Knowledge key to Lotus Discovery

Lotus CEO Al Zollar promised that users would see a step change in business performance through better use of corporate knowledge...

Lotus CEO Al Zollar promised that users would see a step change in business performance through better use of corporate knowledge as he unveiled the portal-based Lotus Discovery Server at Lotusphere 2001. Doubts raised by analysts over performance of the iNotes Web client were conceded by company representatives, writes Antony Adshead.

Discovery Server is claimed to be the first knowledge-based server but Ashim Pal, an analyst with Meta Group, said, "The move to a knowledge server is the right thing to have done. Lotus has gone some way to dealing with its reputation of giving a poor user experience but there are performance issues with iNotes that need addressing. Users need to pilot it out incrementally."

The problem arises from the need for the iNotes client to render objects from Notes Storage Format (NSF) into HTML for the browser-based architecture.

Scott Cooper, Lotus vice-president for knowledge management, confirmed the existence of the issue. "We have not done full scalability testing for iNotes. There are some deployment advantages to be had, but more processing power may be needed."

Lotus also announced Lotus Knowledge Discovery System - the bundling of its K-Station knowledge management portal and Lotus Discovery Server - as well as Domino Everyplace, a server for use with mobile devices.

Analysts gave a cautious welcome, seeing the release as important but warning users that the promise of gaining business advantage needs to be tempered against the risk of rushing into deployment.

Eric Woods, an analyst at Ovum, said, "It is a critical element in Lotus' drive to keep ahead in knowledge management. But it is an advanced tool and most users will find K-Station easier to handle on its own."

In conjunction with Lotus' collaboration and e-learning tools, the company believes the Discovery System can help corporate users make knowledge transparent in their organisations. Lotus director of knowledge management Scott Elliot called the release "a next-generation server to help users find relevance in content".

The company said the software can help business users unlock knowledge that is hidden within their companies by discovering, categorising and establishing the context of knowledge held by individuals.

Once this expertise has been discovered, it will allow staff to collaborate in real-time through discussion or by routing documents for executive approval using other Lotus tools.

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