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Lotus working in real time

The IBM unit details more of its collaboration strategy and its overarching knowledge management agenda.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts--Lotus Development detailed more of its real-time collaboration strategy here today, including how it will incorporate real-time messaging into its new education and training product line and where the technology fits into its overarching knowledge management agenda.

By the second half of this year, the IBM subsidiary will debut a new real-time learning product line, code-named LearningSpace Live that integrates DataBeam Learning Server, its Domino Server-based LearningSpace learning software, and the recently announced Sametime technology for an online real-time training product, according to Lotus.

The company is adding real-time technology to allow users to conduct instant messaging and chat within its Notes and Domino groupware applications.

As reported earlier, DataBeam was acquired by Lotus in May, along with another real-time software maker Ubique.

Code-named LearningSpace Live, the new package will comprise LearningSpace 2.6, now in beta, and DataBeam's Learning Server 2.0, which includes a virtual classroom environment, making it easier for instructors to deliver remote presentations, share applications, and tour Web sites with participating students. The new product also will include features like "hand-raising", Q&A and "chat" for interaction between teacher and pupil.

"We are very excited about distance learning," said Michael Zisman, executive vice president of strategy at Lotus. Combining LearningSpace and the newly acquired technology from DataBeam will strengthen Lotus's position in the market space, he added.

Zisman detailed the new product line as part of a half-day session outlining of its collaboration and knowledge management strategy before analysts and members of the press.

Executives from Lotus and its parent IBM explained how the two are working together to provide a system for corporations to transform unstructured information from various sources--the Web, back-office applications, databases--into client applications for making business decisions.

The companies noted they are trying to help companies on the Notes/Domino architecture to maximize their investment in the area of knowledge management.

Zisman used the new family of LearningSpace products bolstered by Sametime technologies as an example of this effort. In order to win in the collaborative market, he said, "you need to have both asynchronous email and synchronous Sametime," offerings, "not [just] one or the other."

IBM general manager Janet Perna was on hand to explain how Lotus and its parent company are building products that mesh existing and future technologies together.

"Business intelligence is the process of collecting, transforming, analyzing, and distributing data for better decision-making," she said.

Big Blue used the event to debut a product called the IBM Knowledge Utility, due later this year or early in 1999, according to Perna. The product displays a visual representation of choices available to a user to access information stored in databases and other data sources.

Lotus also said the final version of Domino.Doc 2.0 will be in shelves next week. As reported earlier, Domino.Doc 2.0, code-named Rainier, features improved built-in workflow and archiving along with support for third-party applications and a new imaging client, code-named Skylight.