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CIO Jeremy Vincent hunts down an exciting future at Jaguar Land Rover

Mark Chillingworth | Feb. 7, 2013
The night before we meet Jeremy Vincent, CIO of luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover there had been a technological problem on one of the production lines. For any CIO and any manufacturer this is an issue, but for this British manufacturing institution the enormity of the problem is amplified because around the world there is a hunger for its products akin to that of the big cat which Jaguar is named after.

"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," he says.

That visibility accelerates JLR's plans to simplify its operations as it increases its product range.

"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."

Vincent explains that rivals Audi bases its models on far fewer platforms -- the basic foundations of a vehicle such as its chassis and wheelbase -- than JLR.

"We want to consolidate the platforms with base data and geometry. We used to have one platform per vehicle.

"As CIO I like to think we have a good business-aligned strategy," he says. Vincent likes to draw diagrams to explain his points and as we drive deeper into this strategy he splits his notepad into a four-box grid to represent the legacy IT, modernisation, continuous improvement and innovation elements of his role.

In 'legacy' Vincent is tackling the traditional raft of clients and networks. "We have a lot of that. I still have to operate it and a key dimension of the job is to operate that with no business disruptions," he says.

Cost reduction and convergence form the gears of 'modernisation' and data quality is the fuel of Vincent's 'continuous improvement' plans.

"How we can use technology to add serious competitive ability and make a difference to the business," is Vincent's definition of the vital fourth 'innovation' square, and this is the one that you can see really turbo charges the CIO.

"We have a strategy that is doing the right amounts of stuff in all of these areas," he says, going on to explain the importance of working on all four.

"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," Vincent said in the interview, shortly before the company announced its possible plans to open a factory in Saudi Arabia.

From email to Gmail

At the first CIO Summit in 2010, Vincent's presentation on his implementation of Google Mail in place of more traditional platforms garnered a great deal of interest.


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