As regional economic woes bite, demands for efficiency, cost-cutting and return on investment are putting increasing pressure on information systems managers to increase corporate productivity and ensure operations run smoothly. With this as a backdrop, Tivoli is establishing operations in greater China and launching IT Director, the latest addition to its network, systems and applications management products. Tivoli was founded in the United States in 1989 by people who wanted to create software that would 'manage anything'. Three years later, the flagship TME 10 (Tivoli Management Environment) was introduced. It has become a standard for managing computer networks of large, international corporations, with 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies Tivoli customers. The concept behind TME 10 is to provide a standard management approach to all computing environments. 'The framework of Tivoli's management software is like a dinner table - anybody can sit and communicate immediately, without introduction or effort of integration,' Hansen Chang, general manager, Tivoli, IBM Greater China, said. Formerly of SunSoft International Mr Chang joined IBM earlier this year and is building a regional Tivoli team. In 1996, Tivoli, which had gone public just the year before, was acquired by IBM for US$743 million. Tivoli has grown rapidly, becoming the sixth-largest software house in the world. It is run as an autonomous business unit independent of IBM. With the introduction of Tivoli IT Director in April last year, the firm has extended its expertise to small- and medium-sized businesses. Mr Chang said that unlike TME 10, which was designed for multiple environments, IT Director was ideal for a single environment and designed to manage hundreds of Windows NT and Windows/Intel environments of smaller, independent companies. It will be available in Hong Kong within two months. A simplified Chinese version is being developed. In the mainland, Tivoli hopes to take advantage of large budgets for IT. Last year IT spending was estimated at $7 billion, and it is forecast to increase by 27 to 30 per cent over the next couple of years. Until recently most spending was on hardware, but there is expected to be a shift to software and services. While admitting that mainland accounts were few and spread apart, Mr Chang said Tivoli hoped to take advantage of IBM's customer base, especially in the telecommunications and financial industries. It also planned to focus on utilities which 'will become big providers of IT services in China'.