Atos Origin (IT Consulting)

  • Overview

Time and again

Atos Origin is an international IT consultancy offering end-to-end technology solutions.  The firm is based in Paris, but maintains offices in 40 countries and has over 50,000 employees.  Clients come from a number of different markets, including financial services, manufacturing, retail, telecom and media, energy and utilities, and the public sector, as well as the organizers of major sporting events, such as the Olympics.  Typically, more than 60 percent of the firm's revenue base is recurring, the result of multiyear contracts for outsourcing or application maintenance.

Atos Origin conducts business through three service lines: consulting, systems integration and managed operations.  The consulting line attempts to address the strategy and IT needs of an organization across the board, from personnel to processes to technology.  The systems integration line works to develop and implement new systems for a client, while also maintaining or improving on legacy systems.  Through alliances with major vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Siebel, the firm is able to match best-of-breed technologies to each client's needs.  The managed operations segment revolves primarily around outsourcing, offering the management of core infrastructure like data centers, desktop support, server farms and network communication systems.  Atos Origin also provides BPO and specialist processing services, payment and card processing services, CRM and multichannel contract services.  

Origin's origins

The firm has a complex history, having been assembled out of various corporations almost the way a quilt is assembled out of squares of fabric.  Before Atos and Origin joined forces in 2000, they were themselves the result of mergers, and in some cases, so were their predecessors.  Atos was formed in 1997 when the companies Axime (a blend of three IT firms) and Sligos united. 

Atos Origin hasn't let that merging tradition die; it acquired the U.K. and Netherlands offices of KPMG Consulting in August 2002, and then shelled out $1.28 billion in January 2004 to purchase SchlumbergerSema, a move that doubled its staff.

We'll do the acquiring, thanks

Though Atos Origin doesn't mind acquiring and divesting certain assets, it hasn't shown much interest in the idea of being bought out.  After selling its Bahrain-based Middle East division to local management in February 2006 and making a similar deal that same month to sell Nolan, Norton & Co., its strategy consulting division, to its management, the firm was quickly surrounded by rumors that it would be acquired outright.  The media identified equity firm Blackstone Group as the likely buyer, but after denials by both firms, speculation died out.  A poor financial showing for the whole of 2006 fueled merger rumors yet again in March 2007, with the possible suitors this time being U.K. private equity firm Permira and hedge fund Centaurus Capital.  Atos Origin admitted then that there had been "expressions of interest" from third parties, but no concrete offers.  Finally, in May 2007, it put an end to the talk, releasing a statement that any discussions with interested buyers had been terminated.


Into high gear

Lackluster performance in 2006 pushed the firm toward more aggressive tactics.  In February 2007, it announced the "303" plan, a three-year course of accelerated organic growth, improved efficiency and a more global outlook on business.  An executive committee was formed and tasked with achieving these goals through better execution of operations, service lines and functions.  In addition, new managers were appointed to select European offices and over struggling group sales and finance divisions.  The off shoring business will receive particular attention, as the firm intends to bring in 8,000 employees for the offshore/near shore divisions by the end of 2009.

Home team support

Atos Origin tends to do very well in its home country, serving some of the largest organizations in France, both public and private.  In October 2008, it signed a three-year contract with Polyrey, a maker of decorative laminate surfaces, pursuant to which the firm will handle all operations of Polyrey's SAP system.  At the start of the project, the client's data was immediately transferred to Atos Origin data centers, which began implementing new architecture to reduce operating costs.  Also in October, the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry selected the firm, in partnership with CRM expert Selligent, to redesign its customer relationship system, implement new technology, train users and provide ongoing maintenance.  


Previous assignments with French public works departments include a contract with the national power utility Electricita de France, which called on the firm to design its monitoring and diagnosis assistance system for the country's nuclear power plants, and a contract with the national water utility, Lyonnaise des Eaux, for the upgrade of an automated outbound call system.

Popular abroad, too

In keeping with its plan to grow and keep a global outlook, the firm also takes on major engagements outside of France.  In October 2008, Atos Origin was tapped by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a worldwide body for professional accountants, to manage its IT infrastructure.  The five-year project will involve ACCA's network of 80 offices and centers, supporting 122,000 members and 325,000 students.  Also in October (quite the busy month!), Atos Origin entered into a contract with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science for the outsourcing of its workplace services, including telecommunications, asset management software and printing.  The $45 million deal, which will cover 3,700 work stations, is set to span four years, with an option of a three-year extension.

Stateside, sometimes

The firm is not a major player in the U.S., although it does maintain an office in Houston and a small client base.  However, it is gearing up for a possible boost to North American business by seeking alliances with domestic vendors.  In February 2008, the firm announced a partnership with the San Francisco corporation Ad Infuse, a provider of mobile advertising solutions, that will allow Atos Origin to pair its consulting and IT capabilities with Ad Infuse's adInMotion platform.  One month prior, the firm forged a partnership with Axway, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company offering business-to-business solutions and information management.  Together, the companies will offer a system for managing business document exchanges.

Going for IT gold

Since 2004, Atos Origin has managed to carve out a niche as the go-to IT provider of the Olympic Games, primarily handling the transmission of competition results worldwide and IT security.  After the firm's major events division completed a successful engagement at the Athens Games, it followed up with contracts for the Torino Games in 2006 and the Beijing Games in 2008.  What's more, Atos Origin has already been selected for Vancouver 2010 and London 2012.  

As they say in sports, practice pays off.  The same is true of Atos Origin's role in the Games.  In Beijing, the firm was able to process over 80 percent more data for media and news agencies than it had in Athens.  It also added eight sports to the commentator information system, which allows broadcasters to access detailed, real-time information.  The major events division also frequently handles projects for other worldwide sporting events, albeit with a lower profile, such as the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, the World Cup and the All Africa Games.

Un coup d'Etat

In a surprise move, November 2008 saw the firm announce a new leader in a move that amounted, fittingly for a French company, to nothing less than a coup d'Etat.  In came former French Finance Minister Thierry Breton as chairman and CEO, and out went Philippe Germond.  The appointment represents Breton's first foray back into the corporate world since his two-year tenure as France's minister of economy and finance ended in 2007.  Prior to that, he had served as CEO of both the Thomson Group and France Telecom.

In addition to putting someone with Breton's contacts and experience at the helm, the appointment is aimed at speeding up the firm's transformation plans.  Those were discussed in detail when the firm released its 2008 year-end financial results, and are based mostly around something the firm calls the TOP Program.  An acronym for total operational performance, the TOP program has four main objectives: better leveraging of the firm's global concept; closing the gap between itself and competitors using industry benchmarks; developing better efficiency through lean management processes; and implementing sustainability initiatives.

The year-end financial results, meanwhile, made for decent reading for Atos investors, showing a net income of $23 million, half what it took in for 2007.  While the firm's year-on-year revenue also declined when all business units were taken into account, the company went to some lengths to publish results that took into account the divestment of its Italy and AEMS Exchange units in 2007.  When considered side by side, the results from operations without considering those units actually showed a 5.6 percent increase from 2007 to 2008.  Still, though, the firm predicted a slight dip in revenue for fiscal 2009, no doubt a reflection of the twin pressures of restructuring and the downturn in the economy.

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Atos Origin (IT Consulting)


5599 San Felipe
Suite 300
Houston, TX 77056
Phone: (713) 513-3000
Fax: (713) 403-7204
www.atosorigin.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: SAX
  • Stock Exchange: Euronext Paris
  • Chairman and CEO: Thierry Breton
  • 2010 Employees: 49,000

Major Office Locations

  • Paris, France

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