Lotus: Lotus / Domino Government Solutions 2 - A Variety of Examples 2000.

THEMES: Lotus\e-Government
YEAR: 2000
Login Login
User: Anonymous


LABEL: e-Government
PEOPLE: Buschor, Ernst
THINGS: Kickoff | Public Administration | Verwaltung | Workshop
TIME: 2000 | 2001
 
State of Georgia
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State of Georgia
The State of Georgia Helps Provide Entrepreneurial Companies with Tools to Succeed


Challenge:

Atdc, a high-tech business incubator located on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, provides assistance to new and emerging technologycompanies in the State of Georgia in order to facilitate their growth and success. Atdc, awarded Incubator of the Year for 1996 by the National Business Incubator Association, is continuously seeking innovative ways to further serve the technology community.


Typically, start-up companies exhaust tremendous resources in their search for all of the ingredients required for business success. Entrepreneurs face a mountain of challenges when working to establish a company from "scratch" and lack the time, resources, and staff needed to compete in the heated technology marketplace. Atdc sought to develop a highly secure, Internet-based information system to help Georgia's technology entrepreneurs jump-start companies and provide a means for these organizations to quickly identify and gain access to people, resources, services, products, and private investors.


Solution:

"Start-up companies are increasing in number. Technology is booming in the state," said Dwight Holter, general manager of Atdc. "In order to continue to provide services to more and more entrepreneurs, we had to find a way of leveraging our resources."


The process began with a "concept paper" prepared by Atdc, which focused on more efficiently delivering services to start-up technology companies. "After understanding the motivations and desires of these organizations, it was determined that their needs could be satisfied electronically," said Gary Troutman, president of WebTransit, the Lotus Notes applications developer based in Atlanta, Georgia, which develops, hosts, and manages mission-critical Internet business services. "We looked at the different functional areas of the various business models established by the target companies and recognized the Internet as the information deployment tool of choice." The project was funded by a grant from BellSouth and matched by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA).


Atdc evaluated solutions from Oracle and Microsoft, as well as smaller groupware-oriented vendors, but selected the Lotus Notes and Domino Web-enabled groupware and messaging product to develop the Internet-based information system. "A main factor in the decision to choose Notes is Lotus' strong background with large groupware implementations," said Troutman. "We didn't want a new technology to manage a new service. We needed to reduce our risks and sought a `veteran' in the field. Notes was clearly the application that could do what we wanted to do quickly, securely, and robustly. Also, Lotus was the only vendor that gave a great deal of consideration to security and scalability in their product."


"Challenged by limited resources and a burst of start-ups, Atdc saw the Internet as a vehicle to provide the resources and relationships critical to launching a new venture," states Holter.
Based on Lotus Notes and Domino, Atdc and WebTransit developed an interactive Web site known as Netcelerate (www.netcelerate.org), to help fuel the rapid growth and success of technology businesses throughout Georgia.

"Netcelerate provides serious entrepreneurs and start-up technology companies with a virtual community specifically designed to facilitate corporate networking efforts," said Mark Kazlauskas, marketing manager for Netcelerate. "It eliminates time and location constraints, offering 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week online access to both participatory activities and static information. Any Georgia-based technology start-up company can become a Netcelerate member and access the site. We have gone from serving 30 members in physical incubators before the introduction of the site, to reaching more than 150 companies through Netcelerate."


Connecting Entrepreneurs Across the State

Netcelerate takes advantage of the unique characteristics of the Internet, and provides a framework which allows people to build their network of contacts quicker and accelerate the business development process. The Lotus Domino-based Web site provides an environment that promotes information exchange, content creation and distribution, collaboration, investment, and partnering for small technology companies. Valuable tools such as sales forecasting software, sample legal agreements, and directories of pre-screened lawyers, consultants, and accountants make Netcelerate an asset to the high-tech community.


Atdc's Netcelerate service offers a number of sections for users to access. The Lotus Notes discussion groups provide an area for high-tech entrepreneurs to interact with each other and qualified business experts, while exploring a wide range of topics such as: Successfully Running a Business, Raising Capital, Marketing, Intellectual Property, Legal Issues, and Research and Development.


