Unisys Helps Customers Adjust to Change

Its Business Blueprinting strategy is aimed at helping large customers better adjust to changing business environments.

Unisys Corp., along with partners IBM and Microsoft Corp., Tuesday will launch a software and services initiative aimed at helping large customers better adjust to changing business environments.

The Business Blueprinting strategy builds on Unisys growing business process outsourcing presence by offering a set of models for taking business processes and mapping them onto a set of applications and their supporting technology infrastructure to make them more adaptable to business changes.

"The key is how to create applications that can keep changing on a month-by-month basis to keep pace with the business change of our core customers," said Fred Dillman, vice president of technology and architecture at Unisys in Blue Bell, Pa. Unisys primarily serves customers in vertical industries that see frequent change, including financial services, telecommunications, airlines and transportation, and commercial and media, as well as the public sector, Dillman added.

The initiative draws on several industry standards. In the modeling world, that includes the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), which allow models to be built independent of the tools used to create them.

Microsoft will support the initiative with its .Net and Visual Studio tools, and IBM will support it with its WebSphere and J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-based tool sets from its Rational Software acquisition. "Both will say the idea of the way you build out models in an industry standard way and map business processes onto these infrastructures is what the tools are designed to do," said Dillman.

As part of its initiative, Unisys is developing 14 applications based on a service-oriented architecture that allows different elements to be swapped in and out so that customers can have a mix of Unisys software and legacy investments that they want to protect.

The applications address life insurance and pension plan administration, property and casualty insurance, banking and mortgage processing, enterprise payments, airline reservations, health claim management, health and human services, justice and public safety, tax and revenue management, registry and ID, cargo security, multimedia messaging, newspaper and Web publishing, and integrated trade replenishment.

"Unisys provides consulting and building up applications to automate key business processes of our users," Dillman said. "We can take any one of the 14 applications built using a business process management approach to a customer and build an application for them, or take a prebuilt application and the models and then modify the application for them. Or we offer them as part of business process outsourcing, where the customers take the blueprint models and we operate it for them."

"Business Blueprints are repeatable reference architectures and business processes for different vertical industries," said John Madden, industry analyst with Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston. "Say you want to set up a new human resources system. There is a set of methodologies that look at what you need to do to put it in action and know what IT components you need to put it in place. The blueprints allow faster deployment of IT systems related to the business processes."

Madden believes the Unisys Business Blueprinting applications are unique compared with competitors such as Accenture and Computer Sciences Corp., which provide methodologies and consulting services rather than "prepackaged solutions," he said. Such offerings should lower the cost of an engagement, he added.

The applications include "a market basket of components built on J2EE that can be put together with the models we build out of core business processes," Dillman said. The J2EE components can be customized and put together in flexible ways. "The service-oriented architecture lets us remove certain components of the application we built and replace them with the customers components using XML and integration services," he added.