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CIO Jeremy Vincent hunts down an exciting future at Jaguar Land Rover

Mark Chillingworth | Feb. 7, 2013
The night before we meet Jeremy Vincent, CIO of luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover there had been a technological problem on one of the production lines. For any CIO and any manufacturer this is an issue, but for this British manufacturing institution the enormity of the problem is amplified because around the world there is a hunger for its products akin to that of the big cat which Jaguar is named after.

"You couldn't engineer, make or design these products with profitability without leveraging some serious IT. The example I always use of a business without having to make these IT investments is sheep farming. But no blue chip business can grow without these investments."

Vincent explains that running a blue chip business that produces blue chip products means he has to have an IT estate of the same stature that includes 3D visualisation systems, geometry creation and safety testing systems.

Virtual showroom

Innovative use of technology doesn't end with the creation of the product. Vincent's team has been involved in the creation of virtual dealership experiences.

"As we increase dealers and as real estate around the world becomes more expensive, yet our vehicle lines are growing, how do we demonstrate the vehicles and configurations? We do it virtually," he states.

Following a conversation with the CEO on this issue, a prototype virtual product creation and demonstration system was developed that provides JLR dealers with a life-sized, big-screen experience to configure a personalised Jaguar saloon car that is rendered right in front of the customer so that they can take a virtual tour.

"It had a wow factor and our global brand director realised we could use it for the launch of the F-type and then the new Range Rover and we built it on proven technology. It was used in front of the press at the launch of the F-type at the Paris Motor Show and orders were placed by customers that had used the system, which will now be rolled out.

Vincent reports to the CEO and says the pair share frequent frank discussions that lead to IT being used to accelerate the ambitions of JLR. Vincent relishes the challenge, yet sees the role of IT changing.

"I actually think anyone heading up IT today is in the middle of a time of flux and it will go on for a few years yet. The punching power of IT was in the IT department with the management of the desktop and knitting interfaces and that is where we have been for 25 years. Those leaders are my age and they have lived the journey that I have been through.

"I've got to where I am, but there has to be a new 21st Century IT that is about doing things in a better way to beat the competition.

Technology capabilities had always been less than the business problem that IT had to solve, but that is changing and technology is on the cusp of being better than the business problem.

"As C-level executives we have seen technology not deliver, and now want a different vision."

 

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