Unisys explores global service centres in Europe, Chi

Unisys Corp. is exploring setting up global service centres in Eastern Europe and China as part of its strategy to offer customers multishore, outsourced services, according to an executive of the Blue Bell, Penn.-based IT services company.

“Other locations we are looking at are Malaysia and the Philippines,” Cal Killen, Unisys’ vice president for solution development and Unisys Global Services, told reporters Monday in Bangalore, India. “If earlier we had to market the offshore alternative to our customers, now they are demanding it,” Killen said.

Unisys already has operations in China, Malaysia and the Philippines, but the focus of these operations is on local markets, unlike the proposed global service centres, which would focus on offshore delivery of services. In Malaysia, for example, the company has a small business process outsourcing (BPO) group that offers services to a large local bank, Killen said.

The choice of location and the schedule for setting up the new global services centres will depend on customer demand for offshore services from these locations, according to Killen. For example, the company will decide on a location in Eastern Europe, depending on the European language that needs to be supported from this facility, Killen said.

The global service centre in Eastern Europe will focus on services for European customers, many of whom prefer to outsource work to a location within the European Union, Killen added.

In China, the company is considering setting up a number of small centres, according to Killen, who added that the focus of the centres in China will be on the company’s customers in Japan. China has some locations like Dalian that are geared toward handling services for customers in Japan, said Killen, adding that the company’s centres in China are also likely to do software development, particularly double-byte enabling of software, for other markets in the region such as Taiwan and Korea.

However, the company’s first global services centre in Bangalore will continue to be its largest, Killen said.

Unisys’ strategy in India is to deliver services by a combination of in-house staff at its facility in Bangalore, and staff from partner Indian services companies working at the partners’ facilities, according to Lawrence Weinbach, the company’s chairman. The company currently has 1,150 people in India doing work for its customers and for its own in-house requirement, of which about 150 staff are its own staff, working out of its Bangalore facility, Weinbach said.

The company plans to step up the number of staff at its Bangalore facility to 1,000 by the end of this year, taking the total number of staff, including partner’s staff on its work, to about 2,000 by the end of this year, according to Weinbach.

The company also plans to more than double its services staff in India to about 4,500 over the next three years, with close to half of the staff still coming from its partners and working at partner facilities. ” We give our customers a choice of having the services delivered by our own captive organization, or by our partners, or a combination of both, ” Weinbach said.

Unisys offers application and systems software development and maintenance, technical help desk, information technology outsourcing and BPO services from India. Some of Unisys own in-house work, such as the development of system software for its server business, is also done by the Bangalore centre or by its partners in India, Weinbach said.

A number of IT services companies, such as Accenture Ltd. in Bermuda and Perot Systems Corp. in Plano, Texas, run parts of their outsourced services business from their facilities in India.