Lotus introduced a new type of Internet-based collaboration software called Sametime at Comdex today.
Jeff Papows, Lotus' president and chief executive, said in his keynote speech in Las Vegas this morning that Sametime provided the instant messaging functionality of such products as AOL Instant Messenger, but combined them with traditional ?asynchronous? collaboration software such as Lotus? own Notes.
?We will move by the end of the year to a concurrent model of asynchronous and synchronous communication,? he added.
Sametime is based on technology that Lotus acquired along with Ubique earlier this year.
The product creates what Lotus calls ?awareness? of other users - for example, when users read an e-mail from someone, they can immediately see whether or not the person is currently online.
They can also see whether the author of a particular document, or a person mentioned in the document, can be reached at once or not. Using the inbuilt chat and realtime messaging features, customers can then immediately strike up an online conversation with the person ? while sharing documents or using a whiteboard.
Sametime makes use of standards such as the T.120 document sharing standard, enabling interoperability with, for example, Microsoft NetMeeting.
Users can also set up a ?watch list? of co-workers, enabling them to see instantly who is online and available for communication.
This type of technology will make ?knowledge management? more than just a buzzword, Papows claimed.
Realtime online collaboration can increase innovation and speed up a business?s responsiveness, he continued, claiming that, thanks to Internet-based knowledge management, Courier Publishing managed to bring out a book on Mother Theresa five days after she died. This would usually take six to eight weeks.
Sametime will be integrated with Lotus Notes and Domino, but will also be sold as a stand-alone product. The offering comprises a server portion that runs on an NT server, and a client that runs on Windows 95/98/NT.
The product will ship by the end of the year, and a preview version is now available for download from Lotus?s Web site.
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