While Computer Associates (CA) scans the market for acquisitions to push its services business into the first tier, the company continues to draft ambitious plans to transform itself into a product company that can credibly offer vendor-neutral services.
Despite the $US4.7 billion company's significant war chest, the missing ingredient - a large, established services company on which to base its expanded operations - still eludes the network and systems management software giant.
CA, in April last year, launched its Global Professional Services (GPS) division, which faces the task of consolidating the company's internal services resources with the various acquisitions designed to meet its lofty professional services goals.
However, the company still has a long way to go. According to CA officials, services accounted for only about 5 per cent of the company's $US1.2 billion revenue for the fiscal quarter, which ended Sept 30.
To raise that percentage, CA needs to overcome its reputation for placing its own products first, according to analysts.
"They might wind up being agnostic, but it's the market-perception issue - and they would have to work really hard to convince customers," said Siew-Joo Tan, an analyst at International Data Corp (IDC).
This year, GPS plans to focus on consulting, technical services, educational services, and outsourcing, according to Suzanne Cassiello, director of GPS marketing at CA.
Getting its advanced guard in order, the company is beefing up its recently formed business assessment and consulting (BAC) group, which is headed by the company's senior vice president and general manager, Ajit Maira.
The BAC group will apply some of the artificial intelligence monitoring and 3D visualisation technologies of CA's flagship TNG Unicenter systems management product to the task of assessing an overall business, Maira said. He stressed that the group will avoid steering customers exclusively toward CA products in its technical recommendations.
Build a CA product
Based on the BAC group assessment, customers will be advised to "build a CA product or technically agnostic product", Cassiello said.
Maintenance and outsourcing will be handled by CA or one of its service partners, according to Cassiello, who said CA is close to announcing deals with established players in those areas, but declined to specify what those deals may be.
Separately, the company's GPS education group will also make extensive use of CA's artificial intelligence and 3D visualisation software, according to Terry Seppala, senior vice president and general manager for education services.
CA's professional services strategy
Consulting: assemble 100-plus person business assessment and consulting group from CA staff; use advanced CA technology for consulting engagements.
Technical services: provide development and integration, including focus on integration of existing systems, partnerships for supply-chain management, and electronic business.
Educational services: use artificial intelligence and 3D technology to branch out from CA product training to multivendor product training and broader training offerings, including non-IT.
Outsourcing: offer services through CA and/or partners.