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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.

"I took the decision [to move to Gmail] because we had to move fast," he says of the decision he made as JLR exited Ford ownership and systems. Today JLR employees use up to five different Google applications.

"We mandated at the start that people use Google Mail and Calendar. We are not mandating the others, instead we see how it goes, but every time I go into the Google environment I'm impressed by how much is in there.

"We have a Google group for the management team for sending official attachments," he says, underlining the trust JLR has in the provider.

"We haven't invested in training, people use Google at home," Vincent says. This view influences his attitude towards the buzz terms 'cloud computing' and 'consumerisation'. Gmail has 420 million global users, but Vincent is only interested in the business benefits Google or SaaS offer JLR. On consumerisation, he accepts that many JLR employees will have better IT at home than at work, and again it reinforces his belief in having a strong relationship with Google.

"Google provides service to tens of millions customers, they do it securely and with good performance. Corporate IT needs to act like Google," he says.

As part of the Tata group, JLR has taken the opportunity to use the systems integrator services that its IT service subsidiary TCS is known for.

"I think of Tata as our owners and investors. That doesn't mean they dictate. As business leaders they let us do our thing and get on with it. We are profitable and considered a jewel in the crown.

"In IT I made a specific choice to leverage IT capability where I can from within the Tata group, not to do favours, there is the same tender process as any vendor has to go through.

"This autumn, after two years, a deal was done with TCS to operate parts of the legacy estate and for them to engage in our global SAP programme. The main reason for this is that TCS are good at it and they have global reach, which I don't.

"In three years' time when we are a global firm, that will raise the level of complexity for our inbound and outbound supply chains as we will be shipping bodies and components and our current systems are not fit for that. So now we can make our IT enterprise scalable and we need a modern IT architecture to do that," he says.

The challenge for Vincent and the JLR management is that creating the IT architecture to take the company global could be seen as syphoning fuel away from the programmes that will develop new products for the market. Vincent has secured £125m in capex funding.


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