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The big guns of software want to close out 2014 with an email splash.

Microsoft launched its email-improver offering last week. Google earlier released its beefed-up Gmail.

It's IBM's turn today. For months, Big Blue had been showing off a new email service under the code name of "Mail Next."

Today, the company takes the blindfold off and makes it official with IBM Verse -- an offering officials say revolutionizes email by using analytics and social capabilities to simply make email more efficient. IBM Verse culminates a $100 million investment in design innovation and brings together cloud, analytics, social and security platforms "to transform the future of work."

Tops the Other Guys

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Microsoft and Google are definitely on IBM's radar in this space.

Jeff Schick, general manager for IBM's Enterprise Social Solutions division, told CMSWire in an interview Monday that IBM's done a "substantial comparison" between the IBM Verse, Microsoft Clutter and Google Inbox.

He called the competitors' releases "minor incremental improvements" compared to "what we've been able to accomplish with analytics and mobile, social capabilities."

Microsoft and Google, Schick added, are "certainly not moving in a way where there's one-click access to people, topics, groups and information. One click to mute a thread and remove the clutter. One click to preview a document easily. One click to move a thread seamlessly into a social network. One click to see who you're meeting with or who's on a thread."

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IBM Verse users are able to sequence what's important in email and what should be brought to the "forefront of the experience."

"Those guys are just not moving in that way," Schick said of Microsoft and Google. "And they've certainly not made email actionable in terms of what needs action and what's waiting on action and how seamlessly one is able to do that."

Social Meets Email

Email's been a hot topic lately. Some want to get rid of it in favor of other social collaboration tools. Others say it's here to stay.

IBM here tries to combine the best of social with email -- with visuals like headshots of colleagues on the top of the email home page with actions flagged for them. They call it an "at-a-view" glance at what's happening and what users' critical actions are for that day. Users can see how someone on an email is connected to them in the organization.

And with "faceted search," IBM Verse users can pinpoint and retrieve specific information.

"Making email actionable is a major tenet to what we've done," Schick told CMSWire.

Hello, Watson

Clients using IBM Verse can also embed an IBM Watson analytics feature into their collaboration environment, which enables users to "query Watson on a given topic and receive a direct reply with answers ranked by degree of confidence," according to IBM officials.

"With IBM Verse, we challenged our design teams to use analytics to completely reimagine the social collaboration experience to focus on engaging people and driving outcomes, not managing messages and inboxes," Bob Picciano, senior vice president for IBM's Information and Analytics Group, said in a statement. 

IBM Verse runs on IBM's SoftLayer Cloud with enterprise-grade security. IBM officials say a beta release will be available to select clients and partners this month. A freemium version delivered via the IBM Cloud Marketplace will be available in the first quarter of 2015. IBM Verse will also be offered as an app for both iOS and Android. 

Title image by Jhayne  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.