Papows pushes portals at customer forum

Lotus Development Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Papows' keynote speech at the Lotus Global Government Forum here yesterday afternoon focused on the importance of Internet portals.

"The operative word for the industry this year is portal," Papows said.

Papows told the audience of the growing importance of portals as a key technology for harnessing knowledge in today's quickly changing business environment. Portals are Web sites that lead to other resources on the Internet.

This year, customers can expect to hear the word "portal" a lot more from Lotus, even if the company won't necessarily change that many actual product features, Papows said. "Lotus is reshaping and redefining -- in some places honestly re-labelling" its products, Papows explained. "We are going to start using the word 'portal' with Domino and Notes."

One area in which Lotus intends to make use of portal technology is in the education market. Distance learning will be an important focus for Lotus in the future, he said. "The cost of ongoing education is staggering," Papows said, and technology can help to bring those costs down.

Papows didn't define the market potential offered by the sale of distance-learning software and infrastructure, but spoke of the money that companies can save by using technology such as Lotus' Learning-Space software. This year more than half of the US spending of $US62 billion for ongoing education will be spent on travelling to training, Papows explained. With distance learning via the Internet, those travelling costs could be saved.

In other market segments as well, portals are important tools for today's businesses, Papows said, because they give users structured access to information across business systems, personalized views into information, and a bridge to help users trying to span rapid changes within today's companies.

The IT industry has changed more in the past three years than in the previous 30, while the Web has changed from being an "inward-directed" corporate tool for harnessing internal business information to an external business tool for selling and communicating with the outside world, he said.

To quantify the rate of change in today's industry, Papows pointed out that this year some 4.7 trillion e-mail messages will be transmitted, more than triple the number of communications that pass through the conventional postal system.

Portals that offer access to information, communities for collaborative uses and expertise by way of a EKP -- an enterprise knowledge portal -- will all be increasingly important in today's sped-up environment. For businesses, such portals will offer a front end to the existing wealth of corporate information; they'll allow for greater use of prepackaged applications as companies have less and less time to customize applications for their users; and they'll offer an affordable distribution channel in these days when PCs are sold in greater volume than TVs.

The market for enterprise information portals should grow to $US14.8 billion in 2002 from $US4.4 billion last year, Papows told government representatives gathered here from 30 countries.

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