The Importance of Bringing 'Hyper-realism' in the Transportation and Automotive Industry
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The Importance of Bringing 'Hyper-realism' in the Transportation and Automotive Industry

Earl Newsome, Chief Information Officer, Cummins Inc.
Earl Newsome, Chief Information Officer, Cummins Inc.

Earl Newsome, Chief Information Officer, Cummins Inc.

Earl Newsome is currently serving as the chief information officer of Cummins Inc. and has over 30 years of experience in a leading major transformation of global IT organizations into world-class centers of technology innovation and operational excellence. With his strategic vision and IT expertise, Newsome helps organizations align their technology with business requirements and accelerate positive outcomes. His passion for bettering customer experience, increasing employee engagement, and achieving first-mover advantage allows organizations to attain a highly competitive edge in the market.

In his current role, Newsome provides his organization with a strategic vision for developing and implementing IT initiatives along with supporting and leading the internal IT organization and outsourced partners. He also delivers strategic input and executes on IT roadmaps. Newsome is also the co-chair of TechPACT, a civic and social organization that aims to amplify people and partnerships to reduce the digital divide and pursue representative diversity throughout the technology community by the end of the decade.

In an interview with Auto Tech Outlook, Newsome sheds light on how information technology and operational technology are converging to reshape the future of the automotive industry. He also talks about the importance of diversity and inclusion in eliminating the talent shortage affecting the technology space.

Please walk us through a typical day of you as a global IT leader and CIO of Cummins Inc.

While being new at Cummins Inc., during the first year I drove the organization’s transformation efforts by setting a hundred-day agendas. I divide a year into a group of hundred days and try to achieve certain goals in that timeframe. In the first hundred days, I aim to learn more about the company and the industry and immerse myself in how the business operates. To understand its ethnography, I interact with the distributors and visit plants and offices. In the next set of hundred days, I focus on learning the hot topics in the market and categorizing them from most important to least. It is extremely critical in driving our current initiatives and ensuring that they are aligned with the needs of the business. In the third hundred-day span, the process of establishing my brand identity begins. We work on identifying what we would want the IT brand to reflect and what is necessary for us to succeed in our niche. The fourth set is where I establish the agenda and share it with my employees so they can execute it daily. Here, I study and understand our company’s history and collect client feedback to set a strategy that can help the organization improve further and sustain what’s properly functioning. By combining ongoing trends and roadmap, the agenda creates a compelling strategy for the future and charts a path towards successful transformation. In this business flexibility is a virtue, thus the activities in each 100-day segment may change based on progresses and business needs.

The lesson to take away is about thinking and executing your plans by fragmenting them into short-term goals and immersing yourself in the company’s history, objectives, business ideas, and market trends to create a future-proof strategy. It is crucial to understand what your brand reflects and do everything in your power to reinforce that continuously. To do so, you need to build a communication strategy that gets every person in your organization engaged and walking towards success together.

What is your opinion on the automation, connectivity, energy diversity resulting from the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT)?

There is a framework prevalent in the transportation and automotive industry called ACE—automation, connectivity, and energy diversity. But in my opinion, it is more about hyper-automation, hyper-connectivity, and hyper-energy diversity. Typically, IT and OT have technology in common, and when these two come together, it impacts the space through hyper-ACE.

Hyper-automation is not only about automation but also about more of a personalized experience. For example, in the future, we can expect our automobiles to know about us, such as habits, requirements, calendar schedules, and so on. And this feat will mostly be achieved by bringing together all kinds of artificial intelligence including, assistive intelligence and intelligent assistants, to create a more individualized and personalized vehicle in its features and functionalities. With automation becoming critically personalized, it is imperative that it will require a robust cybersecurity posture. In regards to that, the IT personnel would be required to adopt some of the OT characteristics like hyper-resilience and hyper-security to ensure a secure cyber environment. In this way, hyper-automation will have all three tenants—IT, which refers to technology facilitating automation, OT, which makes it resilient and trustworthy; and cybersecurity which renders it safe and secure from threats—working together.

"There is a framework prevalent in the transportation and automotive industry called ACE—automation, connectivity, and energy diversity"

Next comes hyper-connectivity, which refers to technologies sensing and being aware of each other in a graph-based network. A significant example is the ongoing 5G model, which enables operations at the speed of thought. This is where cybersecurity, IT, and OT play a great role as they keep the connections intelligent, resilient, and safe.

Finally, hyper-energy diversity is all about storing and transferring energy efficiently. Soon, we will have a wide variety of storage and delivery choices for multiple use cases, such as fossil-based fuels, non-fossil-based fuels, fuel cells, hydrogen cells, electric cells, and more. In a nutshell, hyper-automation, hyper-connectivity, and hyper-energy diversity will thrive in the ACE world in upcoming years.

How do you envision the IT space changing in the upcoming years from all the potential disruptions and transformations happening today?

The best way to predict the future is to create it. From an industry standpoint, we can expect to serve communities in new and unique ways of hyper-ACE. Creating this capability will allow us to develop an economy that serves each and every need of people or communities. There is a lot of talks happening about environmental and social governance (ESG). It is highly significant today to be concerned about our environment in order to create a better place to live, and thankfully, most organizations are playing an active role in this dialogue. We need to adapt and appropriately use hyper-automation, hyper-connectivity, and hyper-energy diversity to lead the way towards the best possible outcomes for our planet.

As a result, instead of being whimsical about our future and fancying about flying cars, let’s focus on being purposeful and building a future beneficial for both us and the planet. We must create a sustainable, resilient environment that supports and empowers communities of minorities so as to collectively build a responsible and green future.

What would you advise your peers and colleagues regarding navigating the current IT space?

Having years-long experience in the IT space, our biggest responsibility is to not only create a better and fruitful future for our colleagues and peers but also for those who will succeed us. To achieve this vision of building an environment that allows every person to succeed in this niche, a group of CIOs, leaders, and IT professionals has joined their hands to form an organization, TechPACT, that advocates diversity and equity in the technology industry. The organization follows a two-pronged mission—reducing the digital divide and increasing the representation of diverse and minority communities in the technology space. As the co-chair of TechPACT, I would encourage my peers and colleagues to come forward and take the pledge of creating a world where anyone with a passion for technology will have the opportunity to succeed. Currently, every industry is facing massive talent shortages, and it is primarily because of the inequality that exists within it. This is why we have to embrace everyone who is passionate about technology to harness the talents available in the market and leverage it in driving our organizations towards success.

I would advise everyone to join this volunteer-driven organization and share its mission and vision with their networks. We need the power of networking to create a force multiplier that would bring a measurable and meaningful change in the industry. At TechPACT, we call this concept Plus One—impacting one member, one community, and one organization at a time. TechPACT will always be laser-focused on providing proven strategies, resources, and tools to maximize diversity and inclusion in the technology space.

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