Compaq, Digital extend deal

Executives stated today that Compaq will likely continue to use Digital's service division on a worldwide basis.

Michael Kanellos
Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
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Compaq and Digital Equipment stated today that Compaq will likely continue to use Digital's service division on a worldwide basis.

The statements follow a story that Compaq was negotiating with other support providers, including Unisys, in an effort to supplement or even replace Digital.

"Digital today is our global support and service provider and our intent is that it will continue in the future," said Scott Thompson, vice president, worldwide service and solution organization, referring to Digital's Multivendor Customer Service (MCS) division.

Thompson stated that Compaq may retain more regional service providers in the future. That is, it may establish relationships with service and support companies which will act on Compaq's behalf in different regions of the world. Unisys, for instance, was made a Compaq regional service provider for North America earlier this summer.

However, he added that it is unlikely that Compaq will retain a second provider with global reach to work alongside of Digital's MCS division for now.

Service and support is shaping up to be one of the big issues for Compaq in the coming year. Chief executive officer Eckhard Pfeiffer has said that Compaq will release a slew of packaged services to make the service aspect of owning a computer easier for consumers.

On the corporate level, Compaq is revamping how resellers provide services to businesses. Currently, Digital's MCS division and Compaq's resellers essentially provide the computer support--including maintenance, installation, and call center management--for Compaq customers. Unlike IBM or Hewlett-Packard, Compaq itself does not have a global service and support division. The agreement with Digital is an outgrowth of that.

While independent resellers provide most of the service and support work for Compaq in the U.S., Digital is the only provider to be authorized by Compaq to provide services on its behalf on a worldwide basis. When a Compaq customer wants the company to provide around-the-clock repair service for divisions all over the world, MCS typically provides that service.

Digital started to serve Compaq in this capacity two years ago, said Steve Garrett, vice president of MCS services partners.

Statements from Compaq and Digital aside, a number of sources have said that Compaq is negotiating with other service providers to supplement, or even replace, Digital in the role of Compaq's global provider.

Leo Daiuto, group vice president at Unisys, told CNET that Compaq has recently been talking to an number of global service providers, including Unisys, about performing services that under the current structure would ordinarily go to Digital's MCS division. "It's all being discussed," he said.