IBM today took another step toward reinventing how organizations collaborate with the launch of IBM Verse, a cloud collaboration service running on the IBM SoftLayer cloud that combines email, calendaring, file sharing, instant messaging, social networking, video and analytics inside a single environment.
Bob Picciano, senior vice president for the IBM Information and Analytics Group, says collectively these technologies have profoundly transformed the way organizations work. The issue is that not only are individuals being overwhelmed by the volume of email they generate and receive, but the number of services they regularly invoke is highly fragmented.
As a freemium service, IBM is looking to unify that experience in a way that allows individuals to apply analytics to prioritize activities. The goal, says Picciano, is to make it easier for organizations to derive actual business insight from all the mediums used to collaborate. In the case of IBM, that will eventually also include Twitter feeds via an alliance the two companies revealed last month.
IBM Verse provides an Intelligent Task Prioritization function that analyzes and predicts which messages are more important to a particular user based on how an end user actually uses the IBM Verse service. It also includes a user interface that makes it easier to navigate related content across multiple communication mediums, tracking both individuals and the projects they are associated with.
Ultimately, IBM is getting at productivity issues that plague organizations of almost any size. In fact, Picciano says studies show that the average employee is now checking their email inboxes about 36 times an hour. Obviously, that level of attention to messages varies widely. But more often than not, the speed at which any business operates is directly related to the ability of the people that work there to correlate relevant information.
Picciano says the analytics capability included in IBM Verse will serve as the foundation of an “Insight Economy” that will transform how business value is actually derived and created. Of course, IBM has been applying analytics to email for a while; what’s different now is that those capabilities are being made more broadly available as a cloud service.
A beta release of IBM Verse will be available to select enterprise clients and partners in November 2014. A freemium version available on the IBM Cloud Marketplace will be available to individuals in the first quarter of 2015. IBM plans to make IBM Verse available as a private cloud running on the IBM SoftLayer cloud as well.
Verse will also be offered as an app for both iOS and Android to give mobile users the same experiences on the go as they have on their PCs. In keeping with the IBM recent alliance with Apple, the iOS application will precede the Android application.