NCR restructures services unit

E-business infrastructure provider NCR revamped its IT services business this week, transforming its traditional product support services business to that of e-business infrastructure and management services outfit.

Arguably best known for its point-of-sale, ATM and data warehousing systems, the company's vice president of Asia-Pacific worldwide services, Josh Claman, said the company had to carry the unfavourable perception in the market that NCR was merely a "break/fix solution" organisation.

"We did a lot of multi-vendor [outsourcing] work and the services unit has been around for four years, but the reality was that we weren't adding value to our services," he explained.

The revamped unit, in which NCR has invested $US15 million in the last six months, now holds a more important value proposition to IT executives and CEOs, Claman said. "NCR is now capable of managing an entire IT environment, as opposed to bit and pieces of IT infrastructure," he said.

"Our services division has the capabilities to plan, build, implement and manage robust, turnkey infrastructures for our customers with 500 engineers working for the division in Australia and 2200 in the Asia-Pacific."

Specifically, the services business will manage NCR's own retail and financial solutions for clients as well as third-party, custom-built infrastructure solutions from vendors like Dell, Microsoft, Sun, Nortel and Cisco.

However, the re-launched division will not be without its financial headaches, at least in the short term, Claman said. "Our main concern is on economic growth in the region -- we're seeing a real slowdown in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. Also, if the US and Japan don't pick up in the next year or so, this will have a direct effect on almost all of our customers since they sell heavily into those countries.

"What keeps me awake at night is whether or not customers' spending on [infrastructure] projects is going to slow -- not in hardware sales but in IT services and in consolidating their IT platforms."

Nonetheless, Claman feels the company has performed solidly over the last year, recording 35 per cent annual revenue growth based on 20 large corporate clients like ANZ Bank, AAPT, DaimlerChrysler, SingTel, Microsoft and General Motors. NCR Worldwide Services posted $US2.8 billion in revenue last year with services making up close to half of the company's total earnings.

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