Technology: Revolutionizing the Automotive Industry

Zackery Hicks, CIO, Toyota North America
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Zackery Hicks, CIO, Toyota North America

Challenges and Wish List for 2014

As we move more applications, solutions and IT workloads to the cloud (PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, etc.), we are faced with identity, security, privacy, management, orchestration and integration of challenges as well as cost implications. Technology providers have done a good job over recent years building cloud solutions to procure applications and business solutions that deliver innovation and improve speed to market. However, many of the challenges listed above, such as cloud orchestration, have not been addressed effectively to date. In the future, technology providers that focus on these areas will position themselves to add the most value. Wish list: Microsoft Office on an iPAD.

"Digital technology has created a connected culture in the U.S. and consumers expect to have constant access to technology, therefore, managing technology is the solution"

OTS Applications and Platforms–A Challenge

One of the areas that keep me up at night is the upgrade cycle of COTS applications and platforms. Conducting these upgrades is often tedious and consumes an inordinate amount of resources. Unfortunately, the incremental business value from the upgrades pale in comparison to the expense. However, these upgrades reduce security and reliability risks of aging software and are often mandatory.

Latest Trends in Technology

We continue to see tremendous advancement in the connected vehicle as the line blurs between consumer’s personal technologies and offerings in the vehicle. The connected car is very much an extension of today’s digital lifestyle as it is the third fastest growing technological device, following smartphones and tablets. Additionally, digital technology has created a connected culture in the U.S. and consumers expect to have constant access to technology, therefore, managing technology is the solution. As this space matures and the technologies blend more seamlessly, our customers’ experience will continue to improve. This technology is going to revolutionize safety, with better environment sensing such as vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure connectivity, which will start saving more lives by helping drivers avoid accidents.

My Role as a CIO

Over the last few years, IT has become much more ingrained in the business/strategic planning efforts in the company. With IT as an integral part of our product, my relationships have deepened with all of my business executive counterparts. For many  years, this organization has made concerted efforts to ensure we have a seat at the table with our counterparts and are not imply order takers. These efforts have paid off as the business understands the capabilities we bring to the table and how collectively, we can determine the optimal go forward strategy.

Advice for Fellow CIOs

The role of technology has never been greater and our business leaders want the partnership with IT. We have the  opportunity to engage with business executives at a much deeper level to show how IT can enable the business they strive to achieve without hiding behind technical acronyms. Every interaction provides an opportunity to demonstrate that IT operates with a true understanding of what drives the business. For those fellow CIOs that don’t feel they have that underlying business foundation, it is time to proactively address that gap. CIOs that remain comfortable in the back office rather than ensuring they have a seat at the table, risk being viewed solely as a cost center than a value generator.

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