Monday, February 9, 2015

The IBM Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Verse

Sorry Duran Duran for taking liberties.

By now IBM has done their marketing show to bring you the “new” email client called Verse. Those from the outside and even within will say it is the new iNotes or Webmail. They would be correct in that description. It is. But it is also so much more.

It turns out, for whatever cyclical reason, which is beyond the space time continuum, Microsoft, Amazon(?!), IBM, Google and numerous others are presenting new ways and formats of email. Oddly enough Facebook dropped their pointless email program…only to come back at corporations with a “business” Facebook. As I said in Stockholm right before they announced it, who would trust Facebook with ANY business information? Evidently Facebook thinks someone would. Just. Say. NO.

Is this truly a reboot of email? Did J.J. Abrams put you all up to this?

At the same time as we, and you IBM, are trying to convince people that email is ubiquitous and passé in the social/collaboration space, you at the same time hedge your bets with a reborn email client?

As a long time messaging adviser I am excited by all the new efforts being put forth. Verse will be on premises and in the Cloud. V’ger is coming to a desktop near you. Email that knows what you want, when you want it, who you want to work with and all your history. Cool! Right? Baby Watson under the covers?

We've been here before, remember Actioneer? SwiftFile? Numerous other software sidetracks along the dead product highway. So this is the modern  version. All those bits and pieces were building blocks to get to this point.

There is a Freemium model which is 15 years to late to many of us that have been on Yahoo or Gmail for an eternity, but then see the second paragraph above and you wonder if IBM has an idea here. What I mean is, yes, this all looks on the outside like an odd solution, but from within IBM there is a movement afoot to gain a foothold while Microsoft sleeps. My competitive mind says Gmail should be the aim, and maybe it is, but it seems that the IBM teams have a plan to expand Watson, as well as the rest of the portfolio.

Could we really be n the cusp of a product so expansive  that it would dwarf the existing ecosystem around IBM Connections? Could this truly raise Notes and Domino from the moribund state it has been hanging out in lately?

I don’t know. As much as I love messaging, I don’t think it should be all encompassing. Do I need to know that I email my boss more than my wife? Shouldn't it also be saying to me, “Go outside and play ball with your son.” Or maybe it should be saying, “abstracts are open for a conference that would fit well for you”.  I want real information that is useful to me, not just to business.

As an entrepreneur I can see how insights could be helpful, after all I can only read 1/314159265359 of the internet, if that much, on any given year so who wouldn't want some genius mind helping us?

Hang on, one might be thinking, you are over thinking what Verse does or will do. I don’t think I am. I am extending what I want it to do for me and isn’t that what the whole point of an email client is? To work for me in the best way possible? IBM researchers, and newer designers re thinking about some of these ideas right now, or have been the last 2 years and they want your input as well.

No doubt many reading this post will question my thoughts, but if you will suspend the “email” discussion for a minute, how about this idea….can Verse replace one’s manager?

After all, if it can tell me what I should be doing, then why would one require a manager? Is this another nail 
in the coffin for the middle managers and lower managers? Will we finally be the masters of our domains and be independent contractors within our companies to provide our unique actions to the greater company at large?

Call it what it is, collaboration, knowledge, experiential, whatever other synonyms for analytics that provides HR the ability to finally reach Big Brother mythical status. Providing everyone to be on a new level of productivity. A double edge sword which could be just one of many outcomes. Maybe it really is just another mail client with some nice extras that will require too much effort to build or maintain? 

Is this even feasible today? If so, it would require some serious efforts, which are being done, to bring some of these ideas to fruition. Automation, Artificial Intelligence, programmatic cues to trigger functions…all very HAL/SkyNet like to me. IBM is trying to reboot themselves, Verse may not be the whole solution....yet, but it looks to be a step in the right direction.

So come on, you know you want to try it out, maybe it will help you even get on Jeopardy. That would be an awesome way to get a large amount of people to use it by the way, hint, hint IBM.

If you want to play with Verse, go here to sign up and getan account.