Email replacement? IBM readying business email substitute with Verse

New Verse platform will unify email, social, analytics and security into one solution, claims IBM

IBM has announced a new cloud-based platform that it believes could replace enterprise email.

Dubbed IBM Verse, the product brings together email, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates, video chats and meetings into a single environment.

Through its at-a-glance user interface (UI), IBM said, content can be shared as a blog post or through cloud-based communities rather than an email, if desired, with a single click.

"Rather than replying to a narrow email distribution, project leaders can share their insights as a blog post for their entire project team, with the ability to delegate and track critical actions across individual team members," said IBM.

Beyond simply unifying these seven elements of workplace-productivity software into one, Verse also includes "intelligent task prioritisation". This uses data analytics to determine and highlight the user's most important tasks for the day, and predictive analytics to anticipate their preferences and behaviours and tailor the software to them.

"By learning unique employee preferences and priorities over time, it provides instant context about a given project as well as the people and teams collaborating on it," IBM said.

The company added it won't use the data mined for these services to serve advertising or "monetise that data in other ways", which it describes as "an unwelcome proposition for business users concerned about privacy or which operate in regulated industries".

Verse customers will eventually be able to integrate a feature from Watson, IBM's Jeopardy-winning AI, that will enable users to ask a question on a certain topic and receive a direct reply, with answers ranked by degree of confidence.

IBM will also offer a Verse app for iOS and Android, so users can access it while on the move.

Verse, which is built on IBM's SoftLayer cloud platform, will be available on a freemium basis through the IBM Cloud marketplace from the beginning of 2015, although some "select clients and partners" will have access to a beta version before the end of the month.

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