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IBM's Verse targets poor email management

IBM is back in the email game with IBM Verse; Cisco inches its way into the mobile collaboration market with new virtual meeting tool, Project Squared.

While IBM relinquished corporate email communication to Microsoft a decade ago, it’s back in the game with a collaborative tool designed to de-clutter inboxes and help users better manage their communication.

IBM this week unveiled the cloud-based Verse, which blends email with collaboration tools and social capabilities. Verse will enlist personalization to automatically categorize incoming email based on the content of the message and user's behavior. Some of Verse's search and classification functionality will be powered by IBM's Watson machine-learning service. Verse also incorporates instant messaging, calendaring, video chat and file-sharing capabilities.

So, while Verse isn't a shot across the bow at Exchange and Outlook, it is trying to make email communication more efficient and less onerous. "It's one of the least-evolved computer activities around,” said Jeff Schick, vice president of IBM Social Software.

IBM Notes, formerly Lotus Notes,  and Domino ceded market leadership to Microsoft more than a decade ago. But IBM has a firmer foothold in collaboration tools, with the IBM Connections Suite. Verse takes aim at email tools like Microsoft Clutter and Google Inbox.

IBM has also indicated that Notes users can make the transition to Verse -- and to the cloud. "If you are already running Notes, we protect your investment in IBM's mail service and allow users to seamlessly access Verse," Schick said.

While email management may be a real problem for employees though, the question is whether they need yet another application to better manage it -- or just better tactics to manage it in the application they already use.

Pricing hasn't yet been announced.

Cisco announces new mobile collaboration tool, Project Squared

This week Cisco Systems Inc., a networking provider, rolled out Project Squared, a service delivered via an app or the Web that is a virtual workspace of sorts, where workers can assemble to meet and collaborate on projects.

Project Squared lets you view audio and video, have multi-party meetings and share content in a single view. The offering sets Cisco up against other virtual meeting software, such as WebEx and TeamViewer, which have yet to step into the modern multimedia-driven mobile workspace-driven world.

Cisco will offer Project Squared for free for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. The company will charge IT for more advanced features and management capabilities.

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Does Verse sound compelling for your email inbox problems?
I like the idea of combining multiple functions within an email management tool, but I'm concerned that it would be an "ok at many things, not great at any" situation. Sure, email may not be evolved, but at least we know it works. 

As far as the email categorization goes, Google Inbox kind of beat IBM to the punch - but maybe Watson will be more impressive.