Jeremy Vincent expands Jaguar Land Rover's manufacturing horizons, click here to read the full CIO UK interview.
By Mark Chillingworth
“We are now on an aggressive and ambitious growth strategy to double our vehicle volumes to 850,000.”
“Volatility in currency and commodity prices, changes in the Chinese economy and the eurozone crisis are all threats. Plus we are highly regulated for safety, emissions and we are always compliant in all territories. “We have to recognise the consumer pattern for smaller, more fuel economic and environmentally friendly vehicles and I think we have done a good job on cars like the new Range Rover,”
“In the year 2009 to 2010 I had almost no budget for strategic and tactical growth, but for the year 2012/13 it is a very different picture. 2009 was a horrible year and Tata really helped us with major support.”
“I knew what to expect when I joined. One thing that I have noticed is that there is a lot in common between manufacturing and FMCG or other sectors,” he says of his previous roles with EMI Music and Allied Domecq. “The IT needs to consolidate and most big international companies have arrived at a point where they are carrying massive islands of technology, so they have too much knitting. The sale agreement imposed certain restrictions: for the most part it would be a clone of the Ford systems recreated in our own domain. In the summer of 2008 there probably wasn’t a weekend when the teams at Ford, JLR, Fujitsu, IBM were not pulling a suite of applications out of Ford. We had 11 groups of applications being brought out. “While we were doing that I was working in the background to execute the strategy. We have joined up a lot of processes now and have better visibility controls across the business,”
“We make cars. It is a complex business and Jaguar Land Rover had made it more complex than it needed to be. “We have lots of internal plans to be more efficient with lower fixed costs, and we have lots of plans to improve launch to shipment,” he says of an issue that has blighted the motor industry for years.”
“As CIO I like to think we have a good business-aligned strategy. “How we can use technology to add serious competitive ability and make a difference to the business. “There is some rationalisation taking place, but we need to land the new transformational technology to get to decommissioning. Rationalisation and simplification are important, but they are not the primary drivers. “The primary driver is delivering an architecture that is fit for purpose to go to become a truly global company."
“I took the decision [to move to Gmail] because we had to move fast. “We mandated at the start that people use Google Mail and Calendar. We are not mandating the others, instead we see how it goes, but every time I go into the Google environment I’m impressed by how much is in there. “We have a Google group for the management team for sending official attachments. “We haven’t invested in training, people use Google at home”
“Google provides service to tens of millions customers, they do it securely and with good performance. Corporate IT needs to act like Google.”
“I think of Tata as our owners and investors. That doesn’t mean they dictate. As business leaders they let us do our thing and get on with it. We are profitable and considered a jewel in the crown. “In IT I made a specific choice to leverage IT capability where I can from within the Tata group, not to do favours, there is the same tender process as any vendor has to go through. “This autumn, after two years, a deal was done with TCS to operate parts of the legacy estate and for them to engage in our global SAP programme. The main reason for this is that TCS are good at it and they have global reach, which I don’t. “In three years’ time when we are a global firm, that will raise the level of complexity for our inbound and outbound supply chains as we will be shipping bodies and components and our current systems are not fit for that. So now we can make our IT enterprise scalable and we need a modern IT architecture to do that.”
“You couldn’t engineer, make or design these products with profitability without leveraging some serious IT. The example I always use of a business without having to make these IT investments is sheep farming. But no blue chip business can grow without these investments.”
“I actually think anyone heading up IT today is in the middle of a time of flux and it will go on for a few years yet. The punching power of IT was in the IT department with the management of the desktop and knitting interfaces and that is where we have been for 25 years. Those leaders are my age and they have lived the journey that I have been through. “I’ve got to where I am, but there has to be a new 21st Century IT that is about doing things in a better way to beat the competition.