The agreement, worth up to £50m in its first year, will involve IBM designing, building and managing BT Cellnet's IT systems infrastructure to support its development of voice, text and mobile Internet markets over the next decade.
Chris Liveing, general manager for marketing at BT Cellnet, said the rapid pace of change in telecoms and mobile computing meant the company "needed to build into the agreement support for change".
The contract allows BT Cellnet to make monthly changes, some of which may be complex, to the services IBM provides.
Although the contract is set to run for 10 years, Liveing told CW360.com that BT Cellnet has fleshed out an IT strategy for only a two-year period. "It is difficult to see beyond two years," he explained. Making plans beyond this, he said, was "purely academic".
In an effort to control the inevitable uncertainty that lies at the heart of this type of contract Liveing said the two organisations would try and maintain a rolling two-year strategy during the contact. "IBM will be incentivised to deliver the individual parts [of the contract] in a timely and cost-effective manner," he said.
Ian McNeal, client server principal at IBM Global Services which is responsible for the communications sector, said the focus of the contract in 2002 was to create a stable infrastructure. This means focusing on the integration of existing systems including the Genie Mobile service and process support for customer care, e-payment, product and services development.
He said that IBM would be taking over the company's customer relationship management and bill presentation systems, which includes the commercial packages Kana and Geneva.
The systems would be linked together using IBM MQ Series middleware. IBM is also providing the hardware. "Some 90% of the new hardware is based on our P-series [AIX servers]," McNeal added.
Flexible outsourcing contacts will become increasingly important for business according to analyst group Gartner. At its Spring Symposium earlier this month Steve Prentice, vice-president and director of research, told CW360.com, that the long-term future for IT outsourcing contracts was in flexibility and responsiveness to change.