Why GM's Hiring 3,000 IT Pros From HP

Move answers a key question that had been hanging over GM CIO Randy's Mott's strategy.
General Motors plans to hire 3,000 IT people who now work for Hewlett-Packard on GM projects. HP has been one of the main IT service providers for GM, which is bringing nearly all of its outsourced IT work in-house.

GM CIO Randy Mott, on board since February, thinks his IT workers can be more efficient and effective as in-house employees. The 3,000 HP people GM is bringing onboard have been running and developing IT systems for the automaker in locations worldwide. Their hiring is part of an IT overhaul led by Mott that will move the company from relying on outsourcers for 90% of its IT operations to only 10%.

The pact with HP answers one question hanging over Mott's strategy: Could GM hire thousands of employees and get them up to speed on the car industry fast enough to avoid disruptions? HP says many of those 3,000 hires are long-timers on the GM account, so they know the company and the industry. They'll join GM over the next six months.

Mott said he can get more value out of those 3,000 people by changing the kinds of work they do. He expects to automate a lot of the work outsourcers used to do, so that IT staffers can work on more innovative, change-the-business kinds of projects. "Their jobs will be changing pretty rapidly," Mott said, during a conference call discussing the HP deal.

[ Want details on GM's insourcing? Read General Motors Will Slash Outsourcing In IT Overhaul. ]

That drive for automation leads to the second part of GM's deal with HP. GM plans to buy HP software to increase automation of tasks such as infrastructure monitoring and management, as well as for information security. George Kadifa, executive VP of HP Software, called the deal "the largest deployment of our full software portfolio in the world."

Mott, who was CIO of HP until June 2011, has experience with those platforms, having used them to drive automation and consolidation at HP. At GM, Mott's plan includes consolidating 23 data centers to 2, as well as reducing the number of applications GM runs by at least 40%.

GM will also implement HP's Autonomy data management software and Vertica analytics software. Mott puts those investments in the innovation category, since they address the company's shortcomings in using data to gain insights into the business, from customer buying habits to warranty redemption trends to production data from assembly plants. GM will also implement HP portfolio management software to help manage its projects, as Mott implements his detailed planning process.

GM has also entered into service contracts with GM to help the automaker with its data center consolidation, legacy application modernization, and security-related projects. Neither company would reveal the value of the deal.

GM previously announced that it will hire about 1,500 employees in Warren, Mich., outside Detroit, and about 500 in Austin, Texas, for what it calls "innovation centers." Those people are supposed to focus on working with business units to craft IT-powered projects and quickly deliver them.

While Mott hasn't discussed specifics on the kind of innovative projects GM needs, CEO Dan Akerson has identified the need for better data warehousing and more data-driven decision making, and Mott has noted that too much data is in silos that could be more powerful if shared across business groups. Mott estimates GM has about 200 sizeable data warehouses, and his goal is to move that onto one architecture. But IT will be under pressure for new ideas across GM's business: in-car technology, customer research such as social network sentiment analysis, globalizing applications, dealer management, and global collaboration tools.

There's a famous quote about Alabama football coach Bear Bryant: "Bryant can take his'n and beat your'n, and then he can turn around and take your'n and beat his'n." Mott has to prove he can do something similar. He's using 3,000 of the same people who have been doing IT for GM, but with a different strategy and focus he thinks he can make better use of them. The key, Mott say, will be moving many of those people out of run-the-business roles and into innovation roles.

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