Lotus announces new growth strategy

While industry pundits continue to make noises about Lotus Development's lack of strategy, the software company said it has identified two emerging application areas - distance learning and knowledge management - as targets for increased investment in the next 18 months.

Speaking at a media briefing in Sydney, Peter Taylor, managing director of Lotus, Australia and New Zealand, said the new strategy would enable Lotus to maintain its position as the revenue leader in the Australian and New Zealand collaborative applications market.

According to research by International Data Corp, Lotus currently commands 42 per cent of the network/Web integrated collaborative environment market in Australia, with Microsoft coming in second with a 28 per cent market share.

The newly announced strategy is based on an ongoing review of Lotus products being conducted by CEO Jeff Papows and the company's operating committee, which revealed knowledge management and distance learning applications to be among the winners. Lotus plans to use additional investments to become the number one or two vendor in both of these areas.

Enterprise customers can expect to see more activity and enhancement surrounding a handful of related Lotus products including LearningSpace Anytime, which supports Web-based training; QuickPlace, a lightweight collaboration tool for extranets; and Sametime, an instant messaging application.

LearningSpace Anytime 3.0 is the only distance learning tool that supports live, self-paced and collaborative training, the company officials said. Lotus is pursuing a broad strategy for the server software that includes fostering course development and supporting third parties that will host courses and offer consulting services, predicting the market for LearningSpace Anytime will grow as large as the Notes/Domino market.

With QuickPlace, Lotus is providing an alternative to Notes. QuickPlace is server-based software that lets users collaborate via the Web with small teams working on short-term projects. So far, QuickPlace has been rolled out in pilot projects only. In response to initial customer feedback, company officials say the next version of QuickPlace will feature integration with Sametime, while a QuickPlace software developers' kit is due out in beta form this month.

In other Lotus news, company officials say they are on target to deliver a Linux version of Domino by year's end. The next major release of Notes/Domino, expected mid next year, will include better integration with Office 2000, deeper XML support and integration with Sametime. It is code-named R-Next.