IBM to expand Internet services and include its Notes technology Power made possible by Lotus acquisition


ARMONK, N.Y. -- International Business Machines Corp. said yesterday it will expand its Internet services and include the use of its Lotus Notes technology.

Armonk-based IBM will develop ways to have information shared on the global computer network as part of its goal of making products and services more "network-centric," the company said a press conference at the Fall Internet World trade show in Boston.

"This is a big coming-out for us," said John Mears, IBM's program developer for platform business development. "We are merging our Internet offerings with Lotus Notes to deliver the power that people have been looking for since we bought Lotus."

IBM paid $3.52 billion in July for Lotus Development Corp., best known for its Notes program, which lets employees in far-flung offices collaborate on projects and share documents. Notes will let companies doing business on the Internet track information about customers, add them to mailing lists and ask for customer service, IBM said.

IBM already provides companies with software for browsing the Internet and servers for relaying information. IBM hopes the strategy will put it ahead of its rivals AT&T; Corp. and MCI Communications Corp. in offering business uses for the Internet, the global computer network.

Analysts said IBM faces challenges in fitting new Internet services with its vast line of products. The products, which are still under development, probably will appeal to customers who already use Notes, analysts said.

"It is a gesture to people that made an investment into Notes who need a Web development tool," said Dan Miller, president at Opus Research, an industry researcher.

IBM's competitors in the market are developing ways for companies to use the Internet as a large internal network for sharing information.

IBM said it wants to help "customers to get connected to their customers and extend their reach by linking their computing enterprises to the Internet," said John Patrick, vice president of Internet applications for IBM.

IBM will help companies install the technology, integrate it with their networks and market the new Internet services.

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