WARNING: This blog post uses the terms “Connect” “ConnectED” and “Lotusphere” interchangeably. I suggest you do your own internal translation as you read.
So Connected is over and the sessions are done. I would say I found it one of the best in years. Certainly the content of the OGS and many of the other IBM sessions started to form a sensible strategy that I think customers can benefit from and for the first time in many many years I came away genuinely excited about the potential for the technology and the degree of innovation taking place. Vague enough for you? I’m sorry, I’ll get into detail in a little bit.
There was a lot of negative emotion understandably about this being the last Orlando conference (not officially but c’mon) but that aside it’s nice to hear IBM dial back on the CLOUD CLOUD and instead talk more about hybrid and mixed on-premises designs because I honestly believe that is the direction the majority of companies are heading.
So leaving aside the incremental improvements (TLS 1.2, critical view indexing, whiteboarding in mobile, video on smartphone, file transfer via mobile) and trying to put my thoughts into some kind of order let’s start with…
IBM’s new mail client seeks to innovate and re-imagine how we work with mail. I’m an engineer so when I use those words I don’t use them as marketing speak but in their real sense. The good news is that IBM are really on the right track here, focusing on design and using working “type” personas such as “the searcher”, “the on the go worker”, and “the assistant” to create ways to customise and interact.
The even better news is that there will continue to be a NSF database and therefore a Domino server underneath the hood. Right now Verse is going to be cloud-only but we are promised an on-premises solution in the 2nd half of 2015. Obviously one of the most powerful aspects of Verse utilises analytics and links to Watson allowing the client to make decisions for you and present the best and most important information to you all the time based on your previous behaviour and content. I’m fairly sure we aren’t getting Watson on premises so it will be interesting how the integration will work but I can wait to see that.
In the meantime that NSF architecture extends your client choices from Notes, iNotes and Traveler to Verse, Notes, iNotes and Traveler and reassures existing customers they are on the right path.
There is a great website on Verse with demos of how it works and an explanation of the personas I highly recommend you read and sign up for the beta.
From my perspective this is by some way the most exciting direction in enterprise mail from any provider in as long as I can remember. IBM are talking heavily about a freemium license and driving everyone to the cloud but I file that under ‘marketing wishful thinking’ and wait and see. Right now my concern is the technology and that looks right.
Connections continues to be central to IBM’s social strategy, with v5 CR2 due out any day now and Connections Next due this year. IBM continues to add new features and invest in the desktop and mobile clients. It’s important to remember that things branded as “Connections” are often an interface to another product via Connections. For example Connections Content Manager adds Filenet integration, Connections Mail adds Domino or Exchange integration, Connections Chat adds Sametime integration, etc. In 2015 we are told to expect more user customisation of Connections, such as the ability to create and synchronise folders and create, name and secure chat threads.
It’s interesting to see the investment in design carrying through to the new Connections next interface which has removed the emphasis on moving between applications like “Wikis” , “Blogs” and “Activities” and replaced this with a more cohesive experience around a single homepage showing what is most important to you (what you are working on, and what those you follow / network with are doing). I wish I had photos of this and apologies that I don’t, I took some but was too far away from the stage for them to be any good. We have said for some time that the “apps” menus make Connections seem too fragmented and it appears IBM are listening.
Once more, on-premises will be at least 6 months behind cloud as new features arrive but I’ve decided they can work out the bugs in the cloud before we install on premises 🙂
I always enjoy hearing from the IBM Mobile team who in the past few years have been very open to feedback and suggestions from customers and business partners. One of the things that has come up time and again is the need for a single mobile client to handle mail, connections, chat, etc, instead of the individual clients we currently have and it looks like they have listened and produced that in the upcoming Verse client (initially iOS but then Android). I’m sure it’s going to be cloud only initially but hope to see it support on premises when that becomes available towards the end of 2015.
So where does that leave customers? If you are running Domino, Notes, Connections, Sametime (renamed as Connections Chat — euch) and are on-premises then you’re in a good place. I think the path for most companies will end up being entirely on-premises or a cloud / on-premise hybrid with some commodity services in the cloud and business applications on premises. At least as far as I can see.
What do I do next ? Well that’s for the next blog…