Doug Bartholomew, Samuel Greengard, Glenn Hasek, John Jesitus, Scott Leibs, Kristin Ohlson, Robert Patton, Barb Schmitz, Tim Stevens, and John Teresko contributed to this article. If ever there was a product that hit the sweet spot of a technology market in the making, it's IBM Corp.'s Lotus Notes/Domino. Exactly when companies were trying to figure out the best use for the Internet, along came this new Internet groupware system that lets people share information in an effective, meaningful fashion using the Internet and corporate intranets. Officially introduced in late 1996, Domino got its real exposure to the corporate market in 1997. "With Domino we have really expanded the role of intra-nets," says Steve Sayre, marketing vice president at Lotus. Adds Tom Austin, vice president at Gartner Group, a Stamford, Conn., research firm, "IBM is the industry leader in [Web-based] collaborative systems with Domino." One reason Domino took off so quickly was the unparalleled popularity of its big sister, Lotus Notes. The leader in groupware, Notes had more than 15 million users at the end of 1996, a year in which the number of people using the groupware product grew by 42.5%. Domino's innovations have continued throughout the year. One, called Domino.Connect, allows users to tap into other corporate databases. Another, Domino.Action, can be used to set up an intranet for various groupware applications. Domino also features a built-in routing system for obtaining approvals, in series or in parallel, as desired, for Web-site content prior to publication. Another is a system created in January in a partnership with PointCast Inc. to enable users to connect data broadcasts over an intranet with business applications. Called Lotus Domino.Broadcast for PointCast, it automatically displays a company's internal news or other important business data to a user's personal computer when the machine is idle. That way, companies can rank, deliver, and interact with information being transmitted to the desktop via the intranet. Lotus Domino also offers a set of bolt-on applications for Web-based commerce. For instance, Domino.Merchant offers a Web site that users like for its easy operation. One customer called it "a Web site in a box." Domino demonstrates that sharing of information -- among offices or plants scattered around the world, for instance -- is a perfect application for the new intranet-groupware concept. It also can be used as a repository for corporate information that is likely to be useful to other employees at a later date. "It allows our people to develop best-practices information and to retain other corporate data such as employee skills," says Jonathan Katz, director of the Domino practice at Coopers & Lybrand in Washington. The consulting firm has established a huge intranet to contain all its background information on client projects, technology, and process data for reuse. The Web site was built using Lotus Domino. Coopers is so bullish on Lotus Domino that the firm began rolling out Domino in applications for its clients. "Many companies using Notes are starting to realize they are going to have to use the intranet," says Mik Chwalek, partner in charge of knowledge strategies. The Lotus Development unit of IBM also is making moves to ensure that Lotus Domino works in concert with other key enterprise software programs. The company struck an agreement with SAP AG to tighten Domino's connection with the R/3 enterprise applications. That way, Domino users can access and manipulate R/3 business objects representing processes such as customer orders or hiring.
IBM/Lotus Development Corp.Cambridge, Mass.