So, How About that IBM Verse?

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.

Should You Turn on Out-of-Office?

Summer means holiday and vacation, at least in Norway, where the country grounds to a halt for three weeks. Most people have been told to turn on Out of Office¬†in their email when they go away. But should you? I’m here to tell you that no, you probably shouldn’t. Not unless you plan to not read your email.

Out of Office
Be offline when you are out of office!

I’m sure you are familiar with this situation:

You need a reply, urgently, from someone about an issue in an important project. Seconds after hitting Send, you hear a pling in your Inbox. But the email reply says: “John Doe is Out of the Office. Will return 32nd of February 2014. If urgent, please contact Jane Colleague.”

So naturally you contact Jane. She promises to look into your problem, but she’s not really familiar with the project, so she has to check up on things before getting back to you. Here’s the punchline: John brought his cellphone with him on holiday. And on this device he reads the email you sent. So he replies to your questions. These are questions Jane now is spending her valuable time finding replies to. Unfortunately she’s not able to come up with any answers, so she contacts another colleague and then he starts spending time on this.

The wheels are now in motion. The others don’t know that you are happy because John got back to you after all, and the company loses time and money because other people are working on providing you with something you already have. This is bad business.

My advice is therefore: If you are planning on being available via email, either via computer or a hand held device, during the holiday, do not turn on Out of Office! You are either offline or you are online. There’s nothing in between. Telling someone that you are out of office, but you will “read email sporadically,” is worthless info for when there are issues that can’t wait.

Second advice: If you have turned on Out of Office, do not reply before you are back at work!¬†The people who have emailed you are not expecting a reply before you are back, because it’s stated very clearly in your Out of Office reply when you will be back (or at least it should be). And if it was urgent for them to get a reply, they must surely have been in contact with other colleagues of yours by now. Replying, even if you have stated that you are Out of Office, does not come off as being very professional.

Last advice: If you do turn on Out of Office, make sure you care completely offline! It’s ok to take a break and have timeout from your work. It’s your well earned holiday, and you are not indispensable. Making certain key personnel at your workplace know how to reach you (like your boss or project leader) by phone or other means is fine. But do not read your email.

A lot of people do not take Out of Office messages seriously any more because of what I’ve written above. So I will personally add an: “No, seriously, I really am out of the Office…” to my Out of Office message.

Have a nice summer, folks!