Dr Who helps EDS spice-up ‘legacy’ image

Rather than just taking a share of the business already there, EDS plans to alert customers to new benefits ICT can provide, says CEO

EDS wants to change its image to that of a modern, go-ahead integration company.

Its image has been rather duller than this — that of a “legacy-oriented” organisation which props up systems transplanted from mainframes. The company also aims to move into “market-creation mode”, says New Zealand CEO Steve Murray. Rather than just taking a share of the business already there, EDS plans to alert customers to new benefits ICT can provide.

In presenting its new vision for the future, EDS had BBC television’s Dr Who greet the media. He was not actually the real TV time-traveller, but he did serve to introduce the company’s new theme, “The Workplace of the Future”, appropriately. Perhaps the Doctor’s ability to change bodies when confronted by circumstances fatal to a less flexible life-form was also part of the message here.

EDS showed a demonstration set-up, which it plans to use to show the benefits of a connected, partly mobile, office network to prospective customers — in the hope they will then get EDS to help them realise this futuristic vision.

Based mainly around Microsoft Sharepoint, the demonstration network showed how video-calls could be set up; instant messages exchanged, and files transferred between departments at the head office of a fictional organisation, as well as to and from a branch office, a salesperson on the road and a home worker. Sub-tasks could be delegated and their results melded smoothly into a complex final report.

It was, basically, the standard paperless office-of-the-future stuff, as demonstrated by many companies before, but with a few improvements, such as a more effective videoconferencing system and a “presence-aware” capability, whereby the system records, in real-time, who is at what location, and what ICT equipment they have, so the communication mode can be adjusted appropriately.

EDS also pushed the message about the benefits of thin clients. The simulated branch office was equipped with only a notebook-size Sun Microsystems SunRay processor, which pulled necessary information from a remote server. By inserting an ID card into the machine, someone visiting from another office could instantly bring up their individual desktop layout, with all the pertinent documents.

“The concept of a desk is gone,” said an EDS demonstrator. “Your office is where you are.”

SunRay’s low power consumption, and the claimed 80% utilisation of a shared server, also let EDS push an energy-saving Green message, too.

The corporate message is that EDS worldwide has “moved up the food chain” and is now thinking at a strategic level, on behalf of its clients and prospects, said Murray. Demonstrations similar to the New Zealand one are being held worldwide. Ours has been tweaked only to the extent of putting Kiwi accents into voice-mail responses.

The “future” move takes EDS out of a sub-optimal market. But, Murray agreed, the company has now moved into a fiercely competitive arena, where many other integrators are already active.

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