Bair, James H.: The Knowledge Management Dimensions of Lotus Notes 5.0, 06.10. 1998.
Bair, James H.
October 06, 1998
Advanced Technologies & Applications (ATA) (Document link not converted)
The Knowledge Management Dimensions of Lotus Notes 5.0
Lotus has announced the industry's most-complete KM functionality
in Notes v.5. Enhanced semantic, collaborative, visualization and
scalability features could make Notes a KM leader, if performance
and other issues are resolved.
Electronic Workplace: Knowledge Management Technology and Architecture
What existing and emerging technologies will enable effective knowledge
Strategic Planning Assumptions
By 2000, Lotus Notes will have the industry's most-complete knowledge
management functionality and will maintain leadership by continuing to add
semantic, visual and collaborative functionality (0.8 probability).
By 2000, the demand for real-time, explicit knowledge transfer will result
in a return to interrupt-driven work as a cost of knowledge sharing (0.7
To support the activities of the knowledge management (KM) process -
creation, capture, organization, access and use - KM technology (KMT)
requires new functionality. This functionality has four dimensions:
semantics, collaboration, visualization and scale. Products that do not
perform in all four dimensions require companion products to fulfill KM
requirements. To correct the shortcomings of the current version of Notes,
Lotus has announced an architecture that presages leading functionality in
all four dimensions (see Figure 1). Here, we provide a high-level review of
the Lotus announcement and analysis based on early beta test feedback on
Notes Domino 5.0.
Scope of KM Technologies
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Semantic Functionality: Lotus Notes and Domino have had a limited search
tool that disqualified them as KMT offerings. The new Domino Extended
Search will meet the fundamental requirement for searching all of an
enterprise's information resources (see Note 1) and returning an
integrated, relevance-ranked list. Based on text indices, it should perform
as well as the basic competitive products (see Note 2).
Domino Extended Search
KM systems must match language in specific collections, as well as across
the enterprise and the Internet. The Extended Search add-on product
provides distributed, heterogeneous search across: Notes and non-Notes
information repositories; Notes domains; relational database and text
retrieval engines; and Internet search sites. It returns relevance-ranked
results - based on a search of internal documents, external research and
Internet sources - and uses a distributed index and double-byte words for
Semantic Retrieval Competitors
Dataware, Excalibur, Fulcrum and Verity provide basic, enterprise-wide
search that compares to Domino Extended Search. However, since early 1997,
they have been adding advanced semantic features (e.g., noun-phrase
identification) that improve relevance performance for large, heterogeneous
Collaboration: Despite the shortcomings of recent versions, Notes is the
most widely used product for KM, because of its fully scalable groupware.
However, groupware alone is insufficient for KM, even with rich replication
services and document management (Domino.doc). Additional collaborative
functionality will provide expert identification and real-time interaction
(see Note 3); however, collaborative filtering is not part of the
announcement, although many customers add it from grapeVINE, a third party
(see Note 4). This adds "push" to the sometimes laborious information
"pull." Instead of focusing on this expanded capture and access, Lotus has
emphasized real-time interaction for connecting "experts." This requires
interruptions to share knowledge. By 2000, the demand for real-time,
explicit knowledge transfer will result in a return to interrupt-driven
work as a cost of knowledge sharing (0.7 probability). Although Lotus
developed this functionality based on research, it does not address the
shortcomings of groupware and only supports the "sharing" activities in the
In May 1998, Lotus announced that it was acquiring real-time collaboration
vendors DataBeam Corp. and Ubique Ltd. Lotus also announced its intention
to combine the DataBeam Conference server and Ubique's VirtualPlaces server
with the collaboration capabilities of Notes and Domino to form the
Sametime product family. The Notes 5.0 client will include Ubique's
CoWorker and DataBeam's FarSite Java and ActiveX components. Sametime will
enable Notes clients and browser users to see who is online and "chat" with
The grapeVINE product, an add-on to Lotus Notes and other groupware,
provides collaborative filtering. This advanced functionality enables
communities to match interest profiles, evaluate information "nuggets" and
be alerted to items of interest.
Visualization: Customers have used Notes to provide a visual map for
"knowledge navigation" by exploiting the "views" capability; however, KM
needs more than hierarchical displays of categories and labels.
Visualization interfaces that display clusters of information objects are
currently not announced for V5. Notes views tend to be too cumbersome for
presenting users with a likeness of Yahoo (the knowledge map), and this is
short of the animated visualization recommend for KM.
Scale: Notes is a leader in providing wide-area access to a single
groupware environment. Database access, replication and hyperlinks extend
the groupware context. The new extended search feature provides access to
distributed indices from outside Notes applications (see Note 5). Despite
such issues as replication scheduling and compatibility among different
indices, Lotus now matches competitors in search scale, and exceeds them in
collaboration scale, due to its groupware functions.
KM Scalability Top Requirement
KM requires that users access all relevant knowledge on a need-to-know
basis, rather than as prescribed by physical-access limits. Replication
enables all users to share a common knowledge context - the threaded
When Domino 5.0 ships in late 1998, it will be the first full-scale KMT
offering. Competitive tools are limited to KR (because of the lack of
collaboration functionality) or require an enterprise architectural
framework (see Note 6). Notes will continue to be a complex environment
supporting applications development and complementary functions, such as
E-mail. Of the two main differences - extended search and real-time
interaction - only the former will make Notes a true KMT offering.
Application templates and frameworks may enhance vertical applications, but
it is the value added to enterprise intranets that leverages intellectual
assets. Old issues (e.g., heavyweight implementation, slow performance and
a cumbersome interface) await resolution as the new system rolls out.
Shortcomings in the KMT dimensions are being addressed, especially by
exploiting IBM's research and development resources (e.g., IBM Knowledge
Utility). By 2000, Lotus Notes will have the industry's most-complete KM
functionality and will maintain leadership by continuing to add semantic,
visual and collaborative functionality (0.8 probability).
Knowledge Retrieval (KR)
KR requires additional, advanced functionality, compared to information
retrieval (IR), which has become a commodity. IR depends on semantic
functionality to augment inverted indices, whereas KR requires the addition
of collaborative and visualization functionality, but does not include
groupware (e.g., threaded conversations).
Bottom Line: Lotus has announced KMT functionality that gives it the
potential to move into a leadership position. Notes users who need KM
should plan to upgrade to Domino v.5 within a year; non-Notes users should
ensure that implementation and performance issues have been overcome prior
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