SWIFT - Enhancing Email Through Artificial Intelligence

By Stefan Riehle, Yijian Lan & Alexander Kübler — 4 Day Strategic Design Workshop.


In times of social media platforms and messaging services, the e-mail system appears a little bit old-fashioned. Writing e-mails can be inefficient and is time-consuming. Nevertheless, it is the most common way to communicate in today’s business world. Winfried Holz (Managing Director of Atos in Germany) says 50% of e-mails are unnecessary, 30% is not necessary for the business purpose and only 20% are relevant.

The question we have asked ourselves, is it possible to take away the inefficiency of e-mail communication in order to meaningfully support employees and thereby increase productivity?

Main problems with email communication


SWIFT is an artificial intelligence-based plugin for existing e-mail programs which provides intelligent support, natural workflows and seamless communication to help you focus on the things that really matter.

In order to make communication in business environments more efficient, the present system should not be replaced but enhanced because of the difficulties in replacing systems.

SWIFT - AI based plugin for email software

How does it works? – SWIFT sorts e-mails by relevance automatically, provides a smart and personalized dictionary for special terms, shortens text to the minimum necessary length, enables a voice to text function and includes a writing assistant for spelling, grammar, readability and word density. But the e-mail system is not the perfect channel for every communication task.

To facilitate the use of alternative communication forms, they should be set in the e-mail system in an intuitive and well-known way. SWIFT chooses the most adequate communication channel for every situation and user automatically and embeds it in the e-mail program’s interface. These channels can be messaging services, social media or organization tools.

  • Content Based Sorting – AI based e-mail sorting, Scans the e-mail list and creates automatic folders based on content.
  • Voice to Text – Generates sophisticated texts via simple voice commands, Speech inputs can be made in colloquial language and keywords
  • Writing Assistant – Supports text analysis for the manual writing of e-mails, Spelling, grammar, readability, word density are analyzed and supported with tips from the AI
  • Smart Dictionary – Your personal translator and tutor, Explanation adapted to individual user needs
  • Text Shortener – Reduce text content with the shortener slider without losing key information.

At our four-day design workshop, we had to divide up the time management ourselves. We needed a day to find a topic with research and problem-finding. For the idea development, design and prototyping in Origami Studio we needed the remaining 3 days.

Due to the lack of time in the workshop, we did not have time to test our ideas with a target audience. However, we were able to obtain feedback in the eventual concept presentation of fellow students and lecturers.

  • Stefan Riehle (Strategic & Industrial Designer);
  • Yijian Lan (Strategic & Interaction Designer);
  • Me (Strategic & Interaction Designer)
My Role
  • UI/UX Design
  • Prototyping

Our Project Process

1. Kick off

We started by clustering topics and ideas on a big mind map. So we came up with the choice of a subject einacher. We decided on the area of the workplace and its most common workflows. Although today there are countless tools and services for digital communication at workplaces, email communication still plays an important role despite some weaknesses. Finding these weaknesses and developing concepts for the optimization of email communication is our main task.

So our mission is to make email software ready for the future.

2. Research

We did a desktop research to answer the questions: 1. Why is email still such a big deal? 2. Why do people write them and for what? 3.What problems are there in the communication via email and why are there so many alternative communication services?

Kermit the Frog - Giphy

The research shows that the total number of e-mails sent and received and the large processing time lead to inefficient communication. Emails vary in relevance, purpose and matter, which makes them difficult to follow up. The broad distribution and habits of employees using an established system discourage them from using alternative channels that can do the job better.

3. Synthesis

For a quick project focus, we focused on researching key areas. The intuitive working with email programs and the time savings through intelligent and automated processes.

4. Ideation and Prototyping

We have thought a lot about the feasibility of our ideas and have come to the conclusion that Technology Artificial Intelligence will play a crucial role in our concept.

Only through optimized machine learning processes can recurring tasks be automated and optimized, so that workflows become more and more intelligent after regular use. AI also plays a major role in the recognition, evaluation and intelligent shortening of texts. In addition, the software learns from the user’s behaviors and writing styles, which allows personalized optimizations and suggestions. For the implementation of the prototypes the software Origami Studio was used.

Ideation and Prototyping


It is clear that our current and future programs, products and devices are becoming smarter and more efficient with the support of artificial intelligence. Of course, this ongoing optimization can also mean that the software, devices and tools we use today are no longer needed tomorrow. Of course, that will not happen so fast with our email software, but who knows?

Because even if we will communicate via emails in the future, then certainly not in the way we do today. That's why it is even more important to recognize and adapt the right trends at the right time. This is precisely what we have tried with SWIFT, which represents a way to keep email communication in the future, to be able to implement innovations and to support office workers in a meaningful and intelligent way through the use of artificial intelligence.

The functions we have planned with SWIFT are already feasible to a large extent. The concept can be more or less seen as a status quo for the use of AI in software, which makes it all the more exciting what will come in the near future.

Thanks for your interest–If you have questions and are more interested in our project feel free to send an email or contact me on LinkedIn.