IBM has entered the enterprise email market with the launch of IBM Verse, a service the company claims gives enterprise customers, small businesses, and individuals a scalable, social collaboration tool that lives on the cloud and is optimized for mobile and web environments.

Verse combines the various ways employees connect each day, including email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social updates, video chats, and more, and is the first messaging system to feature 'faceted search', a technique that lets users pinpoint and retrieve specific information they're seeking across all the various types of content within their email.

The service is intelligent enough to analyze, and even predict, user behavior and preferences, and uses built-in analytics to provide an intuitive, 'at-a-glance' UI that intelligently surfaces an individual's most critical actions for the day.

Verse also allows sharing of content in the form of blog posts rather than email, share files through cloud-based communities, visualize employee profiles, understand relationships between individuals and teams, and more effectively track and manage project and task delegation. 

"We came at this from the perspective that this is about changing the game, not just incremental improvements in e-mail", said Jeff Schick, IBM's general manager of social solutions.

IBM is not a newcomer in the field; its Notes enterprise mail service is already used by 25,000 companies worldwide, but the company hopes that its latest offering will eventually replace Microsoft Outlook.

IBM Verse is launching as a limited beta this month, available to select enterprise clients and partners, followed by a freemium version which will be available to individuals in the first quarter of 2015. The service will also be offered as an app for both iOS and Android platforms.