IBM Not So Blue
It hasnt been a stellar year for IBM, but CEO Lou Gerstner says it could have been a lot worse had it not been for a strong performance by the companys services division. IBM recorded $88.4 billion in revenue in 2000 — and $8.1 billion after-tax profit — a minor improvement over the $87.5 billion — and $7.7 billion profit — achieved in 1999. While most divisions experienced modest declines, IBM Global Services saw its revenue climb to $33.2 billion from $32.1 billion a year earlier, and Gerstner says services will continue to be Big Blues "trump card" as the economic seas get rougher. "Whether or not there is a softening of the U.S. economy, IBM should be in reasonably good competitive shape," he said in a report to investors. "Of course, we all hope such a downturn doesnt occur. But if it does, the ebbing tide may not beach all boats." For one thing, Gerstner says, the companys service offerings, such as outsourcing and hosting, are cost-saving propositions for customers. "Services, in this regard, is a counter-cyclical business," he says. "And in a tightening economic environment, customers are going to invest in projects that deliver rock-solid, tangible, near-term payoffs."
Concur Plays Travel Host to 20 Firms
Concur Technologies says it has sold a hosted version of its travel and entertainment expense management software to 20 financial services companies. Under its ASP model, Concur hosts and manages the travel and expense management application for corporations remotely, providing employees with around- the-clock access via a secure Internet connection. Companies signing on for the hosted option include Harris Associates, Nike Securities, Stanford Financial Group, Talbot Financial and Wilshire Financial Services.