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Sametime, anytime, anywhere

Here's a look at Lotus' initiatives to deliver real-time collaboration to wireless. devices

This is the final part of a two-part series on Instant Messaging and Lotus Domino/Notes. The previous article examined IM and Sametime 2.0, the Lotus real-time collaborative platform. In this part, we will look at Lotus' initiatives to deliver real-time collaboration to wireless devices.

Now that business professionals are getting hooked on Instant Messaging, it's not surprising that they also want to access the IM capability anywhere, anytime. While not everyone will get their wish by the holidays, Sametime users can look forward to wireless IM access in the near future.

In fact, this wish has already come true for Lotus Sametime users in Europe, who have taken advantage of Lotus Professional Services' introduction of a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) solution a few months ago. In addition, Lotus users who attended LotusSphere in Orlando earlier this month, got a preview of the Sametime wireless product, scheduled for release in the U.S. during the first part of calendar year 2001.

This fall, Lotus announced to its European customers the availability of Sametime Everyplace Quick Start, a WAP solution available as part of the Lotus Professional Services Wireless Solutions Portfolio. Sametime Everyplace lets users search their corporate directories to determine which users are online, using a wireless device. They can then send messages to their colleagues on pagers and other wireless devices that use SMS (Short Messaging Services) technology.

The Sametime API toolset is used to integrate with Domino and Notes. This allows users who are reading their Notes files to check to see who is online if they need immediate answers to their questions. Because the toolset is Java-based, the technology also works in the Microsoft Exchange environment.

Lotus views Sametime Everyplace Quick Start as a "killer application" that addresses the needs of an ever-increasing mobile workforce that requires immediate responses to business problems. Advances in wireless communication technology enable the company to provide this capability.

Robert Mahowald, senior research analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass. says, "The demand has always been there for better coordination of communication but it is coming to a head because we are seeing protocols that are up to the demand with WAP, WCDMA Wideband Code Division Multiple Access and IMODE (Japan's DoCoMo's proprietary platform). It is more of a reality than a pipedream, especially with the growth of voice-enabled software, so you don't need to type in instant messages."

As part of its future U.S. offering, Lotus is also working on establishing an infrastructure to extend the Sametime client to the desktop [Currently, because of limitations of the WAP technology, a chat cannot be initiated from the desktop to the mobile user. Instead, when European users click on the user's name, they get a dialog box and the message is routed to the user's phone, using SMS]. As part of its product strategy in the United States, Lotus is working on support for a rich client experience, including communication with PalmPilot wireless devices and network appliances.

"It is extending awareness outside of your immediate enterprise to include people who are not in the office," says Jim Cavalier, Lotus product manager for Sametime and Everyplace. "People and business processes can be more responsive."

Paula Jacobs is a contributing writer and director of The Jacobs Group, a Mass.-based communications company.

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