General Motors Focuses on Innovation


By L.A. LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

Within five years, General Motors plans to shift from being 70 percent operations focused to 70 percent innovation focused, said Timothy Cox, its executive director of IT.
That means GM’s 15,000 engineers will create new software products to make the auto manufacturer a leaner, speedier and more efficient company, Cox said.
“The better we can create these applications the better we can do for our business,” he said.
Cox gave the keynote speech Thursday morning to kick off InnoTech Austin, a daylong technology conference at the Austin Convention Center.
Overall, GM is shifting its focus from outsourcing its information technology needs to creating them itself and its new Austin center is part of that strategy.
“We want to be able to do more,” Cox said.
And there’s lots of room for innovation. GM, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and received a federal government bailout of $51 billion, recently opened an Austin Innovation Center. It’s one of four planned around the country. The Austin location will have 500 employees.
“We’re investing in ourselves to become more competitive and more successful,” Cox said. GM will shift from using almost 90 percent of its software from outside vendors to producing 90 percent itself.
“We’re hiring thousands of skilled IT professionals,” Cox said. And most of those workers are in the U.S., he said.
Specialized software to analyze fuel spray and combustion is just one of the ways that GM uses technology in its operations, Cox said. By 2025, federal standards require new cars to operate at 54.5 miles per gallon, Cox said. GM uses simulation and design tools to create cars that can meet those standards, he said.
Every vehicle has about 5,000 parts and the manufacturing lines produce 20 vehicles per hour on an assembly line. That presents plenty of opportunity for innovation in the global supply chain, Cox said.
GM’s IT operations support 5 global technology centers and plants around the world.
On the consumer side, GM offers OnStar and other ownership applications.
“We’re just scratching the surface on these innovative new tools for customers,” Cox said.
He pointed to the GM’s electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, as an example of a car that has unprecedented connectivity.
As part of its technology transformation, GM also plans to close 26 data centers around the world and open two new data centers in Michigan.
“We’re taking one of the biggest companies in the world and creating something special,” Cox said.
GM isn’t trying to create the cheapest IT operations in the world, Cox said.
“The whole transformation is predicated on value,” he said.

Comments

  1. There is way more to car travel and personal transport than having cars roll off the production line and making them fancy with lots of connectivity gizmos. Failure to understand this, causes GM to play catch up rather than dictate the market.

Speak Your Mind

*