Burroughs and Sperry Univac merged in 1987 to form Unisys Corporation and became the world’s second largest computer company with revenues in excess of $12b. Both companies were seeped in a mainframe background and culture and knew they were not well equipped to manage the transition into a distributed systems business. Both Boroughs and Sperry had small and almost insignificant revenues in this area and had failed to build an indirect sales channel which was critical to success in distributed systems.

Unisys Europe-Africa Division decided to find someone who had the skills to build sales channels across all fourteen western European countries and Africa and commissioned an international search. Michael Tait was chosen because of his knowledge and experience in managing sales channels for Digital Equipment Corporation who had the largest channels programme in Europe. Mike was also considered to have the drive and personality to succeed in a fiercely demanding management environment, and effect change in a resistant mainframe culture.

Mike’s brief was to go out to the countries and assess the situation and define what could be achieved. He then constructed his business plan and presented this and his change programmes to all top management across Europe-Africa and the main Unisys Corporation board.

The management style at Unisys was ‘hands-on’ and ‘lead from the front’ and this was very much Mike’s style. He therefore fitted in well with the top management at Unisys and was quickly accepted as a key member of the Europe-Africa top management team.

For Mike to succeed in recruiting Value Added Channel partners, distributors and dealers, he had to redefine the role of all direct sales people across Europe and the marketing methods used in all areas and geographies of Unisys and drive these initiatives. He led the implementation of strategies and programmes across all Europe-Africa countries and often got directly involved with the recruiting of channel partners. Mike was travelling intensively and was often conducting business in three countries per week.

Mike’s programmes proved very successful and he was asked to take these programmes to the USA and other areas. Asia Pacific also adopted his strategy and programmes and were trained and supported by him.

Mike went on to define the direct sales of desktop level networks and systems and in parallel, ran this programme across Europe-Africa.

Under Mike’s leadership Unisys became one of the leaders in distributed systems and had recruited a substantial indirect channels network. He built a £500m UNIX, PC, and Client/Server Workstation business through over 1000 Dealers, Distributors, Systems Houses and Direct Sales units across Europe and Africa.

Michael Tait – Biography