Lotus to Acquire DataBeam, Ubique

IBM’s Lotus Development Corp. announced today that it will purchase two companies that provide real-time communications software.

With the acquisitions, Lotus executives said they expect to eventually bring real-time capabilities to Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino.

IBM purchased DataBeam–a Lexington, Ky., company that develops real-time and distance-learning servers based on the T.120 standard–and Ubique, a Rehovot, Israel, company that develops instant messaging and chat software.

Mike Zisman, Lotus executive vice president of strategy, said DataBeam technology–devised for distance learning–can be put to use for corporate training.

Using a product rollout as an example, a company could distribute information to its sales force and then offer real-time conferences to provide additional information and answer questions.

While instant messaging, chat, and buddy lists are popular features on America Online, Zisman said the technologies can be applied to business uses.

For example, he said a large company can use instant messaging to track down an employee with a particular expertise. “I envision a scenario, it’s 10 at night or 10 in the morning, stumbling around on some Java problem and knowing there are 150 people who lived that problem and can tell me the answer in five or 10 seconds,” he said.

Financial details of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

Lotus executives said they will keep both DataBeam and Ubique as separate entitities in their current locations.

Earlier in the day, Zisman told some 1,000 businesspeople attending a forum on e-business that the Internet will become a necessity for their operations much like the fax and telephone are today.

Zisman said the Internet reduces the costs of business transactions, changes the relationship between suppliers and merchants, and offers businesses an opportunity to reach an estimated 60 million Internet users. “It’s about connecting everyone and everything,” he said.

IBM and Lotus, the forum sponsors, provided case studies of businesses that have successfully used the Internet for various purposes, such as improving internal communications and marketing merchandise.

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