What's next for IBM’s enterprise social business

Enterprise Social Solutions GM shares thoughts on Project Toscana, cloud vs. on-premises and more at IBM Connect event

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of cognitive, but we’re taking that conversation and acknowledging that the conversation becomes a destination for a discussion, where a community may not particularly be well served as that destination. There has to be better integration with other ways in which people want to interact, create or share… The Toscana conversation engine itself is a capability not related to unified communication or your social network or your email. We’ve built a conversation engine. We didn’t just go and say, let’s take our Sametime chat engine and put a new user experience on it, because a chat engine doesn’t have the same characteristics as a conversation engine [that includes presence, content sharing and other capabilities]. I see it as an offering but that very much is complementary and enjoys the adjacencies of the other collaboration services. [IBM is still sorting out whether Toscana -- being tested internally now and entering beta mode for external customers in April -- will be embedded in releases of Verse, Connections, etc., offered separately, or both.]

On Watson AI integration with collaboration products

Watson represents a fairly substantial brand now across a diverse set of products. We have as early as the beginning of last year integrated corpuses of knowledge that were encoded within Watson and plugged them into an activity stream, [into mail] or where a discussion was taking place. It’s all off the shelf for us now. The request-reply paradigm is now in place to support information transfer and questions. We’re making it easier and easier to do that. Today we showed the "tone analyzer" [for giving a sender a heads up about the sentiment of a message being crafted]. Watson is actually quite a few different things in cognitive, but in principal you’re doing work that previously only a person did. 

On IBM Verse messaging product

Verse represents the first messaging system that is using true faceted search. We’re using Solr from Apache based upon Lucene. Faceted search allows us to inverse, basically to say gee, I remember I received something related to the budget and I think I received it within the last month and I know it was something with an attachment, and by adding the facets people are finding what they want in their mail in ways that were very tedious before… Also, there’s Important To Me, which we thought was so important we made it pervasive across all of our collaboration capabilities. I don’t think about just date and time: If my boss, head of project management or development, or head of sales or marketing sends me something, those are some of the most important people in my life inside of work, but then at any given time you and I may be working so closely together that you pop up on Important To Me because of analytics… Another example: I can go into an email or calendar invite and say, who’s on this email thread? I absolutely don’t know everyone who is in every meeting on every day [in such a big company as IBM]. Now when that email comes in I click on it and can get either an org chart or social graph of how everyone in the email is connected. There are a hundred things like that. There are improvements that you can make to mail and calendaring that are just so intuitive… Any customer that is leveraging our cloud mail service has the opportunity to use Verse and we have a very large cloud mail service.

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