In a recent speech to his staff, Sir Peter Bonfield, BT CEO, spoke about other deals BT was lining up after its #6 billion whopper with AT&T. "There are more opportunities in this industry to pursue," he said, referring particularly to Syntegra, BT's systems integration business. Syntegra is not involved in the BT/AT&T deal, but that's because it has plans of its own. Barry Murphy, head of marketing and communications at Syntegra, is adamant that one of the reasons Syntegra is relatively unheard of is because it is over-shadowed by BT. "If Syntegra was a free-standing business without such a powerful parent we would be the subject of much more analysis and be much admired," he said. "Syntegra is an important and distinct business from BT and must not be obscured by it." The business started out as BT Customer Systems in 1990 with 2,500 people from many different parts of BT. In 1993, BT whittled this number down to 500 to form Syntegra. As a systems integration business, independent from BT, the firm offers large companies IT and communications integration and consultancy as one package. The company now employs more than 4,200 people worldwide and generates annual reveues of about #400 million. "Today the big challenge for Syntegra is growth and building a reputation," said Murphy. "We are looking to either take over or merge with a business in the US that is at least the size of Syntegra." Syntegra has 100 employees in New York who work on financial trading systems alone, which is one of its strongest areas of business. Murphy maintains that focus is key to the company's strategy. "Unlike Andersen or IBM, we will not take on small or medium-sized companies; we are strong in the markets we know, which are large nationals and multi-nationals," he said. Syntegra picks up 50% of its business from BT and 50% it generates itself. Its primary business is financial trading systems, which makes up 40% of its global revenue, with one in four trading floors around the world using a Syntegra system. Syntegra generated #90 million in revenue from advising on and building call centres in the UK in the last two years. Remaining business opportunities include community systems and knowledge management. Syntegra's knowledge management systems and consultancy involve enabling a company to collect and give access to company data in a presentable and useful fashion. "It's about blending people and IT," explained Murphy, "dealing with ambiguity and change and the implications of technology on people." Syntegra has plenty of first-hand experience at this after its merging and then de-merging with MCI SystemHouse last year. "System House was good at focusing on the customer while we were better at the overall solution," said Murphy. "It was a very distracting time for us as a business: it felt like a three-year course condensced into three months." CASE STUDY The Scottish Office announced at the beginning of August the completion of a #6.5 million programme that allows GPs in Scotland to communicate electronically. Practitioners can share information and pool knowledge wherever they are based in Scotland. Syntegra provided each practice with a Pentium PC running Microsoft Windows NT, Exchange Server and Office 97. The EDI software was provided by Burns. Syntegra gave training in how to use the new systems in two stages at three centres across Scotland and a CD-ROM was given to each practice for further in-house training. In addition to being able to communicate electronically, GPs can also connect to the existing NHSnet, the NHS intranet that allows users to access up-to-date medical and health related issues. By automating and streamlining many of the previously time consuming administrative tasks, patient test results will soon be made available automatically to the correct surgery as soon as they are ready. Bureaucratic processes, such as hospital referrals, will take place electronically, eliminating ambiguity and improving efficiency.
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