Signing Off on IBM Lotus Forms 3.0

IBM spruces up its electronic forms software at what may turn out to be the expense of competitors Microsoft and Adobe.

IBM unveiled on Oct. 2 a new version of its electronic forms software that allows users to create, fill out, sign and submit forms data via a Web browser without downloading additional software.

Lotus Forms 3.0, announced at the IBM Lotus Collaboration Summit, in Washington, employs an AJAX- (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)-based wizard for its interface, which communicates with back-end systems.

This enables customers to prepopulate forms with existing system information, thereby reducing errors associated with manual data entry, said Antony Satyadas, senior strategist for IBM Lotus, based in Armonk, N.Y.

Thanks to digital signature technology from Silanis Technology, Forms 3.0 allows users to use an electronic signature pad or swipe cards and fingerprint scanners to digitally sign the form.


Click here to read more about IBMs Lotus Symphony.

Forms 3.0 cleanly integrates with software from IBM and third parties, including IBMs WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Content Management, FileNet P8, Lotus Expeditor and WebSphere Process Server, as well as with applications from SAP and Siebel, Satyadas said.

Electronic forms software is increasingly being used as an alternative to paper forms in several industries, most notably in government and the insurance and financial services markets.

Providers of such technology have millions of companies to sell to, making it a slowly maturing market ripe for new revenue potential.

Lotus Forms, technology acquired from IBMs 2005 purchase of PureEdge that is based on the World Wide Web Consortiums XForms standard, is an alternative to forms software from Microsoft and Adobe.


Read more here about IBMs purchase of PureEdge for forms technology.

Microsoft and Adobe have long been considered market leaders, but IBM hopes to change that dynamic with Lotus Forms 3.0.

For example, the U.S. Army said it expects it will save $1.3 billion after implementing a forms and content management system from IBM with Lotus Forms and Silanis e-signatures technology. Over 20,00 Department of the Army PureEdge forms can now be shuttled electronically using Lotus Forms. This cuts down on lost documents between the Army and its soldiers, deployed all over the world.

In another scenario, GXS Trading Grid, a global integration services platform, uses Lotus Forms in its business-to-business offering to increase the speed and accuracy of document turnaround for small businesses that work with larger trading partners, including retailers and large manufacturers.

Lotus Forms 3.0 is available now for the Lotus Forms Server 3.0 product for $400 per processor value unit.

The product comes amid a flurry of office productivity and collaboration software news from IBM, Microsoft and Adobe. On Sept. 18, IBM unveiled Lotus Symphony, a suite of free software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

On Oct. 1, Microsoft introduced Office Live Workspace, which, like Lotus Symphony, is geared to let customers access, share and collaborate on documents online. On the same day, Adobe agreed to buy Virtual Ubiquity for its online word processor and announced a new file-sharing service for its own online document services.


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