There's no question that email has accelerated workplace productivity since taking root in the 1980s - but at the same time, e-mail's also become one of the biggest time wasters we have to deal with. We scan through all our messages, searching for those that require our attention - we even dive into the 'Junk' folder, just in case something important slipped through by mistake.
For years, email was like the weather; everyone talked about it, but no one did anything about it. That all changed when IBM created Verse. In a recent podcast discussion, IBM Verse UX Designer M.E. (Mary Elizabeth) Miller and IBM Design, Enterprise Social Solutions Senior Design Team Lead Duncan Hopkins discussed how integrating social and analytics in a cloud-based application helped them design Verse and revolutionize email, whilst also establishing inclusively tools for people of all ages and ability.
Focused on People, Not Files
Human-centered design is at the heart of IBM Design Thinking, a set of standards that allow IBM designers and developers to collaborate with each other - across the globe - using the same practices, processes, and design language.
Instead of viewing an email application as little more than a bunch of containers for emails, IBM designers approached Verse by examining how people work and considering what they could do to make their workday more productive and less stressful.
In addressing the needs of a workforce that's increasingly comprised of social natives, from the beginning, Verse was established as social by nature.
Convergence of Email, Enterprise Social, Collaboration, and Communication Tools
IBM designers recognized the challenges that email, enterprise social, collaboration software and other communication tools had all evolved from - the need to communicate and work together, quickly and efficiently. As such, they designed Verse to integrate all of these functions into one cloud-based application that looks and works the same on a desktop, smartphone, or tablet.
They also added analytics and cognitive technology to help users find what they need, when they need it.
Here are some of the ways Verse changes the way we work:
- Verse analyzes how you use email to determine which messages are most important to you. Those messages are surfaced to your screen, so you don't have to go searching for them
- Verse knows which people you interact with the most, so it brings photos of those people to the surface, making it easier for you to interact with them
- Throughout the day, a timeline of your scheduled activities scrolls across the bottom of the screen
- If you need to be in a video meeting, simply click the item in your timeline and you're in
- All of Verse's display options can be customized directly by each user
- Verse makes it easier to "connect from me to we"
Focus on Everyone
Human-centered design means that it's inclusive, because it's designed for everyone, regardless of age or ability. With Verse, the person who's color blind or can't use a mouse doesn't need a different version - they use the same software, which takes any assistive devices they may need into account.
In discussing the expectations all users should have of Verse, M.E. said this in the podcast, "They expect things to work similarly and together, and they're expecting great experiences across devices. In designing social software for the enterprise, we have to take all of that into consideration".
Considering how difficult managing email has been for so long, IBM truly has taken a revolutionary approach with Verse. Hear the full explanation on the podcast.
On This Social Business Engine Podcast Episode You'll Discover
- How IBM Verse brings email, social and analytics into a single collaborative environment
- Why IBM's Design motto is: "Works the same. Works together. Works for me"
- How IBM Design Thinking utilizes three core elements: Hills, Sponsor Users, and Playbacks
- How IBM arrives at their outcomes through a cross-discipline team of people, practices, and places
Featured On This Episode of the Social Business Engine Podcast
- IBM Design on Twitter
- IBM Accessibility on Twitter
- IBM Design's website
- IBM Accessibility's website
- IBM Verse's website
- The Forrester case study: IBM Builds a Design-Driven Culture at Scale
- M.E. Miller's personal website
- M.E. Miller on Twitter
- Duncan Hopkins' personal website
- Duncan Hopkins on Twitter
- Download Social Business Journal Vol. 6: Inclusive Design in a Cognitive Era
- Subscribe to the Social Business Engine podcast show
- Write a review of this podcast in iTunes
- Bernie Borges on Twitter: @bernieborges
- Social Business Engine on Twitter: @sbengine