IBM announced the availability of Verse, its new social messaging solution that incorporates built-in analytics to give users a new way to connect, communicate and find the right people and information fast.
Verse is a direct result of IBM's $100 million investment in design innovation. It integrates email, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social and more through a single collaborative, cloud-based environment.
Unique to IBM Verse, analytics are woven throughout the solution to automatically surface the most important people and critical actions for users to focus on. By learning user preferences and priorities over time, IBM Verse provides instant context about a given project as well as the people and teams collaborating on it.
"One of the few things that have changed with email over the past 30 years is the amount of messages being sent and received," Jeff Schick, general manager of IBM Enterprise Social Solutions, said in a statement. "Businesses are sending upwards of 108 billion emails a day and people just can't keep up. Verse combines things like email, calendaring and file sharing with analytics to provide a system that learns who and what are most important to you."
Among the key features in IBM Verse are team analytics, calendaring and file sharing. With one click, users can see an organizational graph of the people on their thread and gain insights before responding. Also, as part of Verse's visual design, the calendar is animated and actionable across the bottom of the landing page, helping users avoid missed meetings. Users can join meetings quickly by merely hovering over the calendar meeting and clicking "Join Meeting" directly from the calendar bar.
"With Verse, we set out to rethink how business people get their work done," said Carolyn Pampino, IBM's lead design director on the Verse project, which was formerly known as IBM Mail Next. "We tried to focus on user delight," she added.
IBM Verse includes a social file-sharing capability to make co-editing, review and commenting on a file easy. When sending an email, users can choose to easily upload a file from their desktop and share it with the mail recipients in a single action. This enables full lifecycle management of the files. In addition, owners can track who has downloaded the file and recipients will always have access to the latest version instead of the version that was attached into the email. It is safe, secure and encrypted. These files can be synchronized to users' desktops, and mobile devices, making sharing and action easy.
"IBM Verse is a natural blending of IBM's expertise in collaboration and analytics," said Jens Rauschen, managing director of Retail, Hamm-RENO Group, a large European footwear retailer that has been beta-testing the solution. "It understands who and what is important to me and helps me get to the heart of the most important matters quickly, so I can get back to my business."
Meanwhile, for international marketing and communications firm Havas Creative, design and speed are key aspects of the solution. "Right away, I was impressed with how intuitive, user-friendly, and modern Verse is," Jeff Marshall, CIO Havas Creative North America, said in a statement. Havas Creative manages an IBM Verse beta environment and plans to roll it out to more than 5,000 employees across North America, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific this year.
Of particular interest to Marshall is IBM Verse's faceted search, which is designed so users can pinpoint and retrieve specific information across the various types of content within their email extremely quickly.
"I believe IBM Verse qualifies as the next stage of a collaboration journey the company began some time ago," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "The fact is that IBM was one of the first companies to add collaboration features to a productivity suite with Lotus. Adding analytics to the mix is an intriguing feature that should effectively enable systems to be customized for individual users. I was struck by IBM's emphasis on data security and privacy. Those are certainly buzzwords these days, but the company also has deeper insights into and appreciation for the needs of enterprise customers than do many of its competitors. Overall, if IBM can deliver on what it's promising, Verse could become a powerful, attractive offering for companies hoping to maximally leverage their employees and work groups."
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 Verse incorporates ongoing feedback from a broad spectrum of business users—from accountants and sales leaders to marketing professionals and software engineers.
Delivered on the SoftLayer Cloud with enterprise-grade security, IBM Verse is a scalable, cloud-based social collaboration offering. IBM plans to introduce a new licensing model as part of its Bridge to Cloud program for IBM Connections Cloud that makes it easy for customers to deploy collaboration solutions to a cloud, on-premises or hybrid environment.
IBM also plans to offer new native mobile apps for Verse that integrate with the IBM MobileFirst platform, including IBM MobileProtect, and starting with IBM iOS for iPhone later this month. IBM will follow that release with apps for Android and iPad in the second quarter.
Moreover, IBM is also making a free version of the technology, IBM Verse Basic, available here.