Reporter's Notebook, Lotusphere 2000

The featured Lotusphere topic, the Raven knowledge management suite, packed conference sessions, tutorials and how-to talks, but many left with more questions than answers.

"They're creating expectations they won't deliver on for a while," says Bruce Alper, chief information officer of the American Management Association in New York. "I would not go to Vegas and bet on Raven's delivery."

Lotus Development Corp. says Raven will ship midyear and has been in private beta testing with 20 customers for the past month. Lotus didn't demo anything markedly different from when the company first showed Raven in October. Perhaps a packed conference session showed where interest really lies.

Questions after the session focused solely on operational processes and not technology.

"The tools don't matter," said Adrian Poplawski, a network analyst for the Canadian International Development Agency. "Knowledge management is 90% a process problem and 10% a technology issue."

Papows' farewell

Outgoing CEO Jeff Papows circulated among the Lotus faithful last week extending his thanks and saying good-bye. But he could not escape questions as to why he is leaving.

Papows again denied that newspaper accounts of him exaggerating his military and educational exploits and allegations brought in a sexual harassment suit were connected to his departure.

"The company is at its peak of product and business strength," Papows said, noting he is leaving at a time when his departure will cause the least disruption. Papows' successor, Al Zollar, stayed in the background for most of the show, though he did give closing remarks. Zollar takes over next week.

Putting fannies in the seats

Continuing its string of strong fourth quarters, Lotus officials said they added 8.5 million seats of Notes/Domino in the last three months of 1999. The total of 22 million seats for the year beat projections by three million. Lotus now has 56 million seats.

Trick or treat

Although Lotus sold some 160,000 seats of cc:Mail last year, sales will end for good on Halloween. Support and maintenance will cease at year-end, and code fixes will halt on Jan. 31, 2001.

Trial balloon?

After announcing new pricing models for Notes/Domino, Lotus failed to talk dollar amounts. Rest assured, Lotus officials said, the numbers will come at the end of this quarter on six new options all built on top of the existing Corporate Enterprise Option, which includes basic messaging, calendars and other features.

One new pricing tier will add Sametime and QuickPlace. Other tiers tack on pervasive messaging (mobile services), e-Apps (workflow, WebSphere), document management and search, and distributed learning.

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