The information technology systems Microsoft and ICL plan to develop under their new global alliance will run on the Microsoft enterprise platform and target large enterprise customers operating in the government and education sectors across Europe and in the retail sector worldwide. By standardizing on the Microsoft enterprise platform, which is based on the Windows NT operating system and includes Internet solutions, development tools, Office desktop applications, and the BackOffice family of applications, ICL expects to drive down the cost of enterprise computing for customers and reduce both the time and cost of implementing new consumer-focused applications.
Consumers will benefit directly from new applications aimed at making life easier. Examples are expected include PC-based workplace shopping; retail systems that use customer preferences to target special offers; customer-loyalty reward programs; intranet and Internet solutions for schools, colleges and libraries; distance learning; advanced computer networking and messaging systems; and Internet-based PC-TV-kiosk systems providing unprecedented access to government information and services.
Under an initial three-year agreement, ICL will undertake the largest commercial IT training program in Europe, training and certifying 4,000 ICL staff to become Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developers (MCSD). ICL will also open seven Solution Centers to accelerate development and ensure the smooth deployment of systems running on Microsoft software platforms. The centers will be located at Bracknell, Manchester and Belfast, United Kingdom; Stockholm, Sweden; Katowice, Poland; and Redmond, Wash., and Wake Forest, N.C., United States.