Swiss company UBS is a worldwide investment banking group with offices in 50 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Keeping costs down is key for such a large, geographically dispersed company. With over 69,500 employees worldwide, PC costs alone can be substantial, particularly if they are not standardised. That’s why last year UBS signed a four-year deal with Dell, reportedly worth in the region of $50 million, to supply and maintain 30,000-plus customised desktops and notebooks.

“By standardising the infrastructure worldwide we can achieve a substantial cost reduction,” said Scott Abbey, UBS chief technical officer, after the announcement.

Dell installed its range of OptiPlex desktops and Latitude notebooks at UBS branches, each customised to UBS’ specifications. It was also responsibile for the installation, advanced service desk and hardware, as well as migrating to Microsoft’s XP.

In a further cost efficiency measure, the bank established a backoffice processing centre in Hyderabad, India, which went live in March this year. UBS already had offshore and outsourcing projects, including a call centre in Sydney and IT development work in India, Singapore and China. This initiative is different, however, as it is UBS’s first experience of group-wide offshoring and is its first captive centre in India.

The Hyderabad centre, with initial capacity for 500 positions, aims to provide business groups with knowledge process offshoring, which includes research and analytics, as well as IT infrastructure and shared services support. Business process offshoring, incorporating transaction and data processing, will also be run from the Indian centre.

Security is also a key concern. The security and IT departments were restructured to become an independent operational risk team and the firm ran a staff awareness campaign last year to warn of the security threats of using the internet.

Only last year the bank had a security scare when a hard disk containing confidential customer information disappeared from its Tokyo office during a global upgrade of its data archiving system. It contained data on 15,000 accounts, some of which contained sensitive customer data such as names, addresses, account numbers and balances of clients.