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Summary

While Microsoft is focusing on providing a better “Inbox” experience for smartphone and tablet users, IBM is thinking “outside-of-the-inbox” with its new, cloud-based, social email offering: IBM Verse.

IBM believes that today’s email model is broken, and that it is having a negative impact on business productivity

IBM Verse was unveiled in November 2014, providing a "post email" solution for the era of big data and information analytics – an era in which cognitive systems power the “insight economy” as IBM calls it. IBM’s current offerings, Notes and Domino, have lost ground to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange in recent years, so shifting the goalposts by re-imagining corporate email for the mobile-first, cloud-connected, socially enabled knowledge worker could turn out to be a shrewd move on IBM’s part, and it will add weight to the company’s Smarter Workforce initiative.

IBM Verse has been designed to offer the business user an alternative email experience to that which they have today – an alternative that complements IBM Connections, the vendor’s enterprise social business platform. IBM Watson features are promised for future versions of IBM Verse, and this new offering introduces faceted search, built-in analytics, machine learning, and a focus on activities that will ensure each user has the right information for the day ahead. The IBM Verse user experience is quite unlike that which employees have today, yet there’s enough familiarity in the new web user interface for users to immediately feel comfortable with this product.

The value and utility of the insights delivered through IBM Verse will inevitably be determined by the information and data that the system has access to. This means that if Verse is expected to build a complete and accurate picture of one’s world of work, then it must have access to all of one’s digital content, such as documents, emails, instant messages, and contacts. Organizations that have already invested in IBM Connections will undoubtedly be tantalized by the promise of Verse, and Notes and Domino email users will most likely be too, but this will mean holding steady and having faith in IBM’s ability to deliver on its endeavors in this important realm.

Appendix

The battle for the corporate Inbox: Microsoft, Google, IBM and now Amazon, IT0021-000056 (February 2015)

Office 365: Email Migration, Coexistence, and Adoption, IT0021-000035 (October 2014)

The New Digital Workspace: An Opportunity Not to Be Squandered, IT0021-000016 (August 2014)

Author

Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility & Productivity

richard.edwards@ovum.com

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