PracticeConsultingIT portfolio: Tower of Abell

IT portfolio: Tower of Abell

Maurice Abell, UK chief, talks about Cap Gemini's latest projects

The unique selling proposition of the Cap Gemini Group is not just solutions, but the provision of those solutions, and their complete running over time,” says Maurice Abell, Cap Gemini UK’s new CEO. “In the new world of e-business, supporting strategy, solutions and their delivery vehicle is what’s important now.”

Cap Gemini recently swallowed up Ernst & Young’s 18,000-head consulting practice, and set up a joint venture with Cisco where 4,600 Cap Gemini staff will provide a range of services for the telecoms and media industry, as well as set up e-business solutions and IT infrastructures. The company’s has also transferred 1,250 of its “best” into a single “e-business” unit that will bid, win and deliver key strategic deals.

The work done with Open Interactive, Britannic Assurance, Virgin Trains and General Motors Europe demonstrates the range of e-business and infrastructure skills on offer.

“For example, we convinced Open Interactive that our skills with interactive TV clearly lay in the e-business space, and that the combination of those skills-in terms of generating solutions and then being able to give them (Open) the comfort that we will continue to provide this service at the levels they need over time-could only come from the combination of content provision and track record of running systems,” says Abell. “We’ve helped develop their solutions and set up their service, and we are now responsible for the running of it for a number of years. Yes, the solutions are there but Open needs high availability, a 24-hour operation, and clearly the systems are absolutely mission-critical.”

See Management Consultancy website for case studies.Return to the Management Consultancy websiteCLIENT: Britannic Assurance


Britannic Assurance began life in 1866, and now has over 1.5 million customers who are looked after by 2,000 financial advisors. “As our customers’ needs change, we change-through improvements to our product range, and the ways people can buy them from us. That’s why we continue to grow,” boasts chief executive Brian Shaw.

It perhaps comes as no surprise then in an ultra-competitive, fast-changing market that to increase the number of savings, pensions and investment policies sold, making a field sales force more effective usually means an investment in IT accompanied by an appropriate change programme to help seal the implementation.


New interactive point-of-sale technology is being implemented on laptops to give Britannic’s sales force access to a much simplified customer review process, as well as provide contact management and sales activity management functions to significantly improve their effectiveness and productivity. The new technology (hardware and software) is being introduced with training, and its roll-out to the company’s entire sales force will be complete by April 2000.

The new systems, developed by Britannic Assurance in partnership with Cap Gemini’s Insurance Division, help advisers and their clients to explore different financial options, answer “what if?” questions and review the costs and benefits of different product options. The point-of-sale system components are an enhanced and customised version of the IPSIS insurance package from Crisp Computer Solutions. The laptops are equipped with a DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) drive to offer full-screen video, high-quality images, sound track and clear, vivid graphics.

Britannic has also fully integrated the laptop computers with its back office systems by using Cap Gemini’s own Home software. Proposal information is transferred overnight to Britannic’s new business processing systems so reducing turnaround times and eliminating errors if financial advisers have to re-key in information. The system also provides automatic links to the laptop from head office, to notify financial advisers of customer or policy events that will prompt new contacts with the customer.

New business has increased by 36 percent. Britannic Assurance is now on target to double sales of its savings, pensions and investment policies.

The company also reports administrative gains from the new system: departments can access the data that they require online, enabling some processing activities to be conducted in parallel and eliminating new business “paper chases” between head office departments.

And customer information only needs to be captured once at the point of sale. For subsequent customer reviews, the information available on the laptop will have automatically been updated from back office systems and this will only have to be updated with changes in the individual customer’s circumstances.

Managing change effectively has also been key to the project’s smooth running.

“How you roll this kind of implementation out to the sales force is key to its success,” says Kim Gray, head of business consulting in Cap Gemini’s financial services practice. “You can get different bands of people reacting differently to it, so the trick is knowing this is going to happen and being confident you know how manage it properly.”

Gray adds: “Productivity can take a dive during the implementation period (in Britannic’s case, two years) when you’re trying to get the technology and processes bedded in. We knew how to mitigate against this- it s a unique selling point for us.”

