LOTUSPHERE: Papows unveils Raven

Lotus Development president and chief executive officer Jeff Papows yesterday promised the Goliaths of industry a tool for competing against more nimble Davids -- Internet startups -- in the battle for electronic commerce supremacy.

Code-named Raven, Papows in his keynote address here at the Lotusphere conference billed the forthcoming product offering as the collaborative software industry's first knowledge management suite, but did not say when it will be available.

The software package will consist of a portal, what he called a "discovery engine", as well as an "expertise location" application. Key to the new product will be Lotus' Sametime instant messaging application, which will be more fully integrated into its core Notes/Domino collaborative software, Papows added.

These features will help users locate the right expertise, content and communities or places on a corporate intranet or the Internet. "Expertise location is going to be the killer application of the knowledge management era," said Papows.

Managing and using the huge resources that many large, or so-called traditional companies already have, is key to their competiveness, said Papows. Lotus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM.

Comparing toy retailer Toys R Us to eToys, which sells solely over the Internet, Papows made the point that although Toys R Us revenue far exceeds that of eToys, the Internet-based retailer has a far larger market capalisation. "E-business is a huge opportunity but a potent threat to traditional companies," he added.

Economies of scale now actually work against companies in the Internet economy, but Raven will help larger companies to compete with more agile Internet start-up companies, said Papows. Traditional companies have become large, complex global organisations that are hard to manage, he said.

Papows positioned the new Raven software as a set a products that will enable traditional companies to make the transition to become competitive in e-commerce. "Traditional businesses are crossing the e-line with knowledge management as the key enabler," said Papows.

In the core collaboration software market, Papows said, the market has consolidated around Lotus and Microsoft with all other players' share positions declining. According to International Data figures, Lotus holds 41.6 percent of the collaborative software, or groupware market, while Microsoft owns 34 percent of the market, Papows said.

There are currently 46 million Lotus Notes/Domino users worldwide, and by the end of the year Lotus expects to exceed its goal of having 50 million users, said Papows.

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