Port of Seattle taps IBM as e-business partner

The Port of Seattle has named IBM Corp. as its strategic technology partner to help integrate e-business and technology at its seaport and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Integrating e-business and technology will give the Port of Seattle a chance to be more competitive with seaports across the country for the approximately US$740 billion in cargo that flows through the U.S. annually. The deal will also will help the airport better handle the increasing service expectations of airline customers.

Port of Seattle Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mic Dinsmore said the port will work with IBM on everything from information architecture that supports new services, such as privacy and security issues surrounding Web-based transactions, to developing and implementing Web-based products. The goal of the project is to add value for customers and employees, he added.

"This relationship represents a major step forward in our e-business initiative," Dinsmore said. "We want to move from a quasi-information technology driven institution to a leader."

Dinsmore said the port selected IBM from a field of 10 companies. Finalists included Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp.

"IBM understood the [IT] challenges we were going to experience and they also shared our philosophy of how to treat people and how to enhance value for our customers and employees," Dinsmore said.

The scope of IBM's work under the initial $2 million contract will be to assist the port with all its e-business activities, including delivering five initial pilot projects designed to jump-start the port's development in e-business.

The five projects include development of an internal expense reporting system, creation of a system to manage the hundreds of construction documents generated in support of the $3 billion capital improvement program at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and work on an online parking payment system at the airport. The other two projects involve online reservations systems for various port facilities and services including the Bell Harbor Marina, and for the port's Sea/Air School where teachers can reserve tours for their students to learn about port activities,.

To support these projects, the Port of Seattle commissioners have authorized $10.7 million to cover hardware, software and implementation costs. The five projects are scheduled to be completed by January 2002.

"We are working with the port to do these five pilot projects," said Barbara Read, lead principal, IBM Global Services. "We're deploying consulting teams, project management leadership staff, business analysis and technology folks to [get these projects done] by the end of the year. It's a pretty aggressive and ambitious timetable, but doable."

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