Return to the Management Consultancy websiteCLIENT: General Motors Europe (GME)


Assured continuity of supply for the 80,000-plus components used at the 25 manufacturing plants of General Motors Europe (GME) is clearly vital to the company’s commercial success. Any disruption can have severe effects on the company’s supply chain, leading to emergency component delivery costs (such as air freight), excess overtime and even lost car production.

“Like other automotive companies, we source a lot of our parts and components externally. It is important that we make sure on the one hand we have ample capacity within the supply chain to make sure we can produce buildable production schedules, and that we don’t have to cancel because we don’t have the parts,” says GME’s applications design manager, John Harriman.

Naturally, the company’s capacity planners, based at GME’s HQ in Russelsheim, Germany, were receiving regular updates from their 2,000 component suppliers, but they lacked systems that could automatically link the supply situation to demand (ie. to GME’s own production schedules). Supply information was pouring in using a variety of disparate formats, and the volume of manual work was considerable-therefore input was slow and prone to error.


It was clearly time for GME to have a systems rethink and as a result the Camas project was born. Cap Gemini developed the Oracle8i-based application which compares suppliers’ capacity, component-by-component, to GME’s production demands-and then uses that comparison to predict possible shortfalls and bottlenecks.

In addition to routine week-by-week capacity planning, GME’s planners can use Camas to model certain “what if?”) scenarios (ie. the effect different sales hypotheses, or a change in the marketing mix of models and specifications, would have on component supply).

Camas has rapidly become an indispensable part of GME’s capacity planning process for every single vehicle and therefore of the company’s entire car manufacturing operations. There is now hugely increased visibility and understanding of suppliers’ capacities and significantly reduced risk of supply problems adversely impacting upon the smooth running of GME’s production schedules.

In successfully completing the entire project, Cap Gemini was able to meet GME’s demanding and constantly changing timescales. It also completed the project within budget.

Cap Gemini also scored three important firsts at GME:

l Camas is the first successful application of its Integration Hub concept-and one of only two such hubs in General Motors worldwide. The hub is a clever concept which links together different GM systems, including legacy systems (for the automatic input of data vital to the smooth functioning of Camas) without the need for a mass of complex and expensive point-to-point interfaces.

l The Camas project was also the first use of the i2 Technologies supply chain optimisation tool (for the simulations and what-if? analyses) which could be of considerable interest elsewhere in GM, as well as the first successful application of the Cognos reporting tool (already standard in GM) in a web-enabled environment.

“With Cognos, we’d like to try and provide users with the ability to data mine, explore, manipulate and present data far more powerfully than they’ve been used to using mainframe systems,” says Harriman.

l Of huge significance for the future of supply chain management throughout GM, Camas also gives GME the power to web-enable communications with suppliers, thereby enabling it to win the very significant cost and time-saving benefits it seeks. Return to the Management Consultancy websiteCLIENT: Open Interactive


Jointly owned by BSkyB, BT, HSBC and Matsushita, Open Interactive launched the first full range of interactive television services nationwide. These include shopping, banking, interactive games and e-mail services. However, starting its operation from scratch meant the company had relatively few IT resources in-house.


In January 1999 Open Interactive outsourced the management, support and development of its entire IT infrastructure to Cap Gemini.

“Outsourcing our IT will enable us to focus on the creative and innovative aspects of our new service,” said James Ackerman, Open Interactive’s CEO. “Cap Gemini was awarded the contract because of its in-depth understanding of broadcast media, its proven record in providing 24 hour reliability for mission-critical systems and its successful completion of specific projects on our behalf over the last two years.”

Cap Gemini has taken on a range of consulting roles, advising on billing, call centre and MIS management. It also took on aspects of the company’s service creation, content management including commissioning and delivery, online broadcasting and transaction management systems. As well as providing ongoing support for Open Interactive’s hardware platform and operating system, including help desk support, Cap Gemini is also one of Open’s prime IT contractors, co-ordinating and managing the work of sub-contractor companies such as BT Broadcast Services, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. Open’s main hardware platform comprises Compaq Alpha mainframe servers. The systems are running at a secure Cap Gemini data centre and at the BT Tower in central London.

Return to the Management Consultancy website

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