DETROIT -- IBM and Dassault Systemes have won a major software deal to help Ford Motor Co. bring vehicles to market more quickly while improving quality.
Make that, EDS has won a major software deal to help Ford.
What's going on? In an era of tight spending, when information technology companies are eager to flaunt big contracts, Ford last week found itself with a public relations headache. It wound up in the middle of a battle of one-upsmanship between IBM/Dassault and EDS over news that each had snagged a huge deal that will let Ford digitally design vehicles and/or streamline collaboration between its factories and suppliers.
"I just don't feel like talking anymore," said Ford spokesman Paul Wood, who was doing damage control on Thursday, Feb. 6. "There's no winner. There's no loser."
Triggering the headache were news reports late Feb. 5 that the deal for key IBM/Dassault "product life-cycle management" tools with Ford was a blow to EDS. Ford is a longtime customer of EDS of Plano, Texas.
EDS followed with a press release saying Ford had chosen its product life-cycle management technology.
Product life-cycle management is a collection of computer software and services that links product design, engineering and manufacturing areas in real time. The goal is to streamline communication and speed product development. EDS and IBM/Dassault are the largest providers of these tools to automakers.
The tools include computer-aided design software - known as CAD - that is used widely by all major automakers. Some automakers, such as DaimlerChrysler, use Dassault's
CATIA product. Others, including General Motors, use EDS software.
As it turned out, Ford will use CATIA as well as EDS products. The software will be phased in over several years - at least five for the IBM/Dassault project, said one analyst. Terms of the deals, which Ford called expanded commitments to the companies, were not disclosed.
Still, Ford took the unusual step of having one of its vice presidents, Chief Information Officer Marv Adams, issue a statement saying some of the media reports - as high as $500 million but closer to $50 million - "are grossly distorted."
Said Adams: "For years Ford Motor Co. has pursued a multi-CAD strategy - that strategy has not changed. Both EDS and IBM/Dassault are key partners to Ford Motor Co."