A Plan to Meld Business, IT

Unisys' 'blueprint' to align groups' goals.

Unisys Corp. is launching a services and software initiative designed to more closely align a businesss IT infrastructure with its overall business strategy.

At an event here last week, Unisys unveiled its Business Blueprinting strategy, a plan for helping companies map their business processes and goals. As part of that plan, it will help customers construct an IT environment that pushes those goals and is flexible enough to change when business demands do.

"What were really talking about here is how ... we get IT to support business strategy [and] business vision," Lawrence Weinbach, Unisys chairman, president and CEO, told a crowd of more than 300 people. "How do we develop something and see how it ... all fits together?"

Businesses have been hobbled by a number of events over the past few years, including the massive technology purchases fueled by Y2K, the rise of the Internet and the burst of the dot-com bubble, Weinbach said. Forrester Research Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., estimates companies overpaid for technology by $60 billion during that time.

The goal of Business Blueprinting is to enable companies to create environments where their IT resources can adapt quickly to business needs and market shifts.

Unisys will use its experience in vertical markets—including transportation, financial services and the public sector—to map out business process models and create customizable software packages to enable IT to align with those processes. The Blue Bell, Pa., company also is creating applications that can be swapped in and out depending on the needs of the company, giving the customer a mix of Unisys software and legacy technology, said Joe McGrath, corporate executive vice president, Unisys Enterprise Transformation Services.

Unisys is also building preintegrated packages that can be used and reused by companies in various vertical markets. For example, a revenue management package used in California could be reused by another state, McGrath said.

Aligning business strategy with IT is a growing theme in the industry. Officials with Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., beat that drum when they introduced the companys Adaptive Enterprise initiative and spoke of making IT more flexible to meet the changing demands of business. It is also why IBM and Microsoft Corp. threw their support behind Unisys last week. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is tailoring its Rational Enterprise Suite to work with Business Blueprinting, and Unisys is using IBMs WebSphere as a platform for deploying Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition applications. Unisys also will incorporate Microsofts .Net developments tools, BizTalk Server and Windows Server into the strategy.

Microsoft and Unisys also are collaborating on the Team Jupiter Lab, a joint development and integration site in Redmond, Wash. The lab will enable developers to create and deploy software that uses BizTalk Server 2004 and that is based on the next generation of Microsofts e-business software, code-named Jupiter, said Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of Microsofts platform strategy and business group.

McGrath said that internally and with some early customers, such as ING North America Insurance Corp., the initiative has resulted in productivity improvements of 75 to 100 percent and cost savings of 25 to 60 percent.

Unisys initiative is a continuation of the companys growing emphasis on services, which accounted for more than 75 percent of Unisys $5.6 billion in revenue last year, according to John Madden, an analyst with Summit Strategies Inc. "They know business process, and they know how to cobble together repeatable processes to take the costs out for the customers," said Madden, in Boston.

Senior Editor Paula Musich contributed to this report.