IBM announced yesterday that it is reinventing enterprise email with “a new freemium social collaboration offering that uses built-in analytics to give employees a new way to converse, find the right people and information fast, and get work done”.
Called IBM Verse, it stems from the company’s $100 million investment in design innovation and brings together its cloud, analytics, social and security platforms “to transform the future of work”.
IBM Verse takes a vastly different approach to enterprise email by integrating the many ways employees connect each day – via email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates, video chats and more – through a single collaboration environment. It is the first messaging system to feature “faceted search”, which enables users to pinpoint and retrieve specific information they’re seeking across all the various types of content within their email.
IBM Verse uses built-in analytics to provide an at-a-glance view that intelligently surfaces an individual’s most critical actions for the day. By learning employee preferences and priorities over time, it provides instant context about a given project as well as the people and teams collaborating on it. This is in contrast to most freely available mail services that mine a user’s inbox to increase advertising and monetise that data in other ways – an unwelcome proposition for business users concerned about privacy or who operate in regulated industries such as healthcare and finance.
Clients using IBM Verse will also have the future option to embed a Watson feature into their collaboration environment, which enables users to query Watson on a given topic and receive a direct reply with answers ranked by degree of confidence.
The launch expands upon recent IBM initiatives designed to help organisations change the way people work, industries operate and companies perform. In July 2014, IBM launched a partnership with Apple to develop a new class of industry specific business apps to transform enterprise mobility. In September, IBM unveiled Watson Analytics to put powerful yet easy-to-use predictive and visual analytics tools in the palm of your hand, and in October launched Navigator to boost personal and team productivity by allowing users to easily and securely access, edit and share business documents.
Most recently, the company formed a global partnership with Twitter to transform how businesses understand customers, markets and trends by using Twitter data to make more informed decisions. These and IBM Verse are intended to help enterprise customers unlock the full potential of professionals and the clients they serve.
Although email is considered one of the most significant advances in workforce productivity over the past 30 years, today it has become one of the greatest organizational burdens. IT industry analysts estimate that 108 billion work emails are sent daily, requiring employees to check their inboxes an average of 36 times an hour.
Compounding the problem, it is also estimated that only 14 percent of those emails are of critical importance. At a time when every organization is striving to be more efficient, social and collaborative, this has created a dynamic where the volume of email interaction still outpaces social collaboration by a wide margin. In fact, according to IT industry firm IDC, email remains the single most widely used collaboration tool, with worldwide revenue for enterprise email expected to reach $4.7 billion in 2017.
The convergence of analytics, cloud, social and mobile technologies is not just impacting our personal lives, it’s profoundly changing how we work,” said Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, IBM Information and Analytics Group. “These forces are reshaping how people make decisions, create and share new ideas and collaborate across teams to get work done. 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.
Cemex, a global leader in the building materials industry, is one of the first clients to participate in an early beta of the new offering.
“The overall design and visual interface immediately caught my attention, there is a simplicity and purpose in how information is presented that makes the entire experience very intuitive,” said Gilberto Garcia, Chief Technology Officer, Cemex. “I quickly realized just how much was happening beneath the surface. It gives you a seamless blend of email, social and collaboration capabilities that didn’t force me to jump between my inbox, calendar and other apps to share and connect with people. It’s hard to even call this email anymore, that’s just one facet to what they are delivering with IBM Verse.
IBM provided the following information on Verse:
Jointly developed in collaboration with more than 50 clients and partners in the IBM Austin Design Studio and other labs around the world, the design of IBM Verse incorporates ongoing feedback from a broad spectrum of business users – from accountants and sales leaders to marketing professionals and software engineers. The result was a number of design breakthroughs, including:
¬∑ Intelligent Task Prioritization: Quickly finds and prioritizes the tasks that matter most. With lightning-fast search and built-in intelligence, it analyzes — and eventually even predicts — user behaviors and preferences in order to personalize an employee’s unique social mail experience.
¬∑ Intuitive Collaboration Across Devices: An intuitive, ‚Äòat-a-glance’ user interface optimized for mobile and web environments helps users quickly take action on content and conversations previously scattered across multiple tools such as email, calendar, to-dos, social networks, chats, online meetings and documents. It features one-click ability to share content as a blog post rather than an email and share files through cloud-based communities.
¬∑ Engage People, Not Email: Provides deep context around the people and teams involved in a given task or project to drive more valuable employee engagements at the moment of impact. This allows users to visualize employee profiles, understand relationships between individuals and teams, and more effectively track and manage project and task delegation.
IBM Verse enables subject matter experts to share insight in two clicks or less in any social environment inside or outside their organization. Rather than replying to a narrow email distribution, project leaders can share their insights as a blog post for their entire project team, with the ability to delegate and track critical actions across individual team members.
Delivered on the SoftLayer Cloud with enterprise-grade security, IBM Verse gives enterprise customers, small businesses and individuals a scalable, cloud-based social collaboration environment optimized for mobile and Web environments. A beta release of the new offering will be available to select clients and partners in November 2014. A freemium version delivered via the IBM Cloud Marketplace will be available in the first quarter of 2015. IBM Verse will also be offered as an app for both iOS and Android to ensure mobile users have the same experiences on the go as they do on their PCs.
Simply making the Inbox social isn’t enough. Organizations need better tools to support the way real work gets done in today’s modern enterprises,” said Charlene Li, founder and CEO of Altimeter Group. “That means keeping the focus centered on people and projects, and using analytics and mobile to make it a seamless experience.
IBM offers the world’s deepest portfolio of technologies and expertise that are transforming the future of work. To help clients quickly innovate and make better, data-driven decisions, the company’s leading cloud and analytics platforms draw expertise from 70,000 client engagements and 5,500 patents. To deliver seamless and secure experiences across devices, clients have access to 11,000 dedicated mobile and security experts supported by 4,300 patents powering IBM’s MobileFirst portfolio. With IBM social software used by 79 of the top global Fortune 100 companies, IBM was recently named worldwide market share leader in enterprise social software for the fifth consecutive year by IDC.
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