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IBM ConnectED 2015: A New Way to Engage with Digital Experiences

Jeff Schick opened this year’s IBM ConnectED conference talking about “A New Way to Engage,” which is IBM’s theme for this conference. He talked about how IBM has developed new ways to engage over the past year.  He talked about Watson, IBM’s cloud businesses, their new agreement with Apple and more initiatives. This year is the 25th anniversary of IBM Notes, and they have a new way to engage with email called IBM Verse.

IBM Verse is an evolution of email that claims to be a new way to work. Look for a Super Bowl ad from IBM about this. They want to take on Gmail and are offering a freemium version of Verse. A lot of announcements about Verse will be coming out this week, including its official launch tomorrow.

IBM Verse

Moving on to the IBM Digital Experience, Gary Dolsen spoke next. The focus is now on cloud, experience management, and compelling content, IBM expects significant growth in the Digital Experience market.

In December, IBM announced Digital Experience for Cloud. This brings the Digital Experience systems to a fully managed cloud solution to quickly deploy digital transformation efforts.

For the future, IBM is making investments in tools and integration with marketing, commerce and mobile applications.

Mohamed Marfouk spoke for Louis Vuitton about how they use the latest technologies to stay connected to their customers. Louis Vuitton is a huge multi-brand company.  They have created a portfolio of competing brands in many different lines and markets.  At the corporate level, they need to support the competition between brands, and find ways where they can collaborate.  Mohamed said that they fully expect customers to access their web and mobile properties before they ever go to a retail location.  They have turned to IBM Cloud for their internal collaboration environment.

Back to IBM Verse. IBM demo’ed Verse and talked about its integration with Watson.  Watson provides search services and personal assistance services.  On the search side, Verse includes faceted search so you can easily filter your mail.  As a personal assistant, you can send requests to Watson, who will then parse the request and take action. IBM showed an example of requesting a meeting by entering text like “Please schedule a meeting with Jim, Dave and Tom for next Tuesday.”

Verse on the IBM Cloud will be available at the end of Q1.  The freemium model will be available at the same time. Early access is available in February for certain customers. On Premise Verse will be available in the 2nd Quarter. Verse doesn’t replace the Lotus Notes client, so that is still available.  IBM Domino applications will be able to run on IBM Bluemix in the 2nd half of 2015.

IBM Connections Next was next on the demo stage. Luis Benitez showed the new Connections home page that is much cleaner and informative over existing version. Connections and Verse can be tightly integrated so that mail and calendar are integrated right into the Connections UI.  Watson is also available in Connections to provide answers to questions, manage alerts and more.

IBM is also adding Connections Files capabilities into IBM Bluemix. This will open a whole new way of creating cloud applications that integrate with Connections.

IBM will offer a standalone File Share and File Sync capability in Q1. This will compete directly with Box, Dropbox and similar services.

Alice Raia of Blue Shield of California talked about how they use IBM’s Digital Experience platforms. They found 50% adoption rates and user satisfaction increase 21%.  They plan to take advantage of personalization for member experiences.

Robin Wright and Nicole Carrier showed off the IBM Digital Experience platform. Nicole showed new features that enable responsive design and layouts while building page content. A new slider allows you to view the page in different formats so you can tailor it for mobile, tablet and desktop sizes quickly.

Watson is coming to Digital Experience too. A Watson powered language translation capability in IBM BlueMix can be used to translated content was you enter it into the content manager system.

Digital Experience will focus enhancements on cloud, mobile, and persuasive content in 2015.

Philippe Petit was the last speaker. Philippe is a world renowned high wire walker. He famously walked a high wire between the World Trade Center towers in New York in 1974. He described in a very theatrical way how he first stepped on the wire that day – it was a very dramatic moment.  He spoke about the passion, tenacity, intuition, and inspiration that has driven him throughout his career.

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Mark Polly

Mark Polly is Perficient's Chief Strategist for Customer Experience Platforms. He works to create great customer, partner, and employee experiences. Mark specializes in web content management, portal, search, CRM, marketing automation, customer service, collaboration, social networks, and more.

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