But Szygenda and his cadre of IT executives are thinking of a solution. Theyre calling it IT ERP (enterprise resource planning). Szygenda envisions a suite of applications that encompass project management, service-level-agreement management, operational reporting for problem resolution, and configuration and change management. Tony Scott, GMs chief technology officer, said new software is needed. "Its beyond any one vendor to support and manage, and its beyond one person or a group to comprehend. You really need some digital assistance in this space in order to measure, forecast, deploy and provision in a much more complete form than is available now," Scott said.Dzubeck said several startups have attempted to build software thats similar to what Szygenda is looking for, but in each case, they failed to receive sufficient funding to bring products to the market. But Scott asserted that existing tools are not up to the task. "There are some project management tools, but you need to be more sophisticated than the tools we have today," he said. "Project management tools dont get down to real-time network capacities and do predictive models based on that. "ERP tools might be difficult to adapt," Scott said. "There are certainly principles that could be applied, but I dont see the kind of top-to-bottom support for IT ERP that you would need in anybodys tools today." It also seems clear that GM will need company in the form of other large outsourcing users seeking to go to the third wave. Otherwise, GM would need to have custom code created, and that would severely dent the new economies that Szygenda is seeking. "You could take SAP [AG products] or Siebel [Systems Inc. products] and modify [them], but what Ralph wants is an off-the-shelf buy," said Dzubeck. One IT executive in the financial services industry, Paul King, CIO of government services at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., in New York, said the idea is intriguing. "I am very interested. I understand the concept. Its an extension of supply chain and a little like the way Wal-Mart [Stores Inc.] did it," said King, referring to the process of mandating standards on which different vendors compete. Scott maintained the effort will have to go beyond applications. It will have to encompass standards for providers to follow as they deploy technologies. "When you have multiple outsourcers, theyll implement technologies in different ways. At the end of the day, if Im going to get the best total cost of ownership, Ive got to get multiple outsourcers to support Oracle in the same way," Scott said. "I want a GM template for Oracle. It doesnt matter if its IBM or EDS doing the integration work."
Dzubeck said existing software can do much of this work already. "I disagree that there arent those things now. IBM, EDS have them. Theyre giant scheduling and workflow management systems," he said.