EDS Is Using Portals to Bolster Partner Relationships
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At the recent DCI Corporate and e-Business Portals conference in Chicago, technology services leader EDS Corp. provided one of the strong examples for improving both customer relationships and internal cohesiveness by improving the organization and structure of Web portals. EDS began its portal overhaul in June 2000 because, like many large companies, it let its intranet and customer-facing sites spiral out of control while maintaining only loose coordination between business and technical objectives. Internally, thousands of Web sites were managed outside the purview of the CIO, and with no consistent standards. On the external side, there were 10 independent Web operations based on country of operation--a largely flat, noninteractive experience--and an organization that looked more like the EDS chain of command than a reflection of customer needs. To make matters worse, EDS management was stung when research firm Kensington Group ranked its customer portal dead last among 13 technology service providers. To support the new face of the company, EDS created a portal support team that aggressively works to improve the overall Web experience and pushes new ideas out to the business units, rather than working in the reactive mode of the old Web-site group. Although EDS opted to improve its public Web presence first, both the intranet (infoCentre) and customer (my-eds.com) sites are built on a common infrastructure from Epicentric. This allows the company to make improvements at the operational level like bolstering the content taxonomy or security that is instantly shared across both sites. Similarly, each user interface layer is separate from the other, and from the processing and infrastructure layers, meaning they can be altered without having to delve into the low-level management of the portal. EDS demolished its old brochureware look and chose a design based on visitor categories like prospect, customer, or analyst, as well as a community-of-interest concept. Internally, the infoCentre manages standards and practices for publishing news and papers to the corporate portal as well as the world at large, and acts as a front end for HR tasks like pay-stub viewing and requisitions, and training. One of the key new features of both the customer and employee portals is a Service Excellence Dashboard, where customers can instantly rate their satisfaction with the EDS project team. The satisfaction status level is graded on a simple green-yellow-red scale, and that input is visible to relevant internal EDS personnel. "The chairman can see that, so it motivates you to get going pretty quickly," says Thomas Hoglund, chief knowledge officer of EDS's solutions consulting division. After laying the organizational groundwork both the internal and external portals took just three months each to launch, and Hoglund estimated the combined return and savings on the project at $53 million. But perhaps more important, EDS's standing in the Kensington poll rose from worst to second place. The next phase of the project will break the Web operation into three worldwide regional hubs that share central standards, but can offer content and customer responsiveness to better suit local customers.
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