Like every business, we have the need to continually invest in our business processes in order to scale, to grow efficiently, and to allow our people to be as productive as possible, which means enabling them to focus on their highest value work. From processes that are time consuming to mismanagement of resources, breakdowns in the system always arise. How businesses address them is the differentiator. Each time I\u2019m faced with an optimization problem, I ask myself the same question I presume most CIOs do: can we automate and digitize?\n\nNow, that same question has a newer subtext: can we automate\/digitize it with\u00a0artificial intelligence? For a long time, the promise of AI\u00a0has been in the future and not\u00a0the\u00a0present. But\u00a0over\u00a0the last year\u00a0or so that has\u00a0changed. The\u00a0sophistication of algorithms \u2013 resulting from the\u00a0massive\u00a0quantity of ingested unstructured\u00a0content \u2013 has made it possible for machine learning (ML) engines to provide\u00a0automation through digital labor and\u00a0to give instant, quantifiable value back\u00a0to business processes.\u00a0\n\nWhen answering the question \u201ccan I digitize it, and should I consider AI\u201d there are four key areas I consider:\n\nFinding diamonds in the data \n\nAs CIOs, we are tasked with finding opportunities to modernize and optimize our business processes through enabling technologies. With the reduced cost of storing information in the cloud, it\u2019s now easier than ever to track and store almost any data point. I\u2019m not advocating collecting data aimlessly but rather, the more data you have, the easier it is to identify patterns and issues where an AI solution could be useful.\n\nRevealing an inefficiency ripe for automation\n\nOne area we took this approach was with how to enable a modern business process for Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM). When we discovered that the CLM process at Box was inefficient and struggling to scale under growing volumes, we tasked ourselves to think differently and we put digitization as a guiding principle to solution. \n\nBreaking it down\n\nWe started by breaking down the end-to-end CLM process into its building blocks and found that \u2013 from the moment of receiving a contract to storing, reviewing, marking up, sharing, deliberating and finalizing \u2013 that there was far too much time wasted. Too much time elapsed between start and finish by mundane tasks that pulled talented people away from higher value work. \n\nRather than solving for the entire CLM process at once, we focused on key pain points and solving each with best of breed services. Because Box has built a modern reference architecture, we were well positioned to do this. This incremental and agile approach not only started to deliver value more quickly but also reduced the change management efforts as they were in smaller digestible steps that were spread out over time. \n\nBest of breed foundation\n\nThe foundation for our process architecture is Box content management and workflow augmented with services that we were already using such as mxHero for email attachment intelligence and DocuSign for e-signatures, O365 for contract editing and negotiation, Crooze for reporting, analysis and obligations management, and Ephesoft for meta data intelligence extraction and tagging. Ephesoft also leverages AI and ML to add intelligence to unstructured data and seamlessly ties into the new Box Skills machine learning framework. For initial buy-side contract reviews, we are also exploring using other AI\/ML based services like Lawgeex.\n\nThe outcome: maximum productivity\n\nThis is just one example of how we\u2019re constantly touching base with our teams and reviewing process data in order to identify opportunities for automation and digitization. Our goal is to take this framework and apply it across every business process and work stream, ultimately empowering our employees to reach maximum productivity and do their highest value work.\n\nWhile our approach may add a certain level of complexity due to the multiple relationships that need to be managed, ultimately it gives us more flexibility and agility in our architecture and processes. It enables us to easily switch out services if something new and\/or better were to emerge and to continuously leverage the ecosystem of innovation that our partners provide. We consider this to be the North Star for rapid continuous improvement and digitization.