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11/18/2014
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IBM Verse: Can It Trump Google Inbox?

Cloud-based IBM Verse blends email, collaboration, and social intelligence to show what's relevant. Main rivals: Microsoft Clutter and Google Inbox.

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IBM on Tuesday introduced a new cloud-based service called IBM Verse that the company said will "reinvent enterprise email" by blending it with collaboration tools and social smarts to help users quickly find and focus on their most critical tasks and communications.

"We've applied analytics to enterprise email in an innovative way," said Bob Picciano, senior VP for IBM Information and Analytics Group, at a launch event in New York. "It's about engaging with people, driving relationships, and highlighting important tasks, not managing messages."

IBM contrasted Verse with free Internet mail services that "mine a user's inbox to increase advertising and monetize data." But it's clear that IBM Verse is going after the corporate email and collaboration market served by Microsoft, Google, and others.

[Want more on taming email? Read Microsoft's Answer To Death By Email: Meet Clutter.]

IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) and Domino gave up messaging market leadership to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange more than a decade ago. But IBM remains a leader in social collaboration tools with its IBM Connections Suite. IBM Verse is a stab at snatching more messaging and collaboration deployments as the market heads into the cloud.

Hoping to be a disruptor, IBM is blending email, meeting, calendar, file sharing, instant messaging, social update, and video chat capabilities in a single environment. To this it's adding faceted search, for quickly finding content by type and topic, as well as personalization and social behavioral analysis capabilities to reduce the time and effort required to manage email and collaboration tasks.

"IBM is trying to deliver a better way of dealing with the symptoms of the email problem rather than making email work better," said Matt Mullen, senior analyst, social business, at 451 Research, in a phone interview.

Rival efforts to streamline email management include the recently announced Microsoft Clutter and Google Inbox, but IBM is promising to do more than declutter the email inbox. By analyzing each user's social connections, activities, correspondence patterns, and how they use the tools, IBM said it can personalize the experience of each user and surface their most important tasks and correspondence.

IBM Verse is designed to keep priorities in sight by showing work you owe, work others owe you, and meetings you need to attend.
IBM Verse is designed to keep priorities in sight by showing work you owe, work others owe you, and meetings you need to attend.

"The big problem with email is not clutter," said Mullen. "Microsoft Clutter and Google Inbox may be very useful, but IBM is going a level deeper, to look at the things that users are planning and who they're planning them with, which is something that IBM Connections has a better handle on than, say, Google."

IBM Verse is being introduced with a freemium model on IBM's cloud, taking on the likes of Microsoft Office 365, Google, and other cloud-based messaging and collaboration service providers. But analysts briefed on the product said it won't be long before IBM adds on-premises software aimed at maintaining existing on-premises IBM Notes/Domino messaging deployments that aren't headed into the cloud.

"IBM would like to get new [on-premises] enterprise customers, but I don't believe that's the goal," said Alan Lepofsky, a VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, in an email interview with InformationWeek. "Because Verse is going to be available very easily in the cloud, it puts IBM into the SMB battle with Google Apps and Office 365. They are even going to price it similarly."

Pricing details weren't available at the launch event. Customers can sign up for the IBM Verse beta release immediately. General availability is anticipated in early 2015.

As we pull out of a difficult time in our nation's financial history, government agencies struggle to meet information technology demands. Agencies must focus on the cloud and a strong information governance program to avoid the sort of attention recently focused on the IRS. Get the Time To Reconsider Enterprise Email Strategy report from InformationWeek Government today. (Free registration required.)

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
11/27/2014 | 2:38:44 AM
Re: Email Connections
@CharlesD66401: the email connections are of importance but they have to be used quite intelligently because they can make the customer annoyed. You just don't have to send information of every product and also it has to be considered that to whom this information is being sent. I am sure a CIO connection would only be willing to read a specific email with to the point information and presented in a proper way, not like a daily advertisement.
CharlesD66401
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CharlesD66401,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2014 | 12:25:13 AM
Email Connections
Best way to get your inbox full by getting a response from customers. Sharing new advertising email or an email related to your brand will let you continue your engaging with your new and old customers and will help you further increase your saleability. My brand hexder.com is on its peak on email marketing.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/19/2014 | 3:14:07 PM
Re: Does IBM offer a better understanding of work?
Notes! The collaboration idea was ahead of its time. Not the interface, but the idea.
ColleenLine
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ColleenLine,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2014 | 10:02:51 AM
Re: Tie-in with IBM Connections?
David-

Verse does include the socialytics capabilities of Connections.  This will allow you, among other things, to visually see how you are related to others on an invite or email thread.  From that view you are also able to click on any of the inviduals and see their business card.  Finally, you can see presence and choose to chat with someone from right there!


Verse really is a social collaboration tool!
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 6:42:38 PM
Re: Tie-in with IBM Connections?
The problem with any AI system for email filtering is you never know which messages have not been considered. So as with the Spam folder, you need to be able to double check the filering of the AI by going over it yourself, thereby undermining the point of having AI.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 6:15:43 PM
Re: Tie-in with IBM Connections?
Did I hear correctly that there's an option to query Watson? That would be cool. "Watson, what did my boss ask me to do last week that I forgot?"
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 2:59:00 PM
Does IBM offer a better understanding of work?
IBM is using its understanding of the enterprise and how people work to try to disrupt the messaging market. Both Google and Microsoft have upgraded existing products, but it seems to me IBM has the more comprehensive approach. It will of course have to overcome the legions of users who finally escaped Notes and who never want to go back.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 1:53:42 PM
Re: Tie-in with IBM Connections?
Verse is a blending of email with Connections. The server behind the cloud the email aspect of the cloud service is Domino, but IBM said Verse will be able to aggregate email from multiple messaging servers/service providers. They also said private cloud support will be available. A native iOS is available now and an Android app is in the works.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 1:38:40 PM
Re: Tie-in with IBM Connections?
BTW, the online extras cheat sheet I wrote to go with my Social Collaboration for Dummies book talks about how email and social collaboration can reinforce each other.

Forgive the blatant plug, but I'd be very happy if renewed interest in this sector stirred up a few book sales.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
11/18/2014 | 1:33:32 PM
Tie-in with IBM Connections?
Have they explicitly talked about how this would work with IBM Connections, their social business collaboration platform? I'd think one of the powerful tools they could tap, in organizations that use both tools, would be the internal organizational social graph showing who you work with most closely -- and thus whose email you're likely to most want to see, front and center.

I meant to tune into the webcast but wound up not having time for it this morning.
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