Lotus has instructed its developers to create tools that will enhance the online buying experience for businesses.
At its DevCon developers show taking place in San Francisco this week, the IBM unit will encourage its developers to create applications that bring workflow and instant messaging technologies to electronic trading exchanges.
Bart Lautenbach, group marketing manager for applications development at Lotus, said: "There are inefficiencies in today's ecommerce solutions. Figures from Giga say 10 per cent of shopping carts [in business-to-consumer transactions] are abandoned because of bad customer support, and this could be higher for B2B because it's more complex and there are a lot more people involved."
He believes there is a lack of facilities that enable trading partners to communicate in existing e-marketplaces because systems have so far only concentrated on the transaction aspect of commerce.
At the show, Lotus will demonstrate version 2.0 of Same Time, its instant messaging application that supports real-time audio and video. The product enables participants of B2B transactions to communicate with each other, and allows for real-time messaging and applications sharing. The latest version will be available in the autumn.
Also on show will be version 2.0 of QuickPlace, Lotus's teamware software that enables documents to be shared by virtual work mates. Documents are placed in a central repository on the web and use instant messaging techniques to enable participants to chat with each other in real time. The product also enables teams to share project plans and calendar information, and includes workflow facilities to help update discussion plans.
Lotus will also demonstrate version 2.1 of Domino Workflow that adds support for 17 different languages, plus a distance learning module for real-time collaborative learning.
The company is intending to bundle Domino with WebSphere, IBM's ecommerce development environment, but a fully integrated version, that will enable single sign-on and support a common object request broker, is not expected until the fourth quarter of this year.
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