Tools For Communicating

IBM Lotus Software suite offers plug-and-play architecture for larger groups of employees.
With the launch last week of its Workplace suite of collaboration components, IBM Lotus Software is attempting to give customers a plug-and-play architecture for delivering collaborative tools to larger groups of employees. The suite includes modules for E-mail, instant messaging and Web conferencing, E-learning, and content management. The instant-messaging and Web-conferencing module, called Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration, also acts as a presence engine that provides information on users' online availability across all the Workplace components.

Manulife Financial Corp. deployed Lotus Workplace Messaging's Web-based E-mail tool to 3,600 field sales agents in Japan in June. The company, which sells financial services and insurance products, has since seen the number of policies sold each month per agent rise noticeably, says Guy Mills, assistant VP of information services.


Lotus' suite includes modules for E-mail, instant messaging and Web conferencing, E-learning, and content management:

  • Components can run on a variety of standards-based portal servers

  • Workplace Messaging lists for $29 per user; the team collaboration module runs $89 per user; the learning-management tool runs $35 per user; and the Workplace Web Content Management tool is $50,000 per CPU

  • Data: IBM Lotus

    Before deploying Workplace Messaging, Manulife communicated with its Japanese field sales force primarily through regional sales managers, who would pass out printed materials, including company E-mails, to their sales staffs. In addition, sales reps relied on the phone and snail mail for communicating with customers, who increasingly have asked for correspondence in E-mail. Now, reps have company E-mail addresses protected by Manulife's existing spam and virus filters.

    Mills estimates that the software ran about one-tenth of what it would have cost to expand the company's Lotus Notes deployment, which offers many features that sales reps don't need. The technology is working so well that Manulife is looking at using it to supply Web-based E-mail to its field sales forces in China and Hong Kong, as well as call-center personnel and seasonal staff companywide.

    Mills also is considering looking at the Workplace Team Collaboration module for portal-based instant messaging, Web conferencing, and E-learning. Says Mills, "That kind of thing would make sense if the numbers add up and the infrastructure isn't too heavy."

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