GM standardizes data transfer

Name: Preston McPhail

Title: Director, GM Information Systems and Services, Global Order-to-Delivery Services

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When Rick Wagoner took over as General Motors CEO in June 2000, he promised big changes. For one, he said, the automaker had to move "at Internet speed."

But with 4,000 computer systems, that's not easy.

So GM hired SeeBeyond Technology Corp. to standardize its data transfer. GM is using SeeBeyond's () software to create what it calls adapters so computers can extract data from each other regardless of programming languages.

"GM wants to have the ability to deliver seamless, instantaneous communications - both internally and externally - to its dealers and suppliers," said Charles Johnson, 36, SeeBeyond's global manufacturing and retail industry director.

Preston McPhail, 40, director, GM Information Systems and Services, Global Order-to-Delivery Services, said: "We believe that, long term, integrating our computer systems is going to reduce our structural and development costs. We'd like to see a 25 to 50 percent reduction in integration costs over the total life of the program, which is four years."

SeeBeyond focuses on integrating GM's Order-to-Delivery program, which involves 15 computer systems. SeeBeyond is drawing on its experience with a similar integration project for Hewlett-Packard (

In that instance, the computer maker's customer service systems had five business operations worldwide that were using disparate computer systems. Consumers could not check on their orders online and might have waited as long as 24 hours for Hewlett-Packard to respond. Now the computer maker offers that information in real time, Johnson said.

The Monrovia, Calif., software company had revenues of $114.7 million in 2000. It has 806 employees with 12 offices in the United States and seven offices overseas.

Neither SeeBeyond nor GM would discuss the financial terms of their contract. Johnson said that SeeBeyond's typical contracts were in the $400,000 to $500,000 range, but that the GM deal was "for significantly more." it

Joe Cabadas is a Detroit-area free-lance writer. He can be reached at

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