail” approach, by filtering, automated categorizing and re-routing mails into (internal) Social Media- or productivity Tools –> e.g. IBM Connections.
The productivity gain in communications must be seen in combination with using “social technologies” in the workplace (like IBM Connections) which could reduce email use by 25%. Estimated 30% of time spent on email could be “repurposed” by moving to collaboration platforms, freeing up 8 % for more productive activities. The use of sMail as a “pre-processor” should improve productivity by another 10% or more (pilot customer estimates). Exact numbers are not available yet.
The semantic web may have failed, but higher intelligence is coming to applications anyway, in another form: Cognition – it enables any apps to become more smart. They will be “cognitive apps.” You will be able to converse with cognitive apps, ask them questions, give them commands — and they will be able to help you complete tasks and manage your work more efficiently.
As a first step, sMail is using semantic text analyses for automated recognition of events, priorities and time frames — Answer (Mail, Call, Meeting), Action (create todo, update status, …), Reminder and so on.
A combination of content, semantic, and network analysis helps to organize these communication events and put them context. So if you are working on a customer engagement, the answer related to that may be something you want to show up in your contextual social stream or as a reminder in your calendar.
Content analytics allows you to capture Q&A exchanges and build a knowledge base so that when similar questions arrived in the future your computer should be able to proactively respond, at least in the first instance.
A variety of analyses help to organize, prioritize, put into context, and action (New todo, New note, New calendar entry, New reminder, …).
So what we really focus on is to improve how we analyze, organize, prioritize, and automatically react to our communication channels.
As big data, cloud computing, and vast increases in storage and processing take hold, the role of data visualization becomes much more common in our tools. Having created systems much more advanced than the human brain in these categories, we now must find improved ways of digesting all of this information.
With Bubble Explorer INTRANET Consulting has developed a complete new user interface for data visualization.
When you use email as often and as regularly as almost all of us do, you’ll find that your own set of organization starts to break down. You’ve got so much stuff in there, across a variety of folders, categories, flags, and the like, that it starts to make less sense, perhaps, to your visual mind.
Bubble Explorer visualizes your mail inbox (or other data from IBM Notes or Connections) as a bubble graph, making it easier to see patterns in your own data.
Communication events, mail domains, user hashtags, time frames etc. are all represented on the screen as colored bubbles, with larger bubbles representing more of the specific events, mail domains, hashtags, or date. The bigger a bubble, the more stuff in it. Tapping on a bubble will show you the data that are “contained” within it (drill-down) and brings up the associated Mails to the left side of the screen. It’s very clean, organic, and easy to use. Bubble Explorer gives everything in my system a fresh perspective.
From the action menu(s) you can simply create reminders, todos or notes from the selected mail or share it via IBM Connections, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other selected social media channels. Simple mail functions are available as well — reply or forward mails.
Bubble Explorer has a few more features, including user hashtagging, automatic newsletter recognition and full-text search.
Watch out this Video: