Yesterday IBM formally launched Watson Workspace as a general availability product. Anyone can now sign up for the free version, previously you needed an invitation. But the interesting part is the enterprise version Workspace Essentials, with features for security and control needed in that kind of environment. There you can also create and manage guest accounts, and you get 20 GB storage per user, compared with 1 GB for the free version. Another difference is the access to support. The free version uses online forums while Workspace Essentials has support and offers SLA. The cost for Workspace Essentials is $6 per user and month, somewhat less for large number of users.
There are a number of ways you can use Watson Workspace. Access through a browser (except Internet Explorer) or on your phone (Android, iOS). There are also native clients, both for Mac and Windows, built using Electron, just like Slack. The desktop app is fast and the user interface is nice and clean.
So what makes IBM Watson Workspace different from other group messaging software like Slack or Microsoft Teams? The answer is Watson and cognative technology. I have been using Watson Workspace for several months, and one of the features I like the most is called Moments, the ability to get a summary of all the messages I missed while I was away so I can catch up quicker. It has been working really well for me. Watson analyzes the messages, group them together by subject and decides what the most important parts are, and display that to me. I can then expand and see more if I like.
Just like in Slack you can add apps to Watson Workspace. The number of apps available now at the launch is very limited, but I would expect many more to be available in the future. Among the apps available are IFTTT and a connection to Slack. In Workspace Essentials there are also apps for IBM Connections and Microsoft Outlook email.
As you expect there is file and image sharing as well as presence indicators. But there is also one (or two, depending on how you see it) missing function. As of now you can’t edit or delete a message. This is however something IBM says is at the top of the list for the next iteration, in the near future.
Watson Workspace has a public API, and if you are a developer you can write your own bots or other tools that integrates with the software. You use Watson Work Services for this.
So will I replace Slack with Watson Workspace? Not fully, as I use Slack to communicate with a number of people today. But I will continue to run Watson Workspace, and probably expand my use. The Moment function is addicting, I really miss it when I use Slack and need to catch up on perhaps hundreds of messages in some channels.
Well done, IBM.