General Motors puts the last of its four new U.S. tech development centers in Arizona. No Silicon Valley?
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General Motors has chosen the Phoenix area for its fourth and final new U.S. technology development center, with plans to hire 1,000 people there.
The center is part of GM's plan to staff up to about 9,000 IT employees as the automaker shifts from relying on IT outsourcing vendors for 90% of its tech work to doing 90% of that work in-house. A year ago, when Randy Mott was named CIO of GM, the company had about 1,500 IT employees.
The Arizona development center will be in Chandler, just outside of Phoenix. Since Mott came onboard, GM has opened development centers in the greater metro areas of Atlanta, Austin and Detroit as well. GM also has a data center in Warren, Mich., and is looking for a second site as it consolidates more than 20 data centers to two.
With the metro Phoenix pick, GM has opted not to put one of its new development centers in Silicon Valley. GM considered cost of living and overall quality of life, Mott said, along with the ability to recruit from top universities. "I don't think there's one place you have to be to accomplish [tech innovation]," he said.
Mott cited universities, including the University of Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and Stanford, as a focus of GM's recruitment. About 30% of the employees in its development centers will be recent college graduates, the rest being more experienced professionals.
Mott said the veterans-plus-new-grads formula worked well in the 1990s during his time at Wal-Mart, where Mott launched his IT career and advanced to CIO. Wal-Mart's environment melded the energy and fresh thinking of newcomers with the experience of retail IT pros, he said.
When I asked Mott if, culturally, GM is ready for a distributed environment where critical tech work is spread out among these development centers, he said these centers are a consolidation compared with GM's former IT outsourcing model. "The suppliers were in 50 locations in 20 countries doing work on behalf of GM," Mott said.
Because GM's development centers will work on a range of projects, the company is recruiting people across tech disciplines. GM has about 400 active IT projects right now. Having the four centers spread over only a few time zones will make collaboration easier, Mott said.
The development center hiring plans GM has announced so far include the hiring of: 3,000 former Hewlett-Packard employees who had been working on GM projects for HP; 500 people in Austin; 1,000 in the Atlanta area (Roswell); and 1,500 in the Detroit area (Warren).
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