IBM Lotus Takes Notes Up A Notch

IBM Lotus General Manager Ambuj Goyal last week demonstrated publicly for the first time new activity-based collaboration capabilities inside a future version of the Notes client.

Goyal showed off the new capabilities, which already are part of Lotus' Workplace 2.5 managed client, during a sneak peek at how the Notes interface and client will evolve. Goyal would not comment on exactly when the new features will show up in the Notes client.

The demonstration was before several hundred Notes administrators at The View Administration Conference for Lotus Software Professionals in Boston. "The activity concept is starting to evolve nicely in the marketplace," said Goyal. "People have said [they] would like an activity inbox inside the standard Notes client."

Brian Rowe, president of Cobra Technologies, a Tallahassee, Fla., IBM Lotus Premier partner specializing in document management solutions, said the Workplace capabilities extend the Notes opportunity for partners of IBM Lotus, Cambridge, Mass. "This opens that window of opportunity further for us as a partner," he said.

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Rowe compared the Workplace opportunity to the one that accompanied Lotus Notes in the early days. "This is just like when Lotus started its partner program for Notes many years ago," he said. "They are empowering partners like us to go out and create these [activity-based collaboration] applications."

The new collaboration capabilities represent a paradigm shift, transforming Notes into a dynamic portal for knowledge workers such as attorneys, bank tellers and retail clerks. For example, Goyal showed a rich Notes client for an attorney that included an activity-centric set of documents, processes, tasks, content and applications. The attorney desktop included tasks such as "Six Patents Need Review" or "Five Contracts Due Today," which in turn were automatically linked to the specific team members working on those documents via instant messaging or a VoIP chat capability.