IBM calls time on Slack-rival Watson Workspace

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Team chat app failed to resonate with users

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18 January 2019 | 0

IBM has decided to end support for its Watson Workspace team chat app, citing a lack of customer traction.

The decision follows the sale of IBM’s software assets –  including legacy collaboration applications such as IBM Notes, Domino and Connections – to Indian technology services provider HCL for $1.8 billion in December.

A preview of Watson Workspace, announced in 2016, touted  IBM Watson’s cognitive computings capabilities. Watson’s AI underpinned features such as Workspace Moments, which promised to reduce the noise of collaboration by summarizing posts within the chat app.

However, it struggled to gain adoption amid a booming and highly-competitive team collaboration market dominated by the likes of Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat, Cisco Webex Teams and others.

“While there is no question that Watson Workspace is innovative and agile, it hasn’t resonated with clients or obtained the traction in the marketplace necessary for IBM to continue forward with the service,” IBM said in a statement on the Watson Workspace website.

“Despite our best efforts and enthusiasm for these offerings, our decision to withdraw them aligns to IBM’s investment strategy focused on delivering solutions that deliver measurable value to our customers and business partners,” the company said.

IBM has stopped accepting new orders for Watson Workspace, and expects to end the service for both free and paid customers on 28 February. The company said it is now working with customers on migration and will provide a tool to download and save conversations and content held in the app.

A spokesperson said IBM “continues to prioritise investments in high-value segments of the IT industry,” such as “AI for business, hybrid cloud, cybersecurity, analytics, supply chain and blockchain as well as industry-specific cognitive platforms and solutions including healthcare, industrial IoT, and financial services.”

Watson Workspace offered a free tier – alongside paid Plus and Essentials options – that can be difficult to convert to paid subscriptions and may have been an unattractive business model for IBM, which has prioritized other areas of its business.

IBM is not the first big-name tech vendor to discontinue its team chat app. Last year, Atlassian announced the sale of its Stride app to Slack; Stride will be discontinued as of mid-February.

IDG News Service

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