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Enabling Communications Intelligence When the World Needs It Most

Meeting Real Needs From the Beginning

The past 20 years’ journey is one that I could not have imagined, and no one could have predicted. When I started Digital Reasoning, it was about making software that could learn so that the investment humans made with software would improve with use. The area that divided humans from machines was the richness of language and human communication. That was beyond the representational grasp or computation capacities of technology at the turn of this century. It was inevitable that someone would bridge man and machine in the area of understanding communications, and I wanted it to be done for good.

We created algorithms that understood the similarities and differences in words and names at scale through unsupervised learning. We did this nearly a decade ahead of it being popularized by Google and others. We did it to find threats before they happened instead of when it was too late. We were part of the calling after 9/11 to protect lives and make sure nothing like that ever happened again.

Our innovation and success in supporting National Defense opened doors for us in many places. The venture capital arm of the U.S. Intelligence Community, In-Q-Tel, invested in Digital Reasoning, which gave validation to the broader venture capital world. Our venture investors enabled the expansion into new industries and applications. Soon, we were thrown into the mission of protecting our markets after the manipulation and corruption of the 2008 Financial Crisis became clear. Once again, Digital Reasoning was charged to be part of “never letting that happen again.” Less than a decade after we started in the Financial Services industry, we process more communications in the banking world with NLP and AI than any other vendor globally – and it’s not even a close contest. Over the last seven years, many of the world’s largest banks and financial services leaders would become shareholders in Digital Reasoning, including Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, Nasdaq, Credit Suisse, Barclays, Macquarie, and Standard Chartered. We now protect the markets and customers from abuse with some of the most advanced technology in the world.

And we did not stop there. We carried the mission forward by partnering with HCA Healthcare to better identify cancer in sick patients. We now process and help identify cancer in more than 1 out of every ten cancer patients in the U.S. Our most recent production success is on pace to find four times the amount of cancer in patients in its first two weeks as they did last year.

And lastly, but first in our hearts, we found a partner in Thorn that gave us the most remarkable challenge – to prevent and rescue children from sex trafficking. We used Digital Reasoning technology to revolutionize the identification and rescue of at-risk children. Over 14,000 children later, the legacy of our work together with Thorn has changed many, many lives.

That is what we’ve done. And it’s what we do that defines us.

Underneath it all is a desire to see the best in people, and the courage to confront the worst. To use technology to confront those things and, in some cases, those people that would harm others or abuse their power. We harness the power of technology – the magic of the machine – to protect others and improve the quality of their work. You see, sometimes, when people are at their worst, the machine is actually the memory of when we were at our best. If we design it right, teach it thoughtfully and ethically, it can protect us from the worst excesses of human nature.

The machine is not an agent with its own will, it is an echo of its creators. And that is why mission is so crucial in a company building AI. For without mission focus, this awesome tool of the 21st century will be used for the maximizing of selfish ends and the aggregation of power. We need to stand against that – in our words, in our efforts, in what we build, and in how we treat each other. And that is why our mission is to Protect the Things that Matter.

Monitoring Remote Work is the Critical Need Requiring Communications Intelligence

In this new world of remote work, with an explosion of new channels and an unending increase in data volume, there has never been a greater need to understand digital communications nor a solution that could be more valuable. Simply put, more communication means there is more to review, analyze, and understand.

As we all know and live with every day, remote work has gone from some elective tools that were limited in use and mostly unmonitored to being the essential glue to keep us working and collaborating during the pandemic. Moreover, these tools’ success means that it is unlikely that we will go back to the mostly in-office work we knew before, and that some substantial amount of remote work will likely continue as the “new normal.”

Our communications are now the fabric, the nerve-system, of the new corporate body. Gone is the office, and come is the digital. And even when our world goes from the current reaction to a better normal, the fruits and risks of this new way of working are not going away. The future comes upon us today — five years of trajectory accelerated into reality over the past eight months.

Due to this, the volume of data to monitor and remember for the enterprise is likely to go up massively. It will be like having a brain that must remember most of what all employees are doing in their work on a given day. In an age of unlimited chatter, the world needs to remember, understand, and act upon all of its various communications data; within that data are both real risks and enormous opportunities for companies, their customers, and their employees. To achieve this, enterprises will need a new essential virtual infrastructure.

The Essential Virtual Infrastructure for Running the Modern Enterprise

A guardian and protector of this new essential infrastructure are needed. Guarding against risk, guarding against the unnecessary or unintended offense, and turning these new flows into valuable and enriched sources of insights and automation.

The financial services industry leaders have gone on a journey from simply managing digital data to applying cloud technology and reasoning on it to meet the requirements of regulators and begin to unlock its value. We believe the age of basic experimentation is coming to an end.

Smarsh and Digital Reasoning, as market leaders in their respective fields, have delivered continued innovation to production and can deliver a communications intelligence capability to the enterprise.

It’s time to unlock the productivity and insights in digital communications and put the proven value of Communications Intelligence to work. If we don’t, the deluge of new data and unknown risks will either lead to another wave of new costs or another wave of missed risks that damage companies’ reputations and operating freedom – particularly in Financial Services.

A well run, distributed, modern enterprise is going to have unparalleled awareness of risk and opportunities; it won’t be surprised because it understands human communication like a giant, digital brain, listening and responding in a way that advances both the culture, values, and the objectives of the enterprise. 

Together with Smarsh, I am pleased to say that we can be that guardian and protector. We can intercept those risks before they happen by understanding the earliest signals. The combined company creates a complete solution to the essential challenges around understanding human communication and brings the only complete AI solution for monitoring remote work and joining it with all other digital channels to create a 360-degree view of risks and insights for the enterprise. Over the next three years, I believe that every major organization will have an enterprise-wide Communications Intelligence strategy – from Banks to Agencies to Hospitals. We won’t know how we did business without it. 

Digital Reasoning and Smarsh will define and lead this category because that is what we do- innovate and deliver. And we will do it in a way that leaves the world a lot better than we found it because that is what drives both of our teams. Finding truth with technology and using it to protect the things that matter.

Written By
Jason Beck