As a pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare giant, GSK was largely inured from the chaos of the macro economy in 2009. However, it was kept busy enough with the H1N1 virus stimulating demand for vaccines and through the closing of its $2.9bn acquisition of dermatology specialist Stiefel Laboratories.

In August, GSK said that it had orders worth $250m for H1N1 vaccines from the US government alone. In October it said total number of pandemic vaccines on its order books was a mind-boggling 440 million.

The company employs 98,000 staff and has annual turnover of $42bn. However, even if there is always going to be a steady market for pharmaceuticals, the business doesn't stand still and as with others in the sector, GSK must hedge against the loss of blockbuster drug patents.

However, in its second-quarter trading of 2009 statement, GSK said it was investigating deploying a standardised ERP platform to help trim costs and fight against a highly competitive US market.

Another possible cost saving could come from Microsoft's BPOS hosted platform which GSK is deploying for cloud-based email, instant messaging, conferencing and storage, partly to replace Lotus Notes.

At the end of 2009, GSK awarded HCL Axon a five-year global strategic IT master services agreement covering systems integration, SAP implementation and IT consulting services. The deal was announced a year after Indian-based HCL Technologies' acquisition of UK-based SAP integrator Axon.

In 2009, GSK's IT function also had to deal with an accounting scandal at key supplier Satyam that supports the pharma giant's SAP ERP installation. Bill Louv, GSK CIO, said in July that "GSK is delighted to be able to extend our contract for another five years. We look forward to continuing to receive the high level of professionalism and commitment from Satyam and its associates that we have experienced over the past seven years."

The company has about 3500 IT staff at over 100 sites in 68 countries and IT must contribute to a tight regulatory compliance regime. To aid tracking of drugs, for example, GSK has used RFID tags.