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GM Touts Common IT Infrastructure

Improved processes and reduced costs trickle down to automaker's suppliers and partners.
Maryanne Goebel, CIO at General Motors Corp. North America, explained to attendees this week at the InformationWeek Fall Conference in Rancho Mirage, Calif., how the automaker has created a collaborative and common infrastructure to improve processes and reduce costs not only for itself, but for its suppliers and IT outsourcing partners.

In fact, this strategy has become a top priority for GM's IT division. While the initiative began in 1996 when the group was formed, it has taken years to reduce the 7,000 disparate global IT systems to 3,500.

Today, between 70% and 80% of GM's total investment on new technology development and deployment is spent on global common priorities. And although standardizing systems has enabled GM to reduce its IT budget by $1 billion annually since 1996, spending on new development and deployment has increased by 8%.

Quoting GM's CIO, Ralph Szygenda, Goebel says, "At a company of GM's size, if you don't have information technology linked to the business, you can waste a lot of money. Not a $1,000. Not even $100 million, but billions."

By applying this strategy, GM has focused on technology, collaboration, and communizing its IT platform around the world. It implemented a global engineering software platform that has reduced the engineering cycle time from 48 months to 24 months, and in some cases to 18 months. GM has also removed hundreds of millions of dollars from its engineering budget, Goebel says. The automaker has created a common IT infrastructure for GM's joint-venture partners, including Dawoo, Fiat, and Suzuki, to design and store data by using a global infrastructure that synchronizes information in five data centers around the world.

This story was updated Sept. 22.

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