IBM announces social network-style email service for businesses

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IBM want employees to share interests and form groups

IBM has used its Connect 2014 conference in California to unveil an enterprise-focused email service, called Mail Next.

Part of IBM's software-as-a-service (SaaS) social business collection, it's available both on-premise and via the cloud, reports ITWorldCanada.

The service combines IBM's mail, meetings, chat and content management systems and creates single hubs for businesses where members can interact.

In these hubs, employees can send and receive email and create groups based on shared interests or projects in something akin to Google Plus' "circles" feature.

Mail Next helps employees navigate and manage inbox overload through task-focused analytics, according to the company. Employees can use abilities, for example, that can mute mail that doesn't need their attention straight away, setting it aside for later viewing.

Collaboration is the key

However, IBM is not taking a step into the consumer email market, as Google or Yahoo did.

According to Scott Hebner, IBM vice-president of social business, Mail Next will be available only to small and medium businesses and large enterprises. The ability to control the accounts in your businesses own way is what makes it different to consumer mail products, he added.

The New York-based firm may not be a dominant force in email but it is trying to promote the creation of social businesses that make use of collaboration tools. A beta of Mail Next is tipped to be available in the first half of this year.