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April 6, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

The Customer Service Systems of British Telecommunications Plc make up one of the most impressive collections of IBM mainframe hardware in Europe, and the transition from ICL to IBM as its main supplier co-incided with the introduction of the Customer Service sites around the country. But it turns out that the 100 or so mainframe orders generated by the development didn’t all go IBM’s way. Apart from the fact that ICL has picked up substantial business outside the Customer centres, it now transpires that Amdahl has just landed not its first, but its second order for a machine for a Customer centre, the one at Derby. The first was installed in Liverpool back in November. Both are Amdahl 5890-200E machines, but given the special price bid nature of the mainframe market at the moment, no-one is giving away the price for each machine. There is likely to be some interesting cut and thrust in prices between the two suppliers, with the rest of the plug-compatible community not lagging too far behind. If British Telecom decides to opt for a dual supplier policy generally, it could quickly become Amdahl’s biggest customer in Europe – just as AT&T Co is its biggest customer across the Atlantic – and worldwide. On the downside for Amdahl is that in the latest of the regular Datapro-Computer Weekly surveys of customer satisfaction with their mainframe suppliers, published in February, shows that Amdahl’s pride in its first place in previous years for keeping the customer satisfied was knocked for six last year. The company slumped to last place in the survey, with a lowly rating for reliability and a bottom-of-the-poll position for documentation. If memory serves, IBM used to get those types of scores back when it was at its most profitable, and the near collapse of Burroughs at the turn of the decade made clear that not only is there a relationship between profitability and scrimping on customer services, but that if you pursue that approach as a policy, after two or three years, the chickens come home to roost with a vengeance.

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