Unisys CEO plans to bolster company's bottom line

Unisys CEO Joe McGrath Wednesday detailed a strategy for improving his company's bottom line, including one initiative that involves making security systems developed for the government available to the private sector.

Unisys intends to start leveraging technology developed for the government in areas such as identity and biometrics -- including facial recognition -- to private-sector companies that have a need for high security.

In making such a move, Unisys will be competing in an industry that's already crowded with vendors selling security products. But Fred Dillman, chief technology officer at the Blue Bell, Pa.-based enterprise vendor, said his company's advantage is its experience in deploying security technologies among government agencies and integrating them with enterprise systems.

Dillman said Unisys plans to take its government experience and apply it to the private sector. In particular, he said there's a need for biometric security in the financial services and pharmaceutical industries.

Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, who has examined Unisys' security offerings, said 80% of the company's security focus has been in the public sector, where it's well known. But he questioned the private-sector need for such high-end security, saying that what Unisys offers "is fairly limited, and it's not like there is no competition."

However, one area that Unisys does specialize in, identity and access management, "is a burgeoning market in the private sector," he said, noting that the government is doing a lot of standardizing of employee credentials.

Unisys, however, hasn't done a good job of getting its expertise across to the private sector, said Oltsik, who added that's something the company will have to fix. "You wouldn't think of Unisys as the solution provider unless you knew otherwise," he said. "They really need to do a better job at getting the word out."

Unisys announced a series of other initiatives intended to strengthen its services offerings, Linux platforms and its relationships with some of its business partners, including Microsoft. The company last week announced a partnership with NEC to develop high-end systems, a move that may lead to a migration off CMOS chips to Intel for its mainframe customers.

Unisys is facing financial pressure, having reported a third-quarter loss of US$54 million last month on revenue of US$1.39 billion. The company is cutting 10% of its staff, or about 3,600 people.

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