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October 27, 1999

Services Lead Unisys E-business Offering

By CBR Staff Writer

Unisys Corp has unveiled a raft of new services as part of its belated efforts to establish its e-business credentials. The offerings, which formed part of the launch of its new e-@ction strategy for e-business, include the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based hardware, software and services vendor’s formal entry into the application service provider space, as well as rapid development tools and security security.

In line with CEO Larry Weinbach’s intention of playing to its strengths, Unisys is using the ASP delivery mechanism as a way to showcase its range of industry specific software solutions. Initial offerings will focus on the publishing, travel and transportation industries. But while this focus should differentiate Unisys somewhat from the growing crowd, the company will also act as a more typical ASP by supplying ERP packages from SAP and PeopleSoft and customer relationship management solutions from Siebel. The solutions will be offered via both the internet and thin client set-ups.

Unisys has also devised a framework it calls QuadCycle for speeding the development of e-business applications. QuadCycle relies on a repository of proprietary and third-party components and standard architectures to allow rapid assimilation of new technology and business processing developments. A new partnership with e-commerce application developer Intershop will further enhance Unisys’ ability to link back-office and other business systems with electronic storefronts. Unisys is also selling enhanced consulting and implementation services around e- business security issues.

These developments take Unisys into competition with specialist boutique web consultancies such as Scient and Razorfish, as well as more established consultants cum systems integrators including Cambridge Technology Partners and Andersen Consulting.

Despite the opposition, the move could be a significant pointer to future Unisys strategy. According to Ted Bullock, VP and general manager Unisys Global Professional Services, the company is increasingly keen to emphasize its business and IT consulting qualities. Recognized consulting skills are an essential part of an end-to-end service provider’s repertoire and are increasingly seen as necessary to prevent vendors such as Unisys being relegated to the role of infrastructure and support services sub- contractors.

However, while consulting is reportedly one of the fastest growing segments of Unisys’ business, experiencing growth of some 40%-50% last year with a similar rate expected this year, the company faces a difficult challenge to overcome the often jaundiced perceptions it still carries with it.

These new services complement Unisys’ existing architecture, implementation and deployment services, including its recently revised managed service offerings, to provide what it believes is real end-to-end e-business service capability. Unisys needs to see positive uptake of these services, though, following its disappointing third-quarter revenue figures released two weeks ago (CI No 3,769). However, significant recovery is not expected until the second quarter 2000 due to fall-out from Y2K panic. E- business engagements currently make up about 18% of Unisys’ revenue although the company expects this to rise to around 50% in a round two years.

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