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Lotus tight-lipped on reorganization plans

Executives avoid discussing details of the company's internal reorganization during a conference and instead promote details about products.

Lotus executives avoided discussing details of the company's internal reorganization during its annual conference, instead sticking to details about its knowledge management, application hosting and wireless markets plans.

Questions about details of plans to restructure the company, described in an e-mail sent to some employees by CEO Al Zollar, have been met with a wall of silence from company executives.

Executives at a press conference Tuesday did not comment on any specifics of the reorganization, saying only that Lotus has always made decisions to be in a position to meet business needs.

The company did unveil Lotus Discovery Server, a content search technology that enables users to locate and display Web connections between people, content and other information, as well as link workers across a network using instant messaging, e-mail, WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and other technologies.

The new software, due to ship in March, is the final product offering coming from the in-house project code-named Raven, which includes software that lets users collaborate on content, acquire materials, approve purchase orders and schedule meetings across a far-flung network of PCs, PDAs, cell phones, Web portals and Lotus Notes.

"This is the second part of our Raven product," said Ken Bisconti, vice president of marketing for messaging and collaborative software at Lotus.

Combined with Lotus' K-Station, which enables office workers to access, manage and share business information stored in databases and other content sources through a single interface, Discovery Server completes what Lotus calls the Lotus Discovery System.

The new server software "fills out the Lotus knowledge management product line," Burton Group analyst Jim Kobieleus said. "The significance of this type of searching capability is that Microsoft doesn't have it in its knowledge management" product offering.

The company also announced Lotus Collaboration Services, which Lotus will offer to host a group of applications and services for a fee through two methods. Under the first, businesses could subscribe to a single package of applications, like instant messaging, electronic meetings and online workspaces.

The second option is a pay-as-you-go plan in which Lotus would host specific applications and services--such as instant messaging or instant e-meetings--as embedded links in their business office portals, customer-relationship management software and other applications.

Lotus also announced a family of mobile and wireless software that allows people to access business information stored in their Lotus Domino servers from their Palm devices, mobile phones and other handheld devices using WAP. The Domino Everyplace Access server, available later this year, will provide integration with Domino administration and directories as well as wireless access to e-mail, calendars and directories.