EDS standardises global support centres

Two weeks after announcing layoffs and other cost-cutting moves, Electronic Data Systems detailed plans to rely more on facilities located outside the US to provide application development and call centre services to clients on a global basis.

The outsourcing vendor is pursuing a five-year, $US100 million plan to grow its business by standardising its global call centres and support centres, six of which are located in Australia.

The new initiative, called Best Shore is designed to help EDS have a "consistent delivery model worldwide", said Paula Kruger, president of the company's customer relationship management group.

Today, EDS has more than 250 centres where support is provided to customers around the world, although hardware, software and other services can differ from location to location, Kruger said.

Many customers, though, have their own facilities around the world and require more service consistency from their IT vendors, Kruger said.

"We'll be looking at which are the optimal locations to serve clients, where they need it, when they need it -- and it's always going to be state-of-the-art," Kruger said. With EDS providing consistency, customers will be able to contract for services anywhere with EDS and be sure of getting what they need," she said.

"We see tremendous opportunity in this space, and we think that by doing this and making this investment, we will be the vendor of choice," Kruger said.

By standardising the company's offshore development work, this gives developers "the tools, devices and language to do [application] work round the clock, and offer specific expertise and testing skills for different industries such as financial services or manufacturing," EDS Asia-Pacific South spokesman Brian Finn said.

Under the initiative, EDS will open new offshore service centres around the world. The first is set to open with 200 workers next year in Mumbai, India with staff numbers jumping to 700 by 2004.

EDS Australia's software development centre in South Australia is one of the company's centres of excellence under the Best Shore initiative.

By standardising on hardware, processes and applications, EDS hopes to gain cost savings from primary vendors that can be leveraged to keep EDS prices down for its own customers, Kruger said.

From now and into next year, the company's Australian and New Zealand support operations are receiving a jobs push of 200 more developers, 70 of those places have already been filled in South Australia, Finn said.

Yankee Group analyst Andrew Efstathiou said EDS's standardisation strategy is aimed at controlling costs and pricing.

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