So far, online services such as instant messaging and real-time conferencing -- chatting -- have been more popular with consumers than corporate users. But Lotus sees that changing -- particularly as consumers push their employers to adopt these technologies, analysts say.
Lotus says it intends to add to its Notes and Domino server line the real-time conferencing and collaboration server technologies developed by two privately held companies it took over this week, DataBeam Corp. in Lexington, Ky., and Ubique Ltd. in Rehovot, Israel.
The move by Lotus -- and its parent company, IBM -- into real-time communications, virtual conference rooms and the like, indicates that "this is not just going to be a consumer entity -- it's going to be integrated into the business world," says Tim Sloane, an analyst at Boston-based Aberdeen Group, Inc.
One Notes user, Enrique Crespo, manager of sales for corporate systems at The Torrington Co. in Torrington, Conn., says he doesn't know if real-time collaboration would save money, but it would ease application development. "The more collaborative these applications are, the more we realise we need some quicker interaction," Crespo says. He would use real-time collaboration across wide-area networks that connect 30 offices, he says.
Real-time technologies can justify return on investments, said one analyst, particularly for remote users, such as a sales force. But instant messaging -- having the ability to know who is online at a particular company -- "just makes it easier for people to communicate," said Nina Burns, president of Creative Networks, a consultancy in Palo Alto, Calif.
Lotus says it will ship the first of real-time products, named Sametime, later this year.