social networking

by Joshua Whitney Allen

Email redux: IBM Verse brings communication to the next level

Published April 15, 2015


Decades into the Digital Age—decades after the film, You’ve Got Mail—IBM has envisioned once more the ideal way to communicate by email.

Big Blue this month announced the general availability of IBM Verse, an email and social messaging solution that incorporates analytics to revise how people connect, communicate, and find information.

A result of IBM’s $100 million investment in design and a key moment in the company’s marketing year, IBM Verse integrates email, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, and social media.

The product is the sort of technology that illustrates IBM’s “New Way to Work” theme, which has carried the firm’s marketing in 2015. With the cognitive solution Watson, Bluemix, DataWorks, and several cloud offerings, Big Blue is presenting the market with new technologies that can handle the rising data amounts and equip businesses with mobile capabilities. These requirements—making all that data useful and fast—are the needs of the moment across every industry and culture, so much so that the IT sector is refining old concepts as well as designing fresh ones.

Last year, Microsoft rolled Clutter, a feature of Office 365 that deploys machine learning to prioritize important email in the mobs of messages that confront users by the minute. Dropbox first released its popular Mailbox email management concept in 2013.

I wouldn’t say there is a need to have perfect email—but there is a need to deal with the glut of information that is incoming now.

Daniel Lieber, President, Innovative Ideas Unlimited

To distinguish what IBM intends as a new way to email, Verse’s design orients email in a relational organization rather than a transactional one. “Who” has sent a message is often as important as what the message addresses—think of your boss’s boss asking you for a copy of a recent report—and woven throughout the Verse solution are analytics that automatically surface a user’s most important people and critical actions. By learning unique user preferences and priorities over time, IBM Verse aims to provide instant context on people and teams.

The technology draws on analytics and cloud, two concepts that IBM has made crucial in its pivot from its past as a hardware company into a tech firm seen as pioneering as any in the world. As data becomes the prime commodity of the 21st century, IBM perceives customers’ hopes for insight and affordable storage as a market demand worth pursuing with all force.

Observers have been keen to note the significance and capability of new email products. Writing about Verse, Alan Lepofsky of Constellation Research asserted that the product “is not yet a major leap forward in changing the way people work. It is not ‘best of breed’ … what it does do is bring many of them together. IBM Verse’s first release competently accomplishes its initial goal of improving people’s email experience.”

In an email to Insights Magazine, Lepofsky explains: “Ideally, an integrated system of messaging, files, and tasks would make getting work done more efficient by providing context around the colleagues and content involved.”

Ideally, an integrated system of messaging, files, and tasks would make getting work done more efficient by providing context around the colleagues and content involved.

Alan Lepofsky, Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

“I wouldn’t say there is a need to perfect email—but there is a need to deal with the glut of information that is incoming now,” says Daniel Lieber, President of Innovative Ideas Unlimited.

According to an announcement, IBM Verse includes faceted search, which allows users to pinpoint and retrieve specific information across all the various types of content within their email.

“We are very excited for this,” CEMEX Chief Technology Officer Gilberto Garcia noted during an interview with Insights Magazine last fall while CEMEX was in the IBM Verse beta program. “It looks very nice. What I like about Verse is it’s more close to the reality of how we work.”

Verse aims to cut through the opacity of bureaucratic life with a team analytics function. Users can see an organizational graph of the people on an email thread and gain insights on who in a vast business is on the chain before responding.

In a feature designed to ease the headaches of version control, IBM Verse includes a social file sharing capability to make co-editing, review, and commenting on a file easy. Owners can track who has downloaded an attached file; recipients automatically have access to the latest file version instead of the original version that was attached into the email.

Delivered on the IBM SoftLayer Cloud with enterprise-grade security, IBM Verse offers a scalable, cloud-based social collaboration offering. IBM also plans to introduce a new licensing model as part of its Bridge to Cloud program for IBM Connections Cloud; customers can deploy collaboration solutions to cloud, on premises or in a hybrid environment.

IBM plans to offer new native mobile apps for Verse that integrate with the IBM MobileFirst Platform, including IBM MobileProtect, and start with IBM iOS for iPhone later this month. IBM will follow that release with apps for Android and iPad in the second quarter.



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