C & W Optus plans e-business with IBM

Cable & Wireless Optus aims to work with IBM Australia to develop its e-business capabilities, following signing a five year outsourcing deal worth $750m with the service provider .

Chris Bird, chief information officer, Optus,said that IBM might assist Optus' business areas with the development of e-business products and services to sell on to the customer base, as well as increasing web enablement in Optus' internal business.

"We look forward to benefiting from IBM's global IT expertise, particularly in the telecommunications and e-business areas" he said.

According to Bird, the outsourcing contract places IBM as Optus' prime supplier and integrator on the applications side of Optus' business.

The contract, signed late last month, covers application development and services for Optus' IT systems, and includes implementation of a fully integrated billing system.

Optus will retain control over IT strategy, architecture, planning and quality control.

Under the contract, effective from March 1999, IBM will take over management of Optus' other applications service providers, including EDS.

EDS and Optus formed a five-year partnership in July 1997 to develop a convergent billing system to cover telecommunications, entertainment and information services.

Bird said that IBM and Optus will be reviewing the database and platform on which the billing system runs.

"We are looking at the capacity of the environment and ensuring the solution will meet the demands of the business" said Bird.

Bird does not expect any redundancies to result from the deal.

"We've gone to IBM to get more capacity and we expect IBM to build up staff quite significantly over the next year" said Bird.

IBM has worked with Optus on applications in the areas of billing, pay TV and credit control for the past five or six years according to Bird, and already has around 150 staff working at Optus.

IBM Australia's deal with C&W Optus adds to the global alliance between IBM and Cable & Wireless.

In September 1998 British telecommunications and cable TV provider, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), based in London, signed a $US3 billion, 10-year outsourcing deal with IBM in which the service provider took over management of the company's entire IT infrastructure and international customer support.

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