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Siemens Shared Services on 28 September plans to launch Rearden Commerce's Personal Assistant technology in the United States, followed by a rollout in Canada. Signed at the end of the second quarter, the contract represents California-based Rearden's largest win and its first Canadian deployment.
"The deal was done with [Siemens travel management services director] Steven Schoen in North America; he has responsibility for U.S. and Canada," said Rearden Commerce worldwide sales vice president Tony D'Astolfo. "We talked about other places, but for now the contract is for U.S. and Canada."
Rearden's online booking tool in North America will replace e-Travel from Amadeus. According to multiple sources, Siemens earlier this year also began replacing e-Travel in other markets with the cytric product from Germany-based provider i:FAO, which already was Siemens' top booking tool.
Schoen declined to comment in detail. He confirmed the Rearden activation date, provided an update on volumes and described a separate remote conferencing initiative.
According to D'Astolfo, while initial efforts will be directed toward air, car and hotel, Siemens is interested in Rearden's extended services, as well. "We'll initially focus on their very big travel program, but we have identified significant spend in desktop shipping," he said. In addition, said D'Astolfo, "We have identified 22,000 BlackBerry users, and we're absolutely going to go after them from the perspective of Rearden Mobile."
For travel management services, Siemens uses four TMCs around the world, including BCD Travel in the United States and Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Canada. Its global distribution system in those countries is Sabre.
Siemens a year ago reported more than 70 percent self-booking tool adoption in North America, up from 40 percent four years before.
Based on volume, Siemens is set to become the biggest of Rearden's 5,120 accounts, D'Astolfo said. Siemens in 2007 reported about $500 million in North America travel and entertainment expenses, but Schoen this week said demand is down "consistent with how anyone else is down, and more international than domestic."
Meanwhile, volume could fall farther as a result of another initiative Schoen described. "Our focus, like other companies, is really the reduction of internal meeting travel," he said. "We want people going out there more than ever to meet with customers or potential customers, but we have implemented the Microsoft [Office Communications Server] platform globally. We're calling it Realtime Collaboration, and we're really marketing that strongly internally as a substitution for travel for internal meetings. We're saving on conference calling because of voice-over IP. It's really cool. We all have webcams attached to our computers."
Microsoft's OCS manages instant messaging, VoIP, and audio- and videoconferencing, according to Microsoft's Web site.
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