One company benefiting from the roll out of Notes is developer Sentor Communications. Also, as a member of IBM's BESTeam program, Sentor will be one of the first to hook up to IBM's own Notes-based information delivery service when it is rolled out.
One of the three companies in the SenGroup (along with recent acquisition Future Technologies), Sentor was founded three years ago with the intention of assisting companies in communicating across boundaries.
Not strictly a Notes reseller, Sentor has developed business solutions based around Notes for some of Australia's biggest companies, including BHP, Smith's Snackfoods and Qantas. It's DocWatch software was recently a finalist in a US contest judged by Gartner Group and Lotus.
Fisk said the company started as a result of his interest in the way software enabled business to work. "When I started we were in the days of the mainframe accounting systems and PC spreadsheets and that was about it. When client/server first hit the market you started to see things like e-mail appear. That's what excited me, because I saw the opportunity to communicate between people using these new technologies. Then, when I first got introduced to Lotus Notes in 1990, I saw that not only could we use something like e-mail to communicate instead of phone, fax or letter, but we could actually start getting people to communicate and share information using applications."
Since then Sentor has been concentrating on developing software to assist business to operate across divisions, be they internal, geographical or inter-company. "We have our services business, which is focused on delivering business applications to either commercial or government organisations. Our customer base includes a lot of the top names in Australian business, and the work that we do with them is enabling those organisations to bring in their suppliers or key customers to their own applications. Our philosophy is that a lot of the business processes of one organisation intimately revolve around the business processes of other organisations.
"A lot of the work we do is to link the complementary business processes in different organisations together into a single application. Notes has typically been the tool we have used for that because of the security and replication properties it has, but increasingly we are using the Internet as a way of providing customer service."
Sentor now has software installed in fifteen countries, including the USA, Canada, the UK, and even Hungary. Sentor managing director Martin Fisk said the very nature of Notes makes it an ideal vehicle for overseas marketing. "One of the advantages of Notes, and now the Internet, has been that ability to provide electronic marketing worldwide. Most of our marketing has been primarily using the Lotus community and Lotus Notes databases and also now through the Internet.
"It is difficult for an Australian company to really market effectively in the US and in Europe due to time differences and the cost of travel. Electronic marketing levels the playing field and is the way to go for Australian companies.