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IT Confidential

Procter & Gamble told its 7,000 Global Business Services employees last week that it plans to outsource much of its global IT operation and as much as 80% of its business-process functions, including help-desk services, travel, and parts of purchasing and accounting. Under the plan, 5,700 of the services division's employees, and the IT infrastructure that supports their work, would transfer to an as-yet unnamed outsourcer. A P&G spokesman wouldn't confirm reports that EDS and Affiliated Computer Services are finalists for the outsourcing deal, which reportedly rings up at more than $1 billion annually. P&G's fundamental business operations, product development, sales, marketing, and customer relations aren't part of the deal.

Oral arguments begin this week in the case against Microsoft by nine state attorneys general opposed to the antitrust settlement the company reached last year with the feds. The agreement primarily forbids Microsoft from taking punitive action against computer makers that bundle software from its rivals. The states argue that the consent decree has done little to stop Microsoft from behaving as an illegal monopolist. For its part, Microsoft has impugned the impartiality of states' witnesses, questioned the legal basis for the case, and argued that sanctions proposed by the states would hurt the technology industry. Has this legal wrangling hurt Microsoft in the same way IBM's 10-year antitrust trial may have caused it to lose momentum and competitive edge? "There's no question this has caused distraction at the executive level," says Jonathan Guerkink, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst.

Follow up on an item in last week's column about a certain John Smith (not his real name), who had a beef with Dell Computer about a recent E-mail marketing campaign for a new small-business portal. Mr. Smith ended up talking with the Dell executive responsible for the marketing campaign, who admitted that including names and portal passwords in E-mail wasn't a smart move. The exec said Dell corrected the situation in its second E-mail marketing blast by providing randomly generated, temporary passwords. Also, the exec mentioned that Dell's privacy officer was on vacation last week-but said that when he returned, the privacy officer could expect to get "a stern talking to."

Advice for thwarting spam: "Set up a dummy machine on the corporate network. Give it a user ID on the mail server that never gets used. Then fully connect [it to] all the system's services. Also, add that E-mail address (and it should be something very unusable) to the global address book on the main servers. If anyone spams your mail service, or if there is a Trojan, E-mail virus, or worm present, the system will suddenly start getting mail. I have such a machine here in Sprint PCS's performance-engineering department, and I set up the sound of a car crash as the "new mail sound." When something is up ... you can't miss it!" Thank you, Kelly Black, RF Engineer/Systems Admin, Sprint PCS.

Eric Consolazio, senior VP of E-commerce for Cigna, says customers, mostly large employers, want the benefits company to provide more value-add to its programs. That's why Cigna will soon roll out myCigna.com, a portal that lets consumers access customized sites for individual health-care and financial information, such as the status of a claim, links to disease information (including preventive care info), and 401(k) investments. Consolazio says Cigna worked with Yahoo on the portal.

Unisys has a new advertising campaign: "Imagine it. Done." Unisys' previous "monitor-head" campaign reflected the company's transition from technology to IT services. Now that 75% of Unisys' revenue comes from services, the new slogan is meant to emphasize that expertise. The campaign got a kick-off at last week's U.S. Open Golf Championship, where Unisys provided computerized scoring and information services.

My mother used to say: "Pies get done; people get finished." My boss says: "I can't imagine why it's not done yet." My wife says: "Imagine all you want, but that doesn't mean I'm going to do it." I'm imagining you sending me an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about outsourcing, lawsuits, or wild imaginings, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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