by Timothy McCabe

CIO’s Passion: Building a ‘Connected Delphi’

Jan 30, 20143 mins
Car TechCIO

Delphi Automotive’s CIO is paving the way toward a connected, socially-enabled, collaborative workplace

When I became CIO in 2009, it was my passion to take a dispersed company and work to help unify it as a connected Delphi. We have 120,000 employees in 32 countries who engineer and build automotive solutions and manage customers. Each day, we receive 250 million pieces of raw material from 6,500 supplier locations and produce 60 million parts for 23,000 customer locations.

Of course, this doesn’t all happen in one room; developing a crash-avoidance system might involve people speaking several languages in several time zones, working on intricate engineering drawings that have to be managed securely, using version control and a follow-the-sun methodology. That’s why we’re working to bring our connected Delphi vision into reality.

The first step of this process involves providing access to information, regardless of device or location. We’re doing that with cloud-based document management and enterprise search.

The second is refining our ability to attract, hire and retain great employees. We ship a billion lines of code a day, and to attract talented programmers, we need a collaborative culture that allows flexibility in how work gets done. By 2020, 45 percent of the workforce will be millennials, so being an employer of choice now requires not just competitive pay and benefits, but also a desirable work style.

Third is nurturing innovation. When diverse people get together, they devise more creative solutions. To encourage that, we’ve made social networking tools like Yammer available, we’ve redone our intranet, and we’re deploying Microsoft Lync for audio- and videoconferencing.

And finally, we must foster collaboration. As our CEO said to me, “No matter where you are, you’re 70 percent out of position,” meaning if you’re in Germany, you’re close to the action there, but that might be just 30 percent of what’s happening in Delphi as a whole. If a lead engineer is having trouble with the conductivity of a particular combination of metals, how can you bend space, time and distance so he or she can quickly find and connect with someone who’s written a related article? We’re working to make that happen through technology like video presence and unified communications.

We’re already seeing tangible benefits. For instance, high-definition cameras on the plant floor have shortened our problem-resolution times and reduced travel for engineers. It’s still in the early days, but we’ve designed a cost-benefit analysis to measure startup production, design cycles and collaborative sessions.

The important thing is staying relevant and being contextually aware. If I had started talking about deploying Yammer and Newsgator on top of Lync several years ago, during Delphi’s restructuring, I would have been considered out of touch. You need to be in front of the enterprise–not waiting for them to verbalize their needs–but they have to be able to understand the ideas you’re proposing. We have a willing CEO and a willing enterprise, so the confluence is perfect. We haven’t solved it all yet, but we see the art of the possible and are pursuing some of these objectives and goals.

Timothy McCabe is SVP and CIO at Delphi Automotive.