George Surdu, Director, Information Technology Services, Ford Motors in January 2001 at Berkley while speaking on Ford’s strategy to become completely e-business enabled and overcoming legacy obstacles talked about implications of the new economy developed on the platform of information technology (2001). HI his presentation, he stated that the new economy will make the customer a king. The products will no longer be provided, it will be demanded. The company will be expected to provide 24 x 7 interactions. Transparency and information delivery of a company will act as a competitive advantage.
The technology will actually determine the shape of every possible move of a firm (Surdu, 2001). Now taking Ford Motor Company as an example, this company sells seven million vehicles globally each year. It is one of the largest manufacturers of cars and trucks with sales of over $170 billion and 345,000 employees. In addition to what it sells through its stable, Ford also markets vehicles under the labels of other premier car manufacturers. This much size is itself a reason behind all complexities related to the smooth conduction of business.
The company’s workforce is distributed across 200 plus countries serving markets of six continents. The workforce is not the only thing that is actively associated with the company but also the thousands of suppliers, dealers, and partners associated with ford in designing new products, solving distribution problems, and marketing activities and advertising programs (EMC, 2006). Computer-based Technology at FORD for Business Solutions Information Technology at Ford is meant for serving four main purposes. • Website The Website ford direct.
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com and many other are meant for providing customer access to basic company marketing information. • Intranets The Intranet in Ford is meant for its employees. They are given access to online information but behind the firewall. • Extranets The Extranet has been developed for business partners. Through this, they can access online information again behind the firewall. • Marketplaces The trading communities irrespective of its location have been linked with another one so that the whole business can also be conducted online. The Internet made an impact on the supply chain; both in and outside of the company.
It helped the company to have better efficiency and at the same time allowed better use of capital. It led to the elimination of waste and enable it to build and deliver products to customer specifications. Information Technology services in Ford are available at four centers (Surdu, 2001). They are Application management Center, Application Services, Accelerated Implementation center, and finally in Accelerated Solution Center. The strategy by Ford to make the company’s information and knowledge repository accessible to its employees has made knowledge management feasible through information processing.
The Ford Systems Integration Center (FSIC) has been initiated for the purpose of improving its communication and systems processes. The company’s wide area network served as their intranet with computers being connected to this network. The hosts at those places were responsible for making other locations connected to the main network. All this led to amazing results. Since there were no travel restrictions, more than fifty team members actually attended the conference. The connectivity factor in this case serves three forms of purposes.
They are B2B, B2E, and finally B2C (Surdu, 2001). B2B is meant for streamlining the supply chain while B2E is meant for engaging the Ford workforce. Connectivity to these places can be achieved through VPN as well as secure TCP IP model. The VPN technology or Virtual Private Network Technology is a private network communication technology used within the company with message transmission being confidentially or securely done over a publicly accessible network (Howstuffwork, 2006). Security in the network can be maintained through the authentication system.
Any access to the network or server will require approval from the firewall. A firewall is basically a system that checks the access right of the user. The access rights are assigned by the system administrator and the firewall compares the access right of the client intending to get into the network with the list or database already provided to it by the administrator. This technology makes the network secure and also gives the option to authorized users to access the network through the proper channels at either end of the network.
Ford has implemented a common infrastructure for supporting Enterprise Application Integration and B2B with the help of IBM (IBM, 2004). The new system architecture has space for both new and old technology. It actually integrates itself the existing applications present both inside and outside the Ford Organization. This collaboration has been for the purpose of developing next level of a Web services development and runtime capability. The whole new architecture will cater to common services for security and Web service management.
The shortcomings present in traditional point to point cross-application data exchange interface strategies and tightly coupled application integration have been rectified and has evolved to the enterprise-wide real-time system (IBM, 2004). Ford has always believed in product development through extensive collaboration among engineers and other members from many departments across Ford’s own technical team as well as network of suppliers. The current application of eRoom is in the development of a vehicle control system (EMC, 2006).
This project has led to the involvement of engineers from a list of engineers not only Ford but also from Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and major suppliers suppliers from UK, Germany and Japan. Through eRoom essential activities like sharing and collaboration on product documents and project history management and conflict resolution was possible just on click of button (EMC, 2006). This eRoom also eliminated the need of updating the project website for making the development process available for others to access.
These things are now available through 2-way communication process and in case of emergency will be done during real-time data transfer. Some of the basic features associated with this technology are cost-saving, time-saving, reduced IT costs, and finally reduced Co-location costs. The increased data sharing and process data flow integration and speed of accessing documents saves several Man-hours. Ford’s departmental websites and applications will now be replaced by eRooms. This will cause a considerable reduction in the overall cost of Ford’s expenditure in IT deployment and maintaining the same (EMC, 2006).
The Co-location costs are greatly reduced with reduction in travel costs and less need of relocation cost. Finally the auxiliary expenditures in form of printing of documents, audio and video-conferencing and information transmission can now be reduced to minimum possible range. Conclusion The Ford has a history of innovating new ways to improve its performance and customer satisfaction but the same techniques become a revolution. Initially it was assembly line production and now its use of information technology for its business processes. The use of IT caused remarkable change in the production technique and supply chain management.
It also stretched its utility to proper management of its workforce. The company is now near to both its employee and its customer. The development of IT and its application in Ford being a continuous affair has changed not only the firm but also the IT structure over which the company is changing its way of conducting business.
- Princeton. http://wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn Webopedia. http://www. webopedia. com/TERM/C/computer_system. html Tanenbaum, A. S. (2003). Computer Networks, Pearson Education, Surdu, G. 2001. e-business @ Ford, http://groups. haas.
- berkeley. edu/citm/conferences/001206/Presentations/GeorgeSurduPres. pdf Howstuffwork Inc, 2006. http://www. howstuffworks. com/vpn. htm IBM, 2004. Making an impact on everyday people, http://www306. ibm. com/software/success/cssdb. nsf/CS/KHAL62MMXB? OpenDocument&Site=gicss67auto Microsoft, 1997. Microsoft NetMeeting: Ford Motor Company http://download. microsoft. com/download/2/2/0/220fd229-34fb-4301-a2f6-97bcf562d4bd/ford. doc EMC, 2006. Ford Motor Company: eRoom enables Ford to drive into new technology http://software. emc. com/about_us/customer/profiles/ford_eroom. htm
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