Four IT management lessons from Ford

Summary:Here's a look at Ford's take on centralized services, collaboration and application integration and the lessons learned.

Ford in recent years has revamped its information technology people, processes and code in an effort to make the massive automaker innovative and nimble. Ford's technology journey basically boils down to four key lessons.

Jason Hiner on TechRepublic has an in-depth look at Ford's approach to IT and how it rejiggered its organization to create tools such as SYNC.

  • One global IT instance---with caveats. Ford tied IT to its One Ford initiative. The biggest change here is that Ford moved to a centralized federated IT department. In English, Ford's approach meant that it simplified and centralized IT and delivered it as a service. The catch is that Ford allowed enough room for customization in Europe, North America, Asia, engineering, research and manufacturing.
  • IT is viewed as an asset. Sure, Ford had its share of technology budget cuts, but the creation of SYNC changed the perception of IT. Notably, technology is a capability of Ford, which views cars as being more about software these days.
  • Collaboration matters. Ford also spent time honing its collaboration strategy. The first change was focusing on the tools---Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Yammer and federated search---and then on maximizing workflow to be efficient and deliver returns. Ford is in the process of that latter part now.
  • Focus on integration to minimize maintenance. Ford needs to focus on new products and enhancing sales. Maintaining infrastructure that doesn't deliver on those goals is a waste of time.

Hiner has a tour of Ford's IT prospects. Here's a look at the moving parts and what's on deck.

Topics: CXO, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Social Enterprise


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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