Orbital Brings Collaboration To R&D

An upgrade to Orbital Software's Organik knowledge management software will let research and development workers more effectively share their expertise, company officials said.

Orbital Software tomorrow will roll out an upgrade to its Organik knowledge management software that officials said will enable workers involved in research and development to more effectively share their expertise.

Organik 3.2 enables companies to create electronic communities in which participants can locate, capture and share their expertise through a portal or browser interface.

New in the upgrade is integration with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook messaging system. Organik 3.2 also provides the ability to attach documents, such as specifications or product plans, when responding to a question posed to the community. It offers single-sign on capabilities so users can log into a central server then connect directly to Organik without further authentication.

A new Rapid Rollout Kit in Version 3.2 includes new customization tools to fit the software into a companys intranet or portal. It also includes administration tools that make it easier to edit or delete questions posed to the group as well as new reporting tools for discovering usage trends, said officials, in Framingham, Mass.

Orbital has already added IM (instant messaging) capabilities to some customers systems on a custom basis, but will make IM a standard feature in Version 4.0 of the product, which is due in March 2002, said Bob Nilsson, vice president of marketing.

In developing the Outlook integration, Orbital created a methodology that will enable the company to integrated Organik into other e-mail or portal applications. But Nilsson said Orbital has not yet turned that methodology into a product.

Organik 3.2 is targeted for companies that spend 15 percent or more of their revenue on R&D, in particular companies in the high-tech, discrete manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and capital equipment industries.

It complements PLM (product lifecycle management) and project management tools by opening up another channel for communication, said Nilsson.

"To get different people in different cultures and geographies using [PLM and project management applications] can be difficult," he said.

Being able to identify experts within different development categories is important because, according to a survey from The Delphi Group, 46 percent of corporate knowledge is stored within paper or electronic documents but 42 percent is locked in the brains of employees.

Organik 3.2 is available now and priced from $20 per seat to $150 per seat depending on the number of seats.