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I.B.M. Launches EduQuest To Better Serve K-12 Market

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As part of a swooping internal reorganization, the International Business Machines Corporation has restructured its Atlanta-based education subsidiary in order to better compote in the precollegiate market.

The firm announced late last month that I.B.M. Educational Systems has been reorganized into EduQuest, a new company that will focus exclusively on marketing I.B.M. administrative and instructional products in the K-12 market.

The new company will be headed by James E. Dezell Jr., who also oversaw the Educational Systems division.

"The needs of schools are different; the needs of schools are special," Mr. Dezell said in announcing the changes at a meeting of school administrators in Atlanta last week.

The new company--officially known as EduQuest, the I .B.M. Educational Systems Company--represents a shift in focus in the parent company's internal organization rather than the abolition of the existing education division, a spokesman said.

EduQuest, which is described as a "company within a company" in the I.B.M. hierarchy, will develop new products for the K-12 market and sell those products through a network of marketing representatives who will report exclusively to Mr. Dezell.

Under the old system, the K-12 sales force often had conflicting responsibilities and was encouraged to concentrate on sales in other markets to moot sales quotas, the spokesman said.

"The immediate impact is that under the old organization, marketing people and systems engineers reported to their branch manager," said Tom Wall, an EduQuest spokesman. "Everybody who works for EduQuest is now 100 percent dedicated to K-12 and only K-12."

Mr. Wall also said EduQuest will streamline the way it processes and fills orders for equipment.

Greater Autonomy Cited

The announcement reflects the major restructuring of I.B.M. announced by its chairman, John S. Akers, in December. The goal of the effort is to break up the monolithic corporation into smaller entities that are more responsive to a rapidly changing computer market.

It also comes on the heels of an announcement that the corporation posted losses of $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 1991, the first such deficit in the firm's 45 year history.

The changes in educational marketing have been weighed for several months as officials analyzed the weaknesses of the existing system, Mr. Wall said.

Although I.B.M. Educational Systems, which was created in 1985, frequently was described as a relatively autonomous subsidiary of the corporation, it actually had very little control over the products it offered its customers.

While officials of the Atlanta-based operation were encouraged to determine the needs of their education customers, they had to respond on subsidiaries for engineering and development services.

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