International Business Machines Corp.'s plan to integrate Lotus Notes software with IBM's worldwide computer network may help banks to familiarize themselves with the information superhighway.
IBM last week unveiled a new service that would allow customers to use Notes, the popular "groupware" program, over the IBM Global Network to gain wider access to information.
Many banks already use Notes, which allows many different PC users to access and share the same data.
This new offering will let customers make their Notes information available via the Internet.
Internotes, as the service is called, also can convert Notes files into pages of information for the World Wide Web, where many banks and service companies already post and update informational sites.
Banks that are searching for ways to approach the Internet may eye this offering as a way to test the mysterious waters of the worldwide network using a familiar application.
Financial services is the single largest industry user of Notes. Banks alone account for close to 10% of Notes' two million users.
Chase Manhattan Corp., Bankers Trust New York Corp., and J.P. Morgan & Co. all use Notes in their wholesale banking departments to manage information about their large corporate clients. "I think I will work with IBM on this," said Craig Goldman, the chief information officer for Chase.
Chase, one of the earliest and largest users of Notes, has already been testing a similar on-line Notes service with AT&T Corp. since last year. Mr. Goldman said Chase plans to roll that out during the first quarter of next year.
AT&T announced in March 1994 that it would develop an on-line Notes service and unveiled plans to push ahead with it last week. IBM said it expects that users of both on-line Notes services will be able to collaborate.
Mr. Goldman said IBM's competitive offering would give Chase more flexibility in using such a service.
J.P. Morgan refused to comment on the new service or on the number of Notes users. But the bank announced last May that it would more than double its use of the software from 6,000, at that time, to close to 13,000 terminals by early this year.
IBM last month announced its plans to acquire Lotus Development Corp., maker of Notes, as part of its effort to expand its software business.