A case study in enterprise wisdom management.

Sun Microsystems Recognizes a Problem and an Opportunity

Scott A. Carpenter, Ph.D.

Sun = Sun Microsystems
SunPS = Sun Professional Services
FAST = Field Automated Service Tool
GKMG = Global Knowledge Management Group
IT = Information Technology

Sun recognized a problem and an opportunity.

In 2002 SunPS offered a patchwork of about 20 US-based IT infrastructure services that primarily supported installing and managing their servers and datacenters. However, Sun and Partner sales representatives often called upon their own individual experience to create and sell non-standard, but similar IT services for their customers. These unique non-standard services caused problems with pricing, implementation, management, and reuse. Further, SunPS recognized that IBM and other companies were obtaining substantial service contracts to manage Sun technology; contracts that logically could be Sun's.

To capture IT-service market share, SunPS had to:

  1. standardize their 20 existing US-based IT services and methodologies (for pricing, labor, and reuse continuity from project to project), and to do so in a way that facilitates customization to each customer's business, language, and local customs;
  2. create new IT services to fill gaps between the existing 20 IT services and to make SunPS a complete supplier of IT services; and
  3. build an IT-service sales and engineering workforce that could out-compete all competitors.

The SunPS strategy.

SunPS decided to create a wisdom management system called "FAST", one of SunPS's five flagship initiatives. FAST would deliver the best understanding of its IT experts into the head of every sales representative. Sun's new sales teams wouldn't need to field experts in every conceivable IT service because FAST would deliver that expertise to smaller teams. To create this new wisdom-management tool, SunPS expanded the US-based Global Knowledge Management Group (GKMG) and strengthened its partnering with similar groups in Britain, Italy, and Germany, for starters. The GKMG was tasked to work with its international partners to create FAST. The financial, technical, and people resources required to complete FAST were substantial.


FAST required 1.5 years to develop, test, trial, and commission for use in the North Americas, Italy, Germany, and Britain to start, although all markets were notified of its existence and industrious sales representatives worldwide began using FAST. Before FAST, it took SunPS 2 years to create a patchwork of 20 IT infrastructure services. But by only 6 months after commissioning FAST, the former 20 services had been updated and integrated with another 40 new services for a broad portfolio of more than 60 customizable IT infrastructure services and methodologies that covered all phases of IT infrastructure planning, implementation, and management. More importantly, sales representatives could sit down with their customer and use FAST in real time to create customized solutions with all of the required methodologies (legal, pricing, installation, management, and other documents) within hours rather than the 1-to-3 weeks that was usual before FAST.

Always under construction.
Last update: 2011-04-21
Copyright 20082011 by Scott A. Carpenter. All rights reserved.