Is Verse a new way to work?

by Volker Weber


I applaud IBM for trying a new and fresh start with email. Ever since they have shown first ideas at Connect 2013 I was hooked. Everybody has his own pattern how to deal with email. Some people leave everything in the inbox and use the unread indicator to form a todo list. Others file everything in dozens of folders. Can they change their ways?

I have shown demos and the preview to a couple of users and I have tried the preview myself. The reactions have been all over the place. Here is a rundown.

Office worker, enterprise with 100k people: "Today I always keep the enterprise directory open in a browser window. Being able to look up who is who right from the email is a real time saver."

Consultant, large firm with 10k people: "This is a browser app? Completely useless to me. I cannot work on the train or in an aircraft. But this is where I deal with most of my email that cannot be handled on my mobile."

IT person, enterprise with 100k people: "We are on IE8 and migrating to IE11. Only runs on Chrome and Firefox? Then it's not for us."

Owner, 5 person agency with lots of contractors: "I don't know how this could change even a single pattern. We know who everybody is, we don't have profiles. We deal mostly with customers who would not be on Verse".

Freelancer: "I would need to change my email address? Well, then forget it."

IT person, small firm, 80 people: "Everybody at our company hates Outlook. But they can't live without it. I am not moving their cheese."

Office worker, medium firm, 150 people: "We don't do much in email. We have SAP. At home, I have my friends on Facebook."

Freelancer: "I set up a trial account, but it's empty. Cannot find a way to get anything in there. Why would I bother? I have my mail on Google and I can login to many places. What is IBM offering that I don't have".

The list goes on.

My current thinking is that if your company looks like IBM, you may be able to profit from Verse. It's certainly better than just plain iNotes. If it comes down to Verse vs. Office 365, then it's going to be Office.

Freemium is a neat idea to seed Verse. But without being able to move in with all their belongings, people will look at it, send a few mails, shrug and leave. A few weeks later they will have forgotten they ever signed up. If IBM does not want to fall for their own propaganda, they won't count the number of sign-ups but the number of messages sent and the number of people who check their inbox every few hours.


@Volker: I completely agree. And I don't think that there is a need or a market for a new free email provider? But if you are flooded with email, Verse may help you find the most important ones.

But if you are receiving several hundred email per day, you should really do whatever is takes to lower this number. This will solve the problem and not the product Verse.


Andy Brunner, 2015-03-22

I need to first talk with Paco the Canine Consultant before I weigh in.

Bruce , 2015-03-22

IBM is not even able to handle registration for new users. I have registered 4 days ago, and the only reaction is that i have got marketing e-mails about verse on the e-mail address i have used for registration. So if IBM really wants to get market share in free e-mail business the have to make a 180 degree turn in their whole processes. Every internet user is used to get instant access to services on the web. They will not wait till someone inside IBM has finished his work.

Ralf M Petter, 2015-03-22

@Ralf: Let's double the effort, and make that 360 degrees.

Andrew Magerman, 2015-03-22


Agree with your perception. Scott Souder was presenting Verse at Connect Switzerland a few weeks back, and the two examples he brought up as being solved by Verse were

a. Hundreds of E-Mails per day.

Surely this is an organizational problem

b. Knowing, out of which of the six back to back meetings I have today, I should prepare for.

Back to back meetings and no preparation? What a waste of time for everybody. I can't imagine any kind of justification for this either. Again, an organizational problem.

Andrew Magerman, 2015-03-22

@Andrew, exactly! And IBM tries to mitigaze their organizational problem with software. That's a fair approach, like treating symptoms. Would be better to adress the illness of course.

Martin Hiegl, 2015-03-22

Verse is the new 'better'...

Ingo Seifert, 2015-03-23

It all reminds me of an enterprise variant of Google+

Some fresh thinking and good ideas, but will propably never really be useful or reach the critical mass.

Fredrik Malmborg, 2015-03-23

Fredric, I think it will be useful within an enterprise. But not for individual use, and most likely also not for people who communicate with people outside their own island.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-23

The screenshot pretty much shows the problem- probably on purpose ;)

If you communicate within your network, you get this nice immersive experience. Profile pictures and information, status updates, instant messages, etc. But outside your network it's just email with a somewhat awkward UI.

Corporate rollouts are a complete different story, but for single users without a way to jumpstart their network it's a tough sell.

Max Nierbauer, 2015-03-23

Not on purpose. But I cannot get over the first hump. So far it is not useful at all.

I see the potential for inhouse use in large enterprises. But I cannot even demonstrate it outside of one.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-23

I think you are right, it is not "a new way to work" and the main features are for enterprise usage only. But I use it for my productive mail account since several weeks and I like it as a replacement for my Notes Client. I don't use the team analytics features and I don't care if I see a picture or only the initials of my primary mail contacts...

I just use it as a nice browser client with some neat new features.
The easy handling of incoming mails (nowhere near "several hundreds" in my case) is my favourite one:
- read and delete
- read and remove from inbox
- read and mark for further processing

Sure, maybe it is not as good as Office365 (I've never seen it), but compared to iNotes or the Notes Client experience, it is a good progress.
IBM has still a lot of work to do to make it a real new way to work, at the moment it is a new client choice beside the Notes client and at least for me, it replaced the Notes client completely...

Stephan Kopp, 2015-03-23

Is it just me, or is Verse more than a little reminiscent of Google Wave?

I seem to recall Wave having similar bold aims to re-imagine email, bringing in aspects of social integration etc. Wave failed (as a Google product, though it lives on elsewhere) because (from Wikipedia) "those who received invitations and decided to test Google Wave could not communicate with their contacts on their regular email accounts. The initial spread of Wave was very restricted."

If Google can't pull this off, I'm not sure anyone else can.

Chris Linfoot, 2015-03-23

I don't think it is like Wave. At first sight, it is just a regular webmail client and can be used as one. You can communicate with everybody.

The real issue is that people already have a mail client and don't need another one. Not a problem in the enterprise, where you can move/migrate people.

Volker Weber, 2015-03-23

I have been using Office365 for 4 months now. Word/Excel I knew since before and they are useful, but Outlook that is new to my everyday work is a huge dissapointment. I really try to be fair and imagine how they want me to use it effectively, but I can't. It is sucha mediocre email client in my eyes. And yes I am Notes biased.

Fredrik Malmborg, 2015-03-24

Just wondering how many companies out there have tried to use Verse?

Que huong, 2015-03-26

Do Notes users have to switch to this? Does Verse cost more? I like the daily calendar. There is an opportunity here, since everybody hates Outlook", and I hate gmail. I wouldn't want to start with a new email address.That would be like changing my phone number.

CJ Young, 2015-03-26

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