A press release issued today from my old friends at EDS caught my eye. EDS announced the company built a secure, web-based portal for its long-time outsourcing customer, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA). According to the release, EDS integrated several of BCBSMA's internal systems in order to provide convenient and simple access to a host of administrative information and provider processes to BCBSMA's network of 35,000 physicians and healthcare providers.
I was just talking yesterday to Larry Bissinger who leads analyst relations for EDS, making the point that veteran IT Services players and outsourcers are in an enviable position to bring next generation technology to the best customers. Take the BCBSMA relationship for EDS. I remember a DATAMATION column I wrote in June of 1994 where employees who were outsourced to EDS sued BC/BS and received $9M in a class action law suit. It was a landmark case at the time. EDS and BCBSMA survived all the spectacle and strain that must have put on their relationship, and the relationship has been renewed and extended a few times since the first deal-signing. Joe Fraser, the EDS client delivery executive, has been there for 15 years. With those roots, it's logical that BCBSMA would turn to EDS first when they want to investigate technology improvements. Granted, some of the improvements are already in scope of their existing agreements, but EDS is more than the sum of its contract parts. My point here is, we should expect to see innovation and business model reinvention coming from old, familiar places. Not everyone will abandon their preferred vendors for the "hot shop."