Meet Christine Spang, Co-Founder and CTO of Nylas

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The original inspiration for the company began in 2013 while I was at MIT. I was working on a thesis project about connecting programs together and learned it was very difficult to do.

In particular we found that email is really hard to connect to and because of that people weren’t using the data from email in the most effective way. Given that email is overwhelmingly the most used communications channel worldwide, we knew if we could extract the useful communications data from email and make it available to developers, that would be very valuable.

Today, Nylas is the Communication Platform-as-a-Service company enabling organisations to connect with customers’ email, calendars and contact books and leverage AI, data intelligence, and user experience tools to unlock the power of communications data.

How are AI and data-driven comms evolving business’ models and infrastructure?

AI and data-driven communications are reshaping business models and consumer expectations in several ways. Automation in particular is a major factor in giving developers and businesses more time back. By using AI to manage simple tasks and using automation to access communications data, developers have more opportunities to be innovative and think creatively.

Thinking about it from a real world example, a company like Amazon has the infrastructure in place to recommend a product you really need or would want based on your past search history. Alternatively, Netflix often highlights shows or movies you might enjoy based on what you have seen before.

Not only do these methods make the process easier for the end user, this way of engaging with audiences also drives loyalty and engagement – which in turn drives profitability and market share.

To be more specific, these companies learn consumer preferences from direct interactions with them and from traces consumers leave around the internet as they browse, watch and shop.

They then use this insight to improve the way they serve consumers and enhance your experience. It is a huge advantage – but the landscape is shifting.



Do you see this changing in the coming years?

Attitudes about data privacy and the use of third-party data are changing. Google has been phasing out third-party cookies for quite some time, causing marketers in particular to worry about what comes next.

But instead of using costly and less impactful third-party data, businesses also have an opportunity now to utilise first-party data. As in the data that customers opt into by sharing information within their emails, phones and other communications sources. By using this data that is already out there, businesses are not violating consumers’ rights but they are also getting much more personalised recommendations than compared to third-party data.

It seems a fair bet that in the future, far fewer people and companies will likely share consumers’ data.But instead, companies will need to earn their customers’ trust and keep it, and data privacy will be a big part of that. Those businesses that suck in masses of third-party data will have to adapt and consider alternative options to stay relevant.

Tell us about how your customers are responding to this.

Our customers are gaining more insight from the data their users share with them.

According to a recent Nylas survey, more than 70% of companies in both the U.S. and U.K. deemed omnichannel communications as either “very important” or “business critical”, more than any other factor when aiming to boost user engagement, drive ROI, and increase operational efficiency.

They now recognise that email, chat, scheduling and contacts are a treasure trove of insight.

Nylas extracts the information from all these channels into a single view further allowing their clients the ability to apply intelligence to provide unique, valuable services to their customers.

What does this mean for the future of AI?

AI still has a long way to go. But it’s also now being used to help humans work more efficiently.

In particular, bringing communications into one platform can help organisations apply AI to do better without taking advantage of their personal information. Deliver more relevant communications and more relevant offers.

Anything else you can tell us about Nylas, and what’s next for the business?

One thing Nylas believes to be true, is that developers’ time is extremely valuable. Organisations should be thinking of how they can leverage their developers and engineering resources to quickly and efficiently innovate and build impactful customer and employee experiences along with competitive differentiation within their products and services.

Company leaders that squander this precious and finite resource on building bespoke integrations instead of leveraging modern APIs that can be delivered out of the box are letting their shareholders down.


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