Lotus and Orbital Beef Up KM Wares

Target easier integration with third-party apps.

Lotus Development Corp. and Orbital Software Inc. have enhanced their respective knowledge management applications to make them easier to integrate with third-party software.

Easier integration should help both KM applications achieve their purpose of identifying people and topics across an organization by tapping into a broader array of sources.

Lotus last week began shipping Version 1.1 of Discovery Server, which, for the first time, is being sold as a stand-alone product. As such, it comes with a tool kit that enables corporate developers to integrate it with their applications.

Discovery Server 1.1, which analyzes and identifies relationships between documents and people in an organization, had been bundled previously with Lotus K-station portal software as part of its Knowledge Discovery System suite. Earlier this month, K-station was separated from the suite as part of parent company IBMs WebSphere Portal platform.

Customers will be able to use Discovery Server 1.1 with a choice of front ends, including K-station, WebSphere Portal, or Plumtree Software Inc.s Corporate Portal and Gadget Web Services offerings. Lotus officials in Cambridge, Mass., said integration with other portal vendors products was planned. The tool kit in Discovery Server 1.1 provides new APIs for integrating the KM software with other applications, such as search, navigation tools and workflow management tools, officials said.

Discovery Server 1.1 is priced at $199 per user.

Also last week, Orbital, of Framingham, Mass., rolled out Version 3.2 of its Organik KM software, which enables companies to create electronic communities in which participants can locate, capture and share expertise through a portal or browser interface. It features new tools that let a company integrate the software into its intranet or portal, and it offers a standard integration with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook messaging system.

Orbital will add instant messaging capabilities in Version 4.0 of Organik, which is due in March.

"Anything that captures information from e-mails and separates it into a database helps us," said Don Slepian, manager of knowledge services at Lucent Technologies Inc., which will start a trial using Organik next quarter.

Being able to identify experts within development categories is important because, according to a survey from Boston-based Delphi Group, 42 percent of corporate knowledge is locked in the brains of employees.

But even so, Slepian has not found it easy to get buy-in to the KM concept. "With any big company, it is hard to fight inertia," said Slepian, in Warren, N.J.

Organik 3.2 is available now and priced from $20 to $150 per seat.