Hacking Our Way to an AI Future

September 13, 2023

Hacking Our Way to an AI Future

Artificial intelligence trends are like the tide, ebbing and flowing over time as public interest in AI and ML capabilities comes and goes. While AI seems like the big thing right now in the tech world, including judging beauty contests and diagnosing sepsis, it’s nothing new for the harmon.ie team. We’ve known there’s tons of potential, but harnessing that into something tangible and realistically achievable for your own business isn’t always so obvious.

At harmon.ie, we remain committed to building solutions that really help users with everyday tasks in a safe and trustworthy way that treats security and privacy issues with the respect and importance they deserve. Because our solutions interact with your very delicate business information, we’re developing AI models for email retention and management that satisfy our customers’ stringent information management concerns and comply with industry regulations. We’re firmly committed to augmenting our offerings with AI-infused functionality, but only in the smartest and safest way possible. To move AI from the theoretical to the practical in our own offerings, we devoted our first-ever hackathon to the subject.

On August 2nd, we divided up the company into two teams of developers, product managers, and designers, challenging each to come up with ideas, pick one, and then design a prototype. At the end of the day, the teams presented their work—along with a vision and value proposition for this new capability.

Hackathon goals

While we’d already narrowed down the possibilities to AI-related functionality, we needed the teams to focus on innovations that would have a meaningful impact on the customer experience. We set our judging criteria accordingly to keep everyone aligned with the hackathon goals:

  • Innovation—Is this a truly novel capability that extends our solution’s functionality and utility?
  • Customer value—Does this address a pain point for our users or make them more efficient and productive?
  • Vision—Is there a compelling story and rationale for why this innovation is worthy of a coveted spot on our roadmap? Does it connect to a broader idea of how our solution can help customers achieve their goals?
  • Security—Does the solution clear the highest bar for our data privacy guidelines and our customers’ security policies?
  • Delivery & Presentation—Did the pitch win us over? Were we engaged, educated, and delighted?

These stated goals not only made it clear how the teams would be evaluated, but they also served as guardrails to keep the teams focused. With only a single day to complete these projects from start to finish, there was no time for detours and distractions.

Runner up: harmon.ie Copilot

While this team may not have won the crown, they still had a great idea, an impressive prototype, and an appealing presentation. While harmon.ie is great for quickly saving and sharing emails to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, the product currently doesn’t tell you where to save them within those collaboration sites. Using AI, the Copilot feature takes care of that for users.

Based on the contents of each email message and the available folders and directories on Teams and SharePoint, harmon.ie Copilot offers users three top suggested locations to save each selected email message. Leveraging harmon.ie’s AI engine and Microsoft Graph, three options are identified and displayed right in the harmon.ie panel within Outlook. The user can then just click on which one they prefer and save it.

This solution addresses a business pain point, as organizations lose 21% of their workforce productivity thanks to unstructured file management, which this solution would help reduce. For end users, they can let AI do most of the thinking. Instead of searching or drilling down into Teams or SharePoint directories, they’re now just presented with appropriate options. This saves them time and brain power while also avoiding messages getting accidentally saved in the wrong places.

What do you think? Could you use the Copilot in your harmon.ie?

Winner: Save Me

Copilot made a pretty strong case, but ultimately it was Save Me that took home the trophy. This team zeroed in on a pervasive problem we see even among our existing customers: Most people aren’t saving emails to Teams or SharePoint. In fact, only about 10% of users are doing this regularly, which creates a huge compliance risk in many industries.

The solution this team proposed is to proactively prompt users to save specific emails since lots of users simply don’t know which emails should be shared to Teams or SharePoint. Using AI, this solution scans the emails already saved on Teams or SharePoint to identify their defining characteristics. Then it scans the user’s inbox to identify similar types of messages, tagging them in Outlook.

Users are also notified within the harmon.ie panel in Outlook, including an alert when a new message that should be saved to Teams or SharePoint is received.

Not only did the Save Me team come up with this exciting new feature idea, but their vision extended to other possibilities. These include the ability for IT to define email retention rules and exemptions to better inform the AI as well as an email compliance dashboard. They even mocked up a standalone PLG tool IT departments can use to assess their organization’s current compliance risk level based on the number of unsaved messages that should be retained.

Save Me’s value proposition is rooted in not only driving compliance and simplifying the process but also in educating both IT and end users on how inbox management and email retention fit into the overall compliance and information management landscape.

Everyone wins

Although the Save Me team took the title and can claim bragging rights until the next competition, our entire company benefitted from the exercise. We now have two new exciting additions to our product roadmap, along with plenty of other ideas to add to the backlog. But more importantly, it was an opportunity to break free from our daily routine.

Participants got to work for the first time with colleagues normally assigned to different projects, sparking creativity and forging new relationships. It also forced everyone to think about identifying and solving problems holistically, rather than just focusing on the business case or implementation.

We also saw firsthand how intense collaboration can yield significant results in short order. Regardless of which team you were on—or if you were a judge or simply watched from the sidelines—we all came away inspired by the potential of AI to supercharge harmon.ie’s product line and our ability to innovate on the fly to create exciting new innovations.

We can’t recommend hosting your own internal hackathon enough. The unique combination of team building, creativity, and executing under time pressure will invigorate your organization.

What would be your AI wish for harmon.ie 2024?

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