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November 6, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Electronic Data Systems, the Dallas-based, General Motors Corp owned computer services company that claims to have invented facilities management back in 1962, is making noises in the UK facilities management marketplace. According to Ronald Bain, manager of financial services sales at EDS, there is a limited understanding of facilities management in the UK. He believes computer knowledge all too frequently remains within the data processing department and that the potential to add pace to business initiatives is often missed. He points to a poll carried out by the MORI market research group last year on behalf of EDS and the Economist. The results showed that 80% of directors of financial institutions felt their investment in computers had not lived up to expectations, and a third were not planning to increase their investment. Only 13% expected new projects to be completed on time or within budget and on the whole computers were seen as a solution to short-term needs rather than as support for long term projects. Because investments often leave a business financially vulnerable, with no guarantee that the system will deliver the goods, senior managers are now looking upon their computer investments in much the same way as any other investment. Bain believes facilities management offers a real alternative to the traditional in-house department and can give an organisation far more control over its investment in computer systems. EDS offers its facilities management services on a contractual basis, the benefit of which is no cost overruns and an EDS guarantee that the service promised will be delivered. As such the company can measure the return on its investment and respond quickly to new business opportunities. The market is getting tougher with Plessey Co buying Hoskyns in substantial part for its big facilities management business, and both British Telecommunications and IBM entering the fray recently, but EDS remain confident. The company provides facilities management services to its parent, US automobile giant General Motors. Facilities management is estimated to be responsible for about one third of EDS’ US activities and accounts for almost two thirds of UK turnover. The company’s facilities contracts are handled from a number of off-site information processing centres and Bain claims no solution is beyond its expertise. Though there is a general perception that business has failed to get results from investment in computers, the buying behaviour has changed little over the last 20 years. EDS believes things will change and that customers will no longer depend on a single supplier, where progress has to be governed by imponderables like manufacturers’ release dates, system obsolescence or staff shortages.

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