I’m at the Norwegian IBM User Group meeting in Larvik Norway, and several representatives from IBM Norway are here, as usual.
Some of them had read my last blog posting, and came up to me and said that I had been a bit unfair and that they wanted to remedy my impression.
So their suggestion was that I would, via a hybrid solution, be given the opportunity to test IBM Verse with my existing mail environment at work. This means that I will be able to give it a proper test, and have a full scale email environment for Verse to do it’s analytic work on.
This shows that IBM, at least in Norway, are listening and engaging with their customers. That is something I really respect.
I will do a new blog posting about Verse after testing it for a while.
There’s a lot of people in the IBM user/partner community (in the old days lovingly known as the Lotus/Domino community) who have been asking one single question for quite some time now: Where is IBM heading?
The big thing at the last Lotusphere in history, back in Orlando in January, was IBM Verse. The new email solution that would blow all other email solutions out of the water. Then, after a few months, IBM Verse was opened in a beta release. To say we were underwhelmed would be an understatement.
You could not import another email account into IBM Verse, you had to start from scratch with a new IBM Verse address. This makes it much harder to test the analyzer that would help you sort your mail, what is important to you and who you are most in contact with
You could not connect IBM Verse to other email and social media solutions to import contacts
The main point of IBM Verse is the close integration you will have with IBM Connections (IBM’s collaboration solution for business), IBM Sametime (chat, video and telephony) and between email and calendar. Sadly, since you can’t integrate this IBM Verse beta version with the servers at work you have absolutely no chance of testing this full integration
The chat service is only for the beta version of IBM verse, rendering the chat client useless since you don’t have anyone to chat with
If you click the calendar icon you are not given a fresh new and modern calendar interface, instead you are taken to the INotes calendar (web-interface for the Domino mail)
Some of the icons are incomprehensible until you hover your mouse pointer over it. An umbrella for the “Out of office?” Makes sense if you live here in Molde and tt’s summer, I guess…
Compare this to Microsoft’s new outlook.com solution:
A slick, modern and new web interface which is very easy to understand and use
You can use an existing email account inside outlook.com with no problem and it will help you to identify important mail and contacts. Personally I tested with my gmail account
You can import contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, flickr, Twitter and a whole lot of other solutions
You can chat with and make to with any Skype user
You can chat with your Facebook contacts, MSN contacts (yes, really), Google chat contacts and several other chat services
Icons, colors and interface makes sense and is easy to understand
IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10, but the design team decided that improving the good old Notes client, which takes hundreds of gigabytes on your PC, was not the future.
I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Even if I have to say that Outlook 2016 is a really, really good client (I don’t care what you say, Outlook has never been a good mail client, but the calendar became good in Outlook 2010), there is no point in moving from one dinosaur to another dinosaur. The future of email is, as with most other collaboration solutions, in the web and with mobile apps.
And if IBM want their customers to choose their email solutions and integrate it with their collaboration solutions, they must do something. Fast.
IBM finally released IBM Verse on the world back in April, after much hype beforehand. In short: IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10 but evolved into a web mail client which offers a whole new way to sort, search and keep track of emails, appointments, contacts and content. This video gives a nice demonstration:
I’ve got an IBM Verse account, but since it’s not integrated into our solutions at work, nor with my private email, I really haven’t used it that much. The strength of IBM Verse is that it’s tightly integrated with IBM Connections and IBM Sametime. All are tools that we use at our company.
At work we are using IBM Notes 9.0.1 for a lot of things, including email and calendar. However, I’ve been testing the Outlook 2016 client, and it blows Notes mail out of the water. It’s really, really good. Outlook calendar has been better than the Notes calendar for years, but even the email part is now quite excellent in Outlook. Also the web version, not to mention the mobile app, are very good.
Why am I mentioning this? Because the integration between Outlook, Skype for business, Sharepoint and other solutions, combined with their new mobile client will make it even harder for IBM to both counter the moving that a lot of companies are doing from IBM to Microsoft. It will also be much harder to convince new customers to move over to IBM.
In that light, it’s not a smart move to:
1) Not deliver what we were promised with Verse (as this article from Red Pill points out).
2) Still use the standard web version of the calendar instead of the new Verse interface.
No matter how much I love Domino and old IBM products, the world is moving on. And I’m an atheist when it comes to my tools. If MS comes up with a better client, with a good mobile app as well as a nice web interface, I can’t keep my users in the dark. Especially now that we are moving our Notes applications to the web, where we only use the .nsf files for data storage while the web interface are running on other platforms. We are also contemplating moving from Sametime to Lyn…sorry…Skype for business, but IBM is actually doing an effort to keep us on Sametime.
IBM has a lot of challenges ahead. IBM Verse shows good promise, but promise ware is not good enough. The only reason Microsoft got away with promise ware for so long was that they managed to get into a monopoly situation in a time where that was actually possible.