New System For Systemhouse

Now part of MCI, SHL Systemhouse has tapped Scott Ross to head the newly integrated venture

P> People in the telecommunications and systems integration markets are closely watching Scott Ross, the new president and COO of SHL Systemhouse, to see how he will bring about synergy between two very different industries. Canadian-based SHL was bought in September by Washington, D.C.-based MCI Communications Corp., signaling that the telco intends to be a big player in the infotech networking and consulting market.

Ross was previously president of business operations and finance for MCI, where he has worked since 1985. WT spoke with him about his new job and his view of SHL's future.

WT: Describe systems integration.

ROSS: Systems integration is designing and implementing applications that solve business solutions. It starts with consulting and moves up toward outsourcing.

WT: Why did MCI buy SHL Systemhouse?

ROSS: Our customers have been telling us for two or three years that they want a single point for communication and computer needs. The line is blurring. We had formed an operation within MCI to offer computing services, and became comfortable with SHL as a partner. That led to the decision to leverage the expertise and offer a single source. The two companies also fit well culturally. SHL is recognized as a leading technology company, MCI is a leader in sales and marketing and has a world-class distribution system. MCI will stand in front of SHL with great financial support.

WT: What does the demand for such synergy mean for the infotech industry?

ROSS: If you think about trends in business, you see that companies want to virtualize. Companies are downsizing. Technology must therefore help make business decisions, like how do you profit from the Internet, how do you become global. Speed is one of the most important things. To accomplish any of those things, the computer/communication environment becomes very important.

WT: Why were you chosen to run the company?

ROSS: I've been involved with SHL for the past year and was one of the strongest proponents of the buyout and was closely involved in the acquisition. I was the senior executive in charge of integrating the two companies. I've served in sales, marketing and finance at MCI.

WT: What's your philosophy in running this company?

ROSS: I'm a great believer in using technology to gain a competitive advantage. We have to be very customer-focused, very easy to do business with. We have to be on the leading edge of technology to leverage the strengths of MCI and SHL. We will be focused on outsourcing. We're not finding any lack of customer demand. In fact, we are building to meet that demand.

WT: How fast will SHL grow?

ROSS: We plan to attract the best information technology, and we will grow in excess of the market. I can't tell you the exact projections, but SHL will grow faster than MCI over the next few years. [Latest MCI revenues are $15 billion; SHL is $1 billion]. By 2000, half of MCI revenues will come from businesses we [did not have] in 1995, including SHL.

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