Airbus, Centrica Tackle Portal Projects

Aerospace company links employees, customers and suppliers; energy firm connects internal users

Aerospace company links employees, customers and suppliers; energy firm connects internal users

San Francisco, CA — February 12, 2004 — Enterprise portal specialist Plumtree Software this week reported two customer wins, adding aerospace giant Airbus and energy sector player Centrica to its client base.

Airbus is deploying the Plumtree Corporate Portal for its staff, customers and suppliers, ultimately reaching 80,000 people. Airbus has opted to deploy three portal "experiences" through one framework to provide a tailored resource for users and user communities with distinct expectations and profiles: Airbus People, for staff, Airbus World, dedicated to the aeronautics manufacturer's customers and Airbus Supply, for suppliers and sub-contractors.

The first phase of the group portals project, Airbus People, is already deployed to over 40,000 staff worldwide. A tool for spreading the company's corporate culture, the portal provides access to services such as human resources, internal communication, e-mail and a multimedia library. It also aids collaboration between multiple working groups and internal communities, for example supporting collaboration around the development of the A380 jumbo jet, according to Plumtree.

In deploying customer and supplier portals in the second phase of the project, Airbus is relying on Plumtree technology to reduce workload for development, interface with third-party technologies and applications, and support the increasing number of users that the second phase will bring. The Airbus Supply and Airbus World portals should be fully operational in the course of 2004.

Said an Airbus spokesperson: "Following the integration of the five founding companies behind the European consortium operating under the Airbus name, the portal development is one of the seven priority projects aimed at facilitating the integration of our activities. The portal initiative is vital in enabling us to bring together all of Airbus' staff, customers and suppliers; its success has strategic significance for our organization."

Meanwhile, Centrica, a provider of energy and other home services worldwide, has implemented its "Essential" portal on time and in budget.

With 2002 revenues of $26 billion, Centrica offers gas and electricity supply and related products under the British Gas brand, roadside and financial services from the AA and telecoms products and services through One.Tel and British Gas in the United Kingdom. The company also is a player in the North American energy market.

Based on Plumtree's Enterprise Web Suite, the Essential portal allows Centrica's businesses, including AA, British Gas and One.Tel, to access product and customer information. It also serves as a platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration, which together are helping deliver cross-group synergies and benefits, according to Plumtree.

Centrica said it plans to extend Essential to Centrica's global business operations as well as its mobile workforce, including the AA breakdown service, over the next couple of years. Centrica intends to use the portal to help further improve customer service by enabling staff to deal with inquiries more quickly and effectively and estimates it will save up to $3.7 million per year by replacing paper-based information distribution in Centrica's British Gas call centers.

The Essential portal provides employees with real-time access to an integrated billing and customer relationship management (CRM) system, product and services information, competitive intelligence, sales tools, e-learning applications and internal communications. Both structured and unstructured information is delivered electronically to employees, replacing the need for paper-based information sources. Essential's search engine is designed to let users find what they need quickly, saving time and helping stem information overload, Plumtree said.

Centrica is looking to benefit from reduced printing, communication and photocopying costs, as well as improved knowledge sharing across the enterprise. The Essential portal has also helped to build a sense of community among the different Centrica brands, stimulating cooperation and encouraging collaboration, according to the portal provider.

Plumtree connects applications online in real time across the whole Centrica enterprise, enabling 27,000 employees to access corporate and team-specific information. In order to maintain local control for Centrica's individual business units, the portal has been divided into 45 communities, which map the various departments that make up each of the company's brands.

Centrica started building the portal in February 2003 and completed deployment in September. Senior executives showed their support and belief in the project from the outset by involving 1,000 employees from the finance department in the pilot stage. A survey conducted by Centrica found that 91 percent of these employees agreed that Essential will be really useful to their daily work.

"It's a huge improvement on what we had before," Plumtree quoted one user as saying. "When you are on the frontline dealing with customers, you need all the information in one place." Feedback from the survey highlighted the search engine as being a key tool. One employee said, "Not only is the portal laid out in an easy-to-use format, but it halves the time needed to search for files."

"Essential enables us to make the maximum use of our assets by providing rapid access to applications and information," said Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, program director for global intranet at Centrica. "Connecting the businesses is critical to the fulfillment of our long-term strategy to deepen relationships with our customers. We are also committed to being an employer of choice for the most talented people in our target sectors."