Four IT management lessons from Ford

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

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  • Lesson One

    There is little value studying companies requiring the government support, subsidies and protection as Ford.
    Richard Flude
    • Lesson Two

      Check facts before posting
    • Re: Lesson One

      The real "Lesson One" should be fact-checking; Ford didn't take government subsidies. You're thinking of GM and Chrystler.
      • Bailout wasn't mentioned

        You guys need to do some looking, Ford receives heaps of support, before calling out others.
        Richard Flude
    • Semantic Misinformation

      If live and breathe in this country and most places in the world you receive some government support, subsidies and protection. Maybe you can self-define which are ok and which are not. You be sure to give up all that you receive as well as were you work. There are so many that you are not aware of or simply don't appreciate. This semantic misinformation of facts needs to stop.
  • Ford didn't participate in the auto maker bailout.

    It was the only one that refused it.
    seymore bunsen
    • Ford did take $6 billion from the govt

      Ford took about $6 billion from the DOE in 2009. They have not paid it back yet so in a sense they may actually be worse than GM, Chrysler since they have paid back all loans. I guess they figure it really is a handout.

      Google Ford loan DOE to verify
      • GM hasnt paid back a dime

        GM took money from one government funded account to 'pay off' the loan so they could have the account refilled. They haven't paid a single cent to the debt owed the taxpayers - instead they learned the lesson of gov't - just keep moving the dollars around so no one can keep track.
  • Ford Technology

    I recently purchased a Ford Focus Electric. Being electric is only half of the intrigue. The technology is the other half. It is amazing, useful and incredibly intuitive. Microsoft and Ford have built a technology center in the auto and then provided access and data collection via you smartphone and computer. Additionally it is a safe system. You have the ability to access everything with your voice which also has perfect voice recognition capabilities. Your hands never leave the steering wheel.
    Thanks to you who corrected the above statement about government support for Ford. Ford collaterlized everything they own, including the blue Ford oval, to borrow enough money to pay their own way through reorganization. And credit needs to be given to Bill Ford, Jr who stepped aside and allowed Alan Mulally, the CEO of Boing, to come in a bring about this transformation.
  • Ford Is Changing

    Ford has done a great deal and working at a Ford Dealer store as an IT manager I can say I am impressed. They are moving faster than most can keep up and it has caused customers to go out and buy new cell phones that have proper Bluetooth and also learn new technology like SYNC or MyTouch. It is also worth noting that they are not the only ones doing this as others have started to follow suite with their own versions. I have only seen the external results of their internal changes and its interesting to read that a big company is embracing technology to make themselves more efficient.
  • Now, go tell Jason Perlow.

    Great to hear you're impressed with Ford. From my experience with my new 2012 Ford Focus, they're really doing a lot of stuff right now.

    But Jason Perlow wrote an article not too long ago about how he's had it with in-car navigation systems, and I believe Sync addresses many of his complaints.

    I tried to inform him that Ford was addressing the issues, but he seemed to wave me off. His reply was literally this:


    I don't want a Ford."

    And he never bothered to explain why not.

    So I'm left wondering why he just waved off Ford, and why he didn't bother to investigate Sync further, especially since he's fed up with the in-car nav systems other cars have. I do think that Ford and Microsot have done a lot more than others have done.