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EDS Targets Holiday E-Commerce with Solutions, Alliances

Gearing up for what most analysts have predicted to be record-shattering e-commerce sales for the holidays, Electronic Data Systems Tuesday waged a full-on treatment of digital Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services -- inking seven strategic alliances to power them.

Rolling out the solutions from the Electronic Commerce World Conference in Orlando, Fla., EDS said it is looking to corner mammoth sales in a sector that IDC claims is a $35 billion market.

The crux of the seven solutions include turnkey and outsourced services that empower companies to manage sustained approach to business, centered around the all-important customer.

And EDS made sure it got the right help with market leaders Lucent's enterprise spinoff Avaya, ServiceWare Technologies Inc., Siebel Systems Inc., McHugh Inc., NCR Corp., Retek Inc. and Servicesoft Inc.

The breakdown of the partnerships is as follows:
  • Avaya -- EDS will use Avaya's CentreVu™ Internet Solutions and CRM Central 2000 software to streamline and intelligently manage incoming and outgoing customer contacts over multiple communications channels, including fax, phone, Web and e-mail
  • ServiceWare -- EDS will integrate ServiceWare's Web-based eService Suite(C) into client customer interaction center and CRM programs
  • Siebel -- Siebel will provide desktop and front office CRM solutions encompassing call center, sales and field service automation, marketing automation, and applications for dot-com, e-channel, and industry-specific engagements
  • McHugh -- EDS will incorporate the McHugh multi-client warehouse management system for real-time inventory tracking and reverse logistics in the company's warehousing facilities in Fairfield, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; and Clarion, Iowa
  • NCR Corp. -- EDS will offer NCR's data warehousing capabilities to CRM clients
  • Retek Inc. -- Retek will provide EDS clients with real-time, online order management systems and web-enabled product fulfillment tools
  • Servicesoft Inc. -- EDS will incorporate the Servicesoft 2001 integrated suite of Internet customer service solutions into its clients' customer interaction center and CRM programs

"Once a CRM vision is established, core components like contact management and sales force automation are implemented first, with a strategy for augmenting the solution over time," said Mark Coggin, vice president with META Group Consulting.

"In order to cope with this stepwise lifecycle, firms looking to implement CRM must engage a strategic services partner who has strengths along the entire CRM lifecycle -- from vision and strategy, through integration and implementation, to operation and outsourcing of specific CRM-related business processes."

Yankee Group Program Manager of Customer Resource Management Sheryl Kingstone told InternetNews.com Tuesday that EDS' solution appears to be a robust package -- good enough, even to compete with rivals Andersne Consulting and IBM.

"They've partnered with some good companies," Kingstone said. "There is a lot of competition and they don't want to give it to IBM and Andersen consulting."

After 35 years in the business, EDS seems to be well aware of that fact.

Apparently liking EDS' strategy, Goldman Sachs' Tuesday decided to add the stock to its "U.S. recommended for purchase list," trumping its previous "market outperformer" rating. The firm offered no further details about the reasons for the upgrade. However this didn't seem to help the perennial firm's stock much -- midday trading saw shares of EDS down slightly under 1 percent.