IBM is going up against cloud-apps powerhouses Google and Microsoft with its next generation e-mail client, called Verse, designed to enrich email with social media and analysis.
"We felt we could leverage analytics to build an experience that understands your priorities," said Jeff Schick, IBM general manager of IBM social solutions, of the app that launched as a private beta on Tuesday. "We had the opportunity to reduce clutter and create priority, and to help people be more efficient in how they master their inbox."
The company plans to offer Verse in the first quarter of 2015 as a hosted service though the IBM Cloud Marketplace. IBM will also issue apps for both iOS and Android that can access all the same features as the desktop browser version.
"They are addressing known problems, inbox clutter, prioritization and the ability to access different modes of communication, from an integrated user experience," Rob Koplowitz, research analyst at Forrester who covers collaboration software, wrote in an e-mail.
Like IBM's Notes e-mail client, Verse relies on the IBM Domino e-mail server. Unlike Notes, which was built on a client-server architecture, Verse is entirely Web-based. Going forward, IBM will encourage customers to use Verse as an enterprise email client, except for those organizations that have built their own applications on Notes' Eclipse-based development platform, Schick said.
The Verse interface fuses email with other information harvested from internal and external sources. Users can access other IBM collaboration software, such as calendar, file sharing and messaging from the e-mail page.
The interface also generates a summary of information that might be of interest to the user: It can highlight upcoming appointments and tasks that should be completed. For group e-mails, it can generate a summary of each of the participants, and show how each party is related to one another in the work context.
The calendar does not require a separate page, but rather runs along the bottom of the e-mail page, where upcoming events can be quickly viewed. The service can sort email depending on its level of importance, as evaluated by the software. Verse observes the user's email habits over time and arrives at estimates of which email will be most pertinent.,
The company has upgraded the search capability, offering users a way to drill down for specific information found not only in the email messages but attachments as well. The email service will also offer access to the company's Watson machine-learning based analysis engine. Users can submit reports and other information to the service, and conduct searches against the collected material.
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