Lotus enlisted the aid of two Hollywood heroes to lift off its new products at the Lotusphere conference in Orlando last week.
Although forced to admit that Notes Release 5 would be delayed until next month, Lotus CEO Jeff Papows announced that when it does come, it will be marketed by Superman. He then went on to bring Star Wars into the Lotus universe.
Project Yoda is the code name Lotus has given to a new knowledge management server it is developing that will offer companies the opportunity to better use the expertise of individuals within their organisation.
"Yoda deals with providing additional knowledge management around people's expertise and their location within the company and making them as accessible as documents and databases of information," said Papows.
The server is an adjunct to Domino, which will have borderless search capabilities. It is not decided yet whether this will be a standalone product or an addition to Domino. Lotus aims to ship Yoda by the end of the year.
"Organisations need easy access to both information and people, to spend less time searching for resources and more time using them," said Eileen Rudden, senior vice president at Lotus.
However, analyst Matt Cain, vice president of workgroup strategies at the Meta Group, was sceptical. "Knowledge management is a very squishy subject right now," he commented. "It will take a while to communicate what it does, as GroupWise did."
Lotus intends to push its Knowledge Management strategy hard this year and believes its Sametime technology will be central to its success.
"We need something in Email beyond store and forward, a more advanced form of collaboration," said Papows. "An awareness of who is online at any given time."
Some users were puzzled by this, however. "I don't see this working at all," said Sandra Wike, manager of data and technology operations at Armstrong World Industries, a 20,000-strong global business manufacturing vinyl floors. "The Sametime product requires another server and separate server software and there's no way we need any more servers. Also, I am logged on all day to Notes so the system thinks I am at my desk, but it is very probable that I'm in a meeting somewhere else."
However, Wike does believe it could be useful for electronic meetings.
There is support in R5 for instant messaging and H323 support for voice and video, including whiteboarding and object sharing from remote PCs.
R5 is set to ship in February. The marketing campaign will feature Superman and tout Notes as "Superhuman Software".
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