E&Y plans Ernie pilot for US multinationals

Autumn 1998 will see Ernst & Young start piloting Ernie, its interactive, online business consultancy service, within multinational firms with centres in the US.

“During the six-month pilot scheme we will be assessing what mix of services and features are right for large multinationals,” said Brian Baum, the director of business development for online consulting services. “Although the pilot is for US-based firms, there will an opportunity for other European firms to come in; there will be users outside the US.”

E&Y, which introduced an Internet-based self-service consulting offering for companies with annual revenues of less than $200m in 1996, now aims to expand its service globally. Currently it has 1,300 paying subscribers.

Each company subscription to Ernie allows up to four people to use the service.

“We have not fully developed our strategy for global deployment,” said Baum.

He thinks that the two main consulting services of interest to multinationals are: selecting an Enterprise Resource Planning package; and the supply chain diagnostic which can be used as industry standards barometer.

“Any consultant engagement which involves selecting an ERP package will cost a firm $150,000; with Ernie it’s $4,000,” said Baum.

Ernie now also offers Connected Project and Connected Business, which will cost non-E&Y clients $3,500 a year and $18,000 per year respectively (E&Y clients pay less), and provide information on IT, marketing and human resource issues.

Baum said: “The power of the overall service is immense.”

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