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Issue Date: February 2008

QA Duncan Tait, Unisys

28 February 2008
Janine Milne

Unisys has come to the end of a three-year major restructuring program to turn around the fortunes of its services business. Duncan Tait, general manager for the UK, Middle East and Africa talks about the success of the turnaround and the company's plans for the future.
Q. Unisys' fortunes have been pretty rocky over recent years, so what makes Unisys a relevant company today and for the future?
A. You are witnessing the greatest turnaround in the IT industry for the last couple of decades. Although we do not shout about it, we have a significant effect on the customers and economies in which we operate. For instance, UK banking would stop tomorrow and make the credit crunch look minor. The 999 emergency system would not work either.
Q. You started a major restructuring program a few years ago, what are the results of those changes?
A. We began the strategy in 2005, largely because the market had changed. Unisys had already changed from being a provider of technology to services. No one else had made the move from 80% technology in the mid-90s to 80% services.
The restructuring makes us a much more focused company. Our Q4 results a couple of weeks ago show that the restructuring is biting now as we had double-digit growth.
Since the restructuring, our ability to move rapidly is our key differentiator with our competitors.
We are extremely focused on deep relationships in particular vertical markets. We have shrunk back to 500 clients globally. We are concentrating on a few verticals: financial services, transport and telcos, commercial services, and public sector. So now we have 500 accounts globally in three verticals. Equally, we have shrunk down what it is we sell from many things to five things: IT and BPO outsourcing, solutions for Microsoft, security, realtime infrastructure, and open source. We have also reduced our alliance partners to just nine. In 2005, we had a workforce of 37 000 and now about 30 000.
So the bulk of restructuring is now done, but there is always fine-tuning to be done. Today, 31% of our revenues come from consulting and systems integration, 42% from outsourcing, and then infrastructure is 18%, and the remainder core maintenance.
What is great is that we are now attracting and keeping people to the company and taken some sales guys from the competitors because it is an exciting place to be, and exciting to work for a company that is clear about what it is up to.
Q. How is business going in the UK market?
A. In the UK, we are focused on the public sector on the police and security and clearly the market for that is growing. We work with all 43 police forces. We would like to see our transportation business grow faster in the UK.
Q. How much work do you offshore?
A. The target was to get 20% offshore and we are about 17%-18% so we are on track to achieve that. There is some work we cannot offshore for legal reasons, but every piece of work that can be is offshored on day one to Budapest or Bangalore. We also have operations in Latin America and China, but for Europe, the market is predominantly Budapest and Bangalore.
Q. So what are your plans for the coming year?
A. We are going to stick to our strategy of having five areas and our 500 clients. We have a policy of taking some people off the list and adding new ones, but we will keep that 500 client number constant. One of our strengths is that a lot of customers have been with us a long time. LloydsTSB has been a customer for over 100 years and so has Skipton Building Society. This company has been around itself for 130 years.
Source: Computergram

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