IBM's Verse: Can Watson ultimately be your inbox jockey?

IBM's reinvented email and collaboration software, dubbed Verse, comes with a Watson option where you can ask a question and get an email answer. Here's what I'd really want Watson to do for me.

NEW YORK---IBM on Tuesday launched Verse, a new approach to email that melds collaboration, social, analytics and compelling design, but the real importance may be as a conduit to use Watson technology.

Big Blue's Verse, which launches in limited beta Nov. 25 with general availability in early 2015, aims to use analytics to make email more productive. After all, the average worker checks the inbox 36 times an hour with only 14 percent of emails deemed critically important. IBM deployed design thinking to rethink the interface to better empathize with the end user. 

According to Jeff Schick, general manager of IBM Enterprise Social Solutions, says the promise of Verse is "mail that understands you." The idea is to create software that allows large global teams to collaborate at scale like those two-pizza small teams enterprises use to actually get things done,  added  Phil Gilbert, general manager of IBM Design.


The best way to get to that mail understanding is to deploy Watson better. Verse will have a Watson Analytics option. The option includes the ability to ask Watson a question and get an email reply with an answer. Today, Watson will be an up sell to the freemium Verse.

Let's take that a step further now it's clear that Watson will co-mingle with Verse as a long-term strategy. How about I use Watson to respond to every email that's not critical? How about Watson knows what pitches I'd like and deflect the rest? What if Watson could just give me a few bullets on what I need to pay attention to? How about a quick reply to the person that was just added to a team and now I have 400 welcome emails in my inbox?

And better yet. What if Watson could tell me who was a waste of time before I even knew it? Now that's real predictive analytics. Data is seen as a budding natural resource. The more data we have the more time becomes a more valuable natural resource. The enterprise software company that buys me more time wins. 

Analytics are fun, but I'd rather have Watson as a technology to outsource email, low level collaboration and social engagement. The real future of work is ditching the 86 percent of messaging that's useless to me in the day-to-day. If Watson really had his game on, I'd never have to lie about whether I saw your email. Truth be told I just ignored the damn thing, but Watson could serve as a proxy for me.

IBM executives said that organizations should be seen as algorithms that need new approaches to work. Execs used a lot of "D" words with its Verse talk. Verse is for generation data. Verse will disrupt. The real win for Verse would be if it can really relieve another D word: Deluge.