Embedding collaboration: Not just a technical issue

By Jennifer DiSabatino, Computer World |  Software

The next step for collaboration software, many IT managers at Lotusphere said, is to embed components into line-of-business tools like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. But the move to embed may be as much a political issue as it is a technical one, as managers at user companies strive to defend their application turf.

Lotus is forming partnerships so that resellers and other vendors can develop applications using Lotus collaboration products such as Notes, Domino, Sametime and QuickPlace.

According to Lotus officials, Notes RNext, the successor to R5 that's scheduled for release later this year, will be increasingly modular -- constructed so pieces of the application can be taken out and embedded into other applications. Sametime and QuickPlace are similarly modular.

Frank Bustraen, vice president of corporate IT at Royal Philips Electronics, is using QuickPlace for collaboration outside the firewall with partner companies. He said he would really like to merge some QuickPlace features into Royal Philips' CRM and ERP applications. "You need this interconnection," he said. "Now [my co-workers] are starting to discover that. They now recognize that components are lacking."

Bustraen said he can even do it in-house. "With a little bit of coding, it can work," he said.

The problem, Buestran said, is that the Royal Philips manager responsible for CRM and ERP applications is reluctant to risk losing control of his domain. "There are political repercussions," he said.

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