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Inside Toyota Australia's tech transformation

Hamish Barwick | Dec. 18, 2012
A complete organisational restructure of the entire IT division in 2009 which involved consolidation of four level one help desks into a single integrated service desk, helped Japanese car manufacturer, Toyota Australia, make improvements in its operational and service delivery.

"We've just finished doing an upgrade to Office 2010 internally so we'll stick with that before we consider moving," Brover says. "We also recently installed Windows Server 2010 as a large part of our transformation has involved modernising and replacing a lot of legacy hardware and operating systems."

For example, Toyota Australia previously used a number of Windows 2003 and 2000 systems.

Tablets

While the organisation is largely a Microsoft shop, in 2012 it rolled out iPhones and iPads for staff and Toyota dealers.

"There has been much higher productivity [with tablets] as Toyota has a lot of staff who are very mobile," he says. "There are dealers in rural and remote locations, so for them they get a great deal of benefit out of iPads and mobile devices."

However, Brover adds that ISD is currently evaluating Windows 8 tablet offerings to see if these could be implemented in the future.

"When we looked at usability and manageability, the iPads stood out as being corporate-friendly and easy to manage in a secure fashion," he says.

In addition, the company has a BYOD policy that supports iPhones and iPads. This is because ISD has 100 full time IT staff and contractors with outsourcing agreements through Fujitsu for data centre services while NEC provides telecommunications services.

"Hopefully we will have completed our data centre refresh by the end of 2012 which includes firewalls, routers, servers and storage," Brover says.

Toyota culture

Turning to the wider Toyota business, the response from the board has been "very positive".

"One of the big changes that happened within our IT division is a cultural change to be more of a business centric division," he says."That's been strongly welcomed by the board and it also means we're providing the business tools that are needed to get the job done.

"We still have some way to go, and I don't want to pretend that we've finished our journey yet, but our perception with business users is changing dramatically."

He adds that the total transformation of the ISD division won't be complete until the end of 2013 but adds that it will "never stop improving" because the Toyota culture is based around constant improvement.

Brover was also insistent that the company does not follow Japanese culture but what is referred to as the "Toyota Way" based on production principles such as continuous improvement.

"There is a lot of alignment between what the IT world is doing and what Toyota has been doing for many decades now in manufacturing," he says. "That is one of the things that helped us make it a success - there is a natural business understanding within Toyota of what we are doing."

 

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