General Motors has accomplished more with its information technology transformation in the last five years than many thought was possible.
The programs and initiatives being developed by the operations, detailed in a two-part series in September by Automotive News, are helping position the automaker to be a leader in mobility, autonomous vehicles and transportation as a service.
But first, GM had to overcome one of its biggest challenges: talent acquisition.
IT professionals are in high demand, and they haven't typically chosen the Motor City over Silicon Valley. GM's tumble into bankruptcy in 2009 only highlighted the contrast between the plodding auto business and the dynamism of the tech and mobile communications industries.
In that context, what GM Global Chief Information Officer Randy Mott did is remarkable: attracting nearly 10,000 new IT professionals, including 3,000 recent college graduates, as part of the insourcing program that began in 2012.
GM did so by actively recruiting at 40 of the country's top IT universities. Rather than plead with recruits to settle in Detroit, it placed development centers in strategic locations across the country. The centers are in Austin, Texas; Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix; Roswell, Ga., outside Atlanta; and at GM's r&d headquarters in Warren, Mich. — near well-known IT incubators and within 200 miles of more than half of the top computer-science universities in the U.S.
"If you're really going to build a ground-up IT organization to support a global company, and you're really going to build it for innovation ... you want the ability to have reach around talent," said Mott. "That's really what we created."
The facilities work interchangeably and are tightly connected by telecommunications systems, allowing IT employees to choose where they would like to work and participate in day-to-day meetings. At the facilities, it is not uncommon to see employees working in lounges and speaking different languages.
It's the kind of freedom and flexibility that has allowed the automaker to build a stable of diverse professionals and a level of talent that once seemed out of reach.