At the IBM Connect 2014 conference today, IBM announced not only an update of its email offering that embeds analytics to help make users more productive, but also that it is bringing all of its collaboration software and services together under one IBM Connect brand.
A new version of IBM Web Mail, available on premise or as a cloud service, will make it possible to identify emails relating to specific events or processes that should be prioritized versus other conversation threads that users can mute to deal with at another time.
In addition, IBM also announced its intention to deliver a high-definition video service later this year via the cloud that will be based on IBM Sametime 9 communications software.
Finally, IBM also announced that it is making a version of its Domino collaboration software available as a platform as a service (PaaS) offering running on the IBM SoftLayer cloud. This and other social business cloud services that IBM is building out are part of a $1.2 billion investment in cloud services that IBM revealed earlier this month.
While IBM may not be a dominant force in email, the rise of collaboration in and out of the cloud creates an opportunity for IBM to usurp rivals such as Microsoft. According to Craig Hayman, general manager for industry solutions for IBM Software, email is part of the collaboration continuum and IBM is looking to accelerate the rate of adoption of collaboration by extending the scope and reach of its cloud services.
Ultimately, IBM is trying to promote the creation of social businesses that make use of collaboration tools to flatten the management organization. The degree to which traditionally hierarchical businesses are willing to accept that level of fundamental change to organizational behavior remains to be seen. But given the use of social networks inside and out of the business, the only real question is not whether this transformation will occur, but rather how long it will actually take.