Unilever Taps Syntegra to Manage its Web Presence

Not all e-consulting firms are going the way of the dodo bird or are being
snapped up by giant tech firms.

E-consultant Syntegra proved that Monday when it secured a contract with
Unilever to help the consumer products titan host its Internet and intranet
sites around the world.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Arden Hills, Minn.’s Syntegra will
be busy running the English/Dutch company’s 2,700 Web sites. Syntegra will
lend its Web hosting capabilities to the owner of some of the world’s most
distinctive brands, including Dove soap and Lipton tea.

Dubbed Global Infrastructure Organization (GIO) E-Services, the new deal
will help Unilever maintain the secure standards it desires in its Web
presence by consolidating the infrastructure required to host the existing
Web sites. Unilever currently honors multiple Web hosting agreements with a
number of different companies and would like to make things much simpler.

This deal stems for a broader restructuring from Unilever, which, despite
not being a battered New Economy tech company has been shedding scads of
brands from its portfolio; it has just 900 brands now left in its portfolio
and another 300 set for disposal. If this downsizing comes to fruition it
will mean the company will have pared its brand ownership back from 1,600 to
600 in a little more than a year. That’s nearly a two-thirds decrease in

The company said it is part of a February 2000 “Path to Growth” strategy
that will save it $2.65 billion. The action will cut 25,000 jobs and close
100 factories and help meet group goals of 5 to 6 percent annual sales
growth, operating margins of over 16 percent and earnings per share growth
of least 10 percent.

Unilever’s choice of Syntegra was perhaps an easy one; the two firms already
enjoy an existing consultant-client relationship and Syntegra is well
respected as a member of British Telecommunications plc.’s fleet of firms.

While the majority of Unilever’s Web sites provide product- and
brand-specific information for people all over the world, the company also
maintains a number of intranet sites that help the firm’s thousands of
employees collaborate with one another. Putting these under the sole aegis
of Syntegra would alleviate pressure and time spent on internal projects for
systems administrators.

Free from additional administrative tasks, these managers will be able to
focus on the killer category — content. In early going, the majority of
E-Services’ resources will come from Syntegra, with a gradual evolution to
the majority of the work being done by Unilever’s GIO.

“Our brands – like Dove, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton and Pond’s – are known
the world over and are prized assets. This partnership will be key in
enabling the future development of brands through all our Internet
activities,” said Martin Armitage, senior vice president of Unilever and
head of the GIO.

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