Ever since IBM acquired Lotus Development Corporation back in 1995, their collaboration platform has evolved on technology that started with Lotus and eventually became IBM Notes and a number of other collaboration products. The November 18th press release introducing IBM Verse, “email reimagined”, has nary a mention of Cambridge-based Lotus. As far as IBM is concerned, it seems Lotus is gone for good.
Anybody that spent the first decade and a half of the new millennium at IBM can remember the mantra “we’re not in the application business” or the efforts to brand “middleware” like Websphere, DB2, Tivoli, Rational, and Lotus. With the introduction of IBM Verse, a new collaboration platform, the distinction between applications and middleware appears to have evaporated.
When you consider some of the statistics, you almost have to be relieved that IBM has jumped into the fray with Verse, regardless of how it's labeled: middleware, application software, whateverware.
- 108 billion work emails are sent daily
- Employees check their inboxes an average of 36 times an hour
- Only 14 percent of those emails are of critical importance
- Worldwide revenue for enterprise email expected to reach $4.7 billion in 2017
Will Verse be the answer to the junkmail glut? As discussed by ZDNet, IBM design director for enterprise social solutions, Carolyn Pampino, explained that "IBM Verse stems from CEO Virginia Rometty’s push for a reinvestment and upgrade in IBM’s heritage in design.”
Pampino stresses that the application provides more of a focus on people. "It’s an easy and fast way to immediately filter on a person’s name,” she said. In addition, Verse brings fast search capabilities, similar to the speed of the big online retailers, into the mail experience. Verse also promotes and incorporates interpersonal relationships into the mail experience by offering data insights into other people on a given thread.
A review on Tech Firstpost notes Verse’s application of business analytics to expedite communications via a built-in personal assistant that learns a user’s behavior and drafts responses to e-mails based on previous interactions. The app allows users to repurpose email content into blogs and social posts, view employee relationships, even mute a thread when it becomes annoying.
Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, IBM Information and Analytics Group said in the press release that “the convergence of analytics, cloud, social and mobile technologies is not just impacting our personal lives, it's profoundly changing how we work. With IBM Verse, we challenged our design teams to use analytics to completely reimagine the social collaboration experience to focus on engaging people and driving outcomes, not managing messages and inboxes.”
Techradar.com reports that Verse learns employee's habits over time and eventually determines what information it needs to prioritize on a day-to-day basis. The interface is optimized for mobile and web, with iOS and Android apps integral to the experience. It will eventually even have Watson support, letting companies embed their own Watson analytics so their employees can query them directly.
A beta version of IBM Verse will be available in November for select participants, and a freemium version will roll out more widely on IBM's Cloud Marketplace in early 2015.
For more information about what IBM Verse may mean for you, contact the IBM Business Partner Network.