On average, we check our mailbox about 36 times an hour. We spend an unnecessary amount of time answering and classifying mails. Last year, neuropsychiatrist Theo Compernolle surveyed a thousand managers to find out how much time they spend on their daily tasks. One in two said that they were no longer able to think at the office. Half of the respondents were able to focus 45 minutes on the same task no more than twice a week. For fifteen per cent, this was once a day, for yet another fifteen per cent never. We are no longer doing what we are being paid to do: using our brains. And the mailbox is one of the biggest culprits.
IBM recognises the necessary evil of the mailbox and decided to reinvent the entire email concept. The result is Verse, a platform that allows employees within an organisation to work and communicate more efficiently with each other via a social email environment.
The mailbox is dead, long live the mailbox!
In a traditional email programme, the stream of emails arrives in an unstructured manner. After a couple of hours, many can no longer see the wood for the trees and teach themselves the wrong habit of checking their mailbox for new information repeatedly, every hour. The designers of Verse have consigned this principle to the bin. The platform suggests which senders are important to the user. Not only will he see at a glance which important contacts have sent new messages; in future versions, Verse will also provide a graphic representation of how many unread emails a user has received from his management, customers or colleagues. In the future, Verse will even be able to rank emails by priority based on their content.
Suppose someone asks you a question in an email, and you don’t know the answer yourself but CC someone who does. Chances are that you will end up in a question-answer session you don’t want to be involved in at all. Verse will offer the option to hide this irrelevant mail thread, allowing the user to focus on only the information he needs to do his work.
Searching for information with the same ease as buying a pair of shoes online
The basic principle behind the Verse design team’s approach is that every action, ranging from sending an email, chatting, video conferencing and file sharing to calendar management, should take no more than two clicks to perform. One of the results is called faceted searching. This means that users can find information in their mailbox with the same ease as buying a pair of shoes online. You select a pair of shoes based on size, colour or type. It is the same with Verse. Users can search for information based on a number of parameters, such as subject, sender or date. This allows them to find information more quickly and in a more targeted manner, without having to scroll through a huge list of emails. The same goes for searching for URLs or attachments. Verse offers the option to find URLs and attachments in one click without having to search every email.
When do you have a minute today? A question many employees are asked several times a day. They subsequently open their calendar and start looking for a suitable time slot. Verse turns this principle around and displays employees’ free time slots on a central dashboard, allowing the other staff members to see at a glance when they can schedule a meeting.
I am on holiday. Could Watson help?
In the future, the designers of Verse want to integrate Watson into the system. As a result, every employee in a company will be able to count on assistance from the smartest computing system in the world. In the future, Watson will be able to schedule meetings or check emails for tone of voice. Suppose a manager asks an employee to do something that he actually has no time for. Many employees would have a tendency to respond in a negative or curt manner. Watson recognises this tone of voice and will suggest a positive, diplomatic alternative. And that’s not all.
Today, when someone sends an email or asks a question on the social company network to a customer or colleague who is on holiday, the conversation ends with an out-of-office notification. Consequently, people lack crucial information to carry on their work or have to wait for the colleague or customer in question to return. This can be done better. In time, Watson will make a suggestion if he thinks he knows the answer to a question – even when the contact person is on holiday. To do this, Watson uses all the data available within the organisation. This enables employees to continue working together regardless of the holiday periods of their colleagues, customers or suppliers. Whenever someone likes Watson’s answer, the confidence percentage increases for the next person asking the same question.
Email is one of the most important changes in the workplace in the last thirty years. At the same time, it has become one of the biggest organisational burdens. The design team behind Verse has developed the platform to make email functional again, instead of an organisational burden. Will we all soon make our mailbox work for us instead of the other way around?
Top 10 features
- See instantly which tasks others still have to do for you
- Hide useless email threads
- Faceted searching – searching for information in your mailbox in a targeted way, with the same ease as buying a pair of shoes online
- Ask Watson – in the future, Watson will probably be able to schedule meetings, check emails for the right tone of voice and give an answer to any possible question
- Seamless integration with IBM Connections Cloud
- Overview of all URLs and attachments people have shared
- Instantly post interesting information from your inbox on a blog in the cloud
- Team analytics – know instantly what role a contact person has within an organisation
- Share on sending – no longer send attachments but automatically upload the file to the cloud when sending an email
- Location awareness – Verse displays the time zone a contact person works in so the user instantly sees when he can expect an answer to a mail
Register now for Verse: http://www.ibm.com/social-business/us/en/newway/