BSkyB sues EDS over CRM system

The relationship between BSkyB, the UK's largest digital TV company, and systems integrator EDS, which was commissioned to...

The relationship between BSkyB, the UK's largest digital TV company, and systems integrator EDS, which was commissioned to install a cutting-edge CRM software system, has ended in court.

BSkyB has filed a legal claim against EDS for "deceit, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract" during the implementation of a multimillion-pound CRM system to support operations at BSkyB's call centres. 

The media giant rolled out the system with EDS in 2000, but severed the relationship in early 2002 and, after failed discussions, decided to take legal action. 

The original contract was worth $109m (£60m), according to an EDS spokesman. He said, "We're going to vigorously defend our position, and there will be a counterclaim in the several millions of pounds for unpaid bills. It's absolutely outrageous."

At issue is a system that was to be built around CRM software from Chordiant Software, which specialises in business-to-consumer applications. The system, running on Sun Microsystems hardware, was to be housed at BSkyB's contact centres in Livingston and Dunfermline in Scotland, where as many as 1,000 agents field calls at any given time. 

A BSkyB spokesman declined to offer details about the project or discuss the amount of money the company is seeking. However, in an announcement in 2000 about the EDS-Chordiant roll-out, BSkyB said it planned to integrate previously disparate data sources and create more comprehensive customer profiles.

Richard Freudenstein, the company's chief operating officer, said at the time, "EDS provided a technically advanced solution that will make a valuable contribution to BSkyB's drive to lead innovation in customer service and maintain Sky Digital's industry-leading levels of customer retention." 

In addition, subscribers would be able to access account, billing and other information and services via agent, phone, the web or the television service itself. 

However, according BSkyB's court statement, the relationship between the two companies ended after EDS "failed to perform its contractual obligations". After the severance, BSkyB subsidiary Sky Subscribers Services, which supports the company's operations, took over the integration work for the project. 

BSkyB has spent $310.8m on software, systems integration, infrastructure costs and the revamp of the call centre facilities. Moreover, the company said it expects to spend another $91m during the next four years to finish the current implementation and continue to "maintain leading-edge" CRM systems for its growing subscriber base, which now stands at about 7 million customers. 

The BSkyB spokesman confirmed that the Chordiant software is still running but declined to offer further details on the implementation's status until completion.

Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld

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