IT Factory to build collaborative application group

Acquisition-hungry IT Factory Inc. last week added knowledge management vendor Synergistics Inc. to the list of companies it has snapped up in the past year, as it tries to position itself as the leader in providing collaborative applications for Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange.

The company plans to integrate Synergistics's Authoriti knowledge management software into its ITF Business suite, a group of collaborative applications, and ITF Development Kit, a set of tools for building collaborative applications.

The integrated products are expected to be available in the fall, according to company officials.

Terms of the deal were not announced but it is the sixth acquisition the company has made in the past year as it tries to build a comprehensive suite of collaborative applications around Notes and Exchange.

With the Synergistics deal, IT Factory says it doesn't want to create another knowledge management system but instead, to incorporate it into applications so that it becomes just another feature. The company wants to by-pass the retraining and culture shift that must happen to get end-users to begin using knowledge management, which loosely defined is a way to catalog, index and retrieve information scatter throughout an organization.

"We want to make knowledge management pervasive and transparent," says Lars Johansen, president and CEO of IT Factory. "Knowledge management should be a part of the user interface of an application. It has to be an integrated part of the way you already do your business."

Consulting firm the Meta Group describes that concept as "in-context collaboration", where users do not have to leave the applications they are currently working in and open a second application to complete some task.

Meta predicts applications that fit the in-context model will drive adoption of collaborative systems.

IT Factory plans to make its in-context interface either Notes or Exchange clients. The company is the largest Lotus Business Partner, and in April acquired Enterprise Communications and Messaging Solutions (ECMS), one of the leading developers of collaboration and messaging software for the Exchange platform.

The company doesn't plan to compete with Lotus's Discovery Server or Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server, the knowledge management platforms from those vendors.

Johansen says IT Factory will integrate with those platforms. Synergistics has a suite of knowledge management products, including Authoriti, Prevail Knowledge Manager and Prevail Enterprise. The products help enterprises gather, organize and integrate data from internal and external sources and make that data available to end-users.

IT Factory will focus on Authoriti as the front-end to its applications, which include sales force automation, customer service, electronic commerce and project management.

As part of this acquisition, IT Factory will inherit 50 employees and gain a consulting organization.

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