Reporting Matt Roush
DETROIT — General Motors will be creating big new IT development centers at its Warren tech center and its downtown Detroit headquarters over the next three years under new chief information officer Randy Mott.
In an interview Thursday morning with WWJ Newsradio 950 technology editor Matt Roush, Mott said he believes “insourcing” IT will give GM more capability to respond quickly to changes in the auto market — and to design cars with more cool tech features than the competition.
The move means a huge IT hiring binge for GM — and job losses for the outsourced IT companies that now provide most of GM’s IT work. Mott wouldn’t say exactly how many staffers GM would be hiring, however.
Mott joined GM in February from Hewlett Packard, where he was also CIO. Before that, he was CIO at Dell. He started his career at Wal-mart, where he spent 22 years, the last six as CIO. He’s an Arkansas native with a degree from the University of Arkansas who started at the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant as a programmer.
“I had a boss early in my career who said that we in IT should be retailers first, technologists second,” Mott said. “I think that applies to whatever business you’re in. We’re trying to transform how IT supports the broader initiatives of (GM CEO) Dan Akerson and his executive team… If you think about what IT is, the part of IT that adds competitive advantage, it’s really IT enabling business processes. We want to add more capability, more features and more functions to support what the business is trying to do in terms of the number of products and the speed with which we go to market with them.”
Mott said he was attracted to GM because it’s “a global company with a lot of scale, an executive management team looking to move to the next level, and a very successful track record in the last year or two coming out of the previous situation, a team willing to make changes.”
Besides transforming GM’s IT staff from 90 percent outsourced to 90 percent in-house, Mott said he also wants to transform GM’s IT staff from 75 percent handling support — today’s situation, he said — to 80 percent of its staff “working on new innovation and development.”
Mott said a company GM’s size “deals with lots of applications. IT has lots of touchpoints all over the company,” from auto design to accounting to communications.
But he said that if IT is managed correctly, it can free IT staff to help the rest of the company build cars with more high-tech features.
“If you spend less time in the mundane, in paperwork, waiting on information, in design testing on high performance computing, if all those things happen faster, there are clearly thousands of creative minds at GM who will drive exactly that outcome,” Mott said of IT’s participation in designing a better car.
Initially, Mott said he plans to “grow our development capabilities in Warren and downtown Detroit. We’ll be doing a lot of college recruiting, taking advantage of our relationships with Michigan’s universities. And we will be opening new development centers, probably three in the U.S., to be announced… We want to make a lot of these moves in the next three years.”
Mott’s former employer, HP, is currently GM’s main IT vendor, with a $2 billion contract awarded two years ago. Other contractors include IBM, Capgemini and Wipro.
GM has a record of moving back and forth between in-house and outsourced IT. In 1984, GM bought Texas-based Electronic Data Systems, using it as an in-house IT department. GM spun EDS out in 1996. GM began spreading out its outsourcing work in 2006, and HP bought EDS in 2008.
Mott, meanwhile, has a track record of relying heavily on in-house IT staff. He cut IT payroll at HP by eliminating contract positions, consolidating data centers and requiring cost justification of IT projects.