Serco is an international services company that operates in a number
of different markets ranging from aerospace to leisure to government. Since its £246 million purchase of IT services firm ITNet in 2004 it has also been a supplier of information technology support to clients such as the DTI, where it runs the government’s Businesslink web service for SMEs, and the London Borough of Hounslow’s IT. In March it secured a £30m extension to an existing outsourced IT services contract with Southwark Council in London.

A definite transition period followed its acquisition of ITNet, but faith seems to have been restored in the ITNet client base. Last September Coca-Cola Enterprises in the UK extended a 15-year relationship with the firm, which supports key systems and an order management application that helps supply some 240m cases of Coca-Cola to European soda drinkers. But the company’s ambitions lie far beyond looking after help desks. Earlier this year it was reported to be trying to put together a consortium to bid for work on what it estimates as the UK’s £2 billion-a-year nuclear decommissioning market.

Indeed it already reaches into many aspects of public services, such as the North of England rail service operation, speed camera processing and a £400m contract from Transport for London to operate the London Docklands Light Railway. Public sector contracts represent 90 per cent of the firm’s business.

It may owe its success to both its colourful CEO Christopher Rajendran Hyman, who donates 10 per cent of his annual income to his local Pentecostal church in Surrey and fasts every Tuesday, as he has done every week of his life; and the way ICT is used to streamline its business operations. For the sake of successful CEOs everywhere we pray it's the latter. Going forward, Serco may be looking to strike similar deals to the one concluded last year at Bradford City Council in partnership with IBM. ICT staff had gone as far as industrial action over fears for their job status and pension rights, but eventually an arrangement has been set up where staff can choose whether to move to the outsourcing operation or remain as local government officers.

Such deals may ease union fears over the impact of ambitious e-government programmes