EDS and CRM: A Price on a Flub

June 15, 2010

The likelihood of an enterprise software flop seems to be inching upwards. Busy 30-something MBAs are so busy. Accountants eager to manage costs see a programmer shooting USB rockets from his cubicle and chop some heads. Overworked chief technology officers quit returning phone calls and ignore email. Welcome to information technology in the last half of 2010.

Search and content management have become potential career sink holes. I wanted to capture this anecdote about another red ink inducing enterprise application, CRM or customer relationship management. We know what CRM means, right? No humans at the end of the line. Phone menu trees that are unworkable except for a person specifically paid by me to sit there and press buttons until we can get a human to answer a question about a financial transaction.

Navigate to this fascinating news story, which if true, makes clear how perilous short cuts and azure chip assertions can become: “ESA to Pay $460 Million over CRM Failure.” Even in today’s trillion dollar deficits, a company spitting out a half a billion dollars catches my attention. The idea is that Hewlett Packard, the ink company, wants to be an azure chip consultant. To achieve that goal, the company bought the econo-consultant, EDS, the progeny of an idiosyncratic entrepreneur and would-be president of the United States, Ross Perot. HP, the ink company, has learned that talking is much easier than doing.

Here’s the key passage in the write up, which if true, makes it clear that HP may want to stick with ink and toner:

System integrator, EDS, now owned by Hewlett-Packard, agreed to pay UK-based broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) a total of $460.3 million to settle its lawsuit over a failed CRM project.

My hunch is that the azure chip crowd will say, “Not us.” We’ll see.

Stephen E Arnold, June 15, 2010



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