"The Web is a very effective means to disseminate information, but for a small company without in-house expertise it can be expensive and difficult to maintain," said Kevin Bolin, president of Enertech, an entrepreneurial company that develops a process which produces energy from municipal solid waste. "The Netcelerate concept makes it easy by providing up-to-date information in a simplistic format and is also cost effective."


"Atdc provides an investor match-making component, which is essentially a forum for entrepreneurs to post information and funding requests for accredited investors to view," said Kazlauskas. The "Investor Discussion Group" based in Notes is a restricted section dedicated to the needs of the private investor community. "The advantage of having investors involved in Netcelerate is that young companies need to raise capital and being able to refer a potential investor to the site is an excellent sales tool," explained Bolin.


Users can visit the Netcelerate "Mentors and Investors Online" section which provides access to successful business people interested in mentoring and learning about new companies. Participants can communicate via e-mail and discussion groups. Another tool is the "Member Directory" which delivers searchable, indexed profiles of prequalified product and service providers for easy review of their services and credentials. "This directory is a valuable tool for networking and partnering with other technology-literate members," explained Kazlauskas.


Finally, the "Tools and Information" section is self-administered and the content is actually contributed by the Netcelerate user community. "It is a library of information," explained Kazlauskas. "The section includes notes from meetings, white papers, content from Atdc programs, downloadable templates, and executable software programs."


"The site enables me to brush up on areas where I am not as knowledgeable,such as legal issues of owning and operating a business or new marketing concepts," said Lee Scoggins, president of Finance FX, a software consulting services company based in Atlanta. "I am able to download white papers or condensed versions of books or speeches."


Results:

The Netcelerate site accelerates the process of new technology business growth. Because entrepreneurs are provided with easy access to a wealth of information and industry contacts, Netcelerate eases the start-up process and increases a company's chance of success. Each new business established creates a number of new employment opportunities for the state. "By promoting new jobs within Georgia's technology market, the economy churns faster," said Troutman. "Netcelerate facilitates the user community's need for an information system that encourages knowledge exchange to speed the market place." Venture capitalists enjoy the flexibility of Netcelerate and accessibility to information. They are able to obtain answers more quickly and benefit from an environment which provides a means to develop corporate relationships and is conducive to collaboration efforts.


"The site not only provides access to information, which our members typically do not have time to research on their own, it also has a strong networking element and reduces the need for face-to-face meetings," said Kazlauskas."


"I have developed many informal business relationships via Netcelerate," said Scoggins. "It truly fosters a sense of community. And the discussion groups provide the opportunity to communicate with people, such as lawyers, who are extremely difficult to reach by phone. Lawyers might periodically log on to the site and answer any questions posted to them ... for free."


Executives can use Netcelerate as a tool to easily locate investors and product/service providers, as well as interact with them in what becomes a win-win network to gather references, seek industry advice, learn related experiences, and collaborate on ideas. Netcelerate is used by Atdc to further accomplish their goals, and help fuel the rapid growth and success of technology businesses throughout Georgia.


"The site is clever," said Scoggins. "It is well laid out and has a very good search engine. Netcelerate is a grab bag of information. It is a Web site which people actually use. I log into it once or twice a week."


"The Lotus Notes and Domino solution enabled us to quickly develop an Internet-based application that facilitates enhanced communication and collaboration among Georgia-based businesses, as well as provides Atdc with a tool to manage and track the information about each applicant and easily post it to the Netcelerate Web site," said Troutman. Lotus Domino offers multiple levels of access to the site and enables Atdc to present information in multiple formats for its different audiences.


Expanding Netcelerate to the Regional Level

The system is currently designed for a single organization, however, with the help of WebTransit, Atdc is looking to expand the concept to the regional level - allowing users within a specific region to access information on other organizations within that region and collaborate with the businesses in their specific area. However, if information is available for one region and may be of interest to other regions, Atdc will ensure that the content is available to all interested users of Netcelerate.