From Windows 7 to being your own CIO, how IT is putting a tiger back in General Motors' tank

Interview: GM Europe CIO Alejandro Martinez Galindo on the role IT can play in turning a global business around...

IT is critical in GM's turnaround

GM Europe CIO Alejandro Martinez Galindo is using technology to turn the car giant's fortunes aroundPhoto: GM

With a century of history and a recent bankruptcy behind it, General Motors - the company behind car brands such as Cadillac, Chevrolet and Vauxhall - is in the middle of an epic turnaround.

In June 2009, General Motors declared itself bankrupt in the biggest industrial insolvency in US history after running up losses of around $90bn.

Fast-forward almost two years and, following significant restructuring, including the closure of factories, reduction in the size of its dealer network and benefits for retiring workers, GM has returned to profitability.

IT has its own role to play in improving the car maker's fortunes: GM Europe's CIO Alejandro Martinez Galindo describes his main aim as "first and foremost to support the turnaround of General Motors in Europe".

"As a CIO, you can just go to your shop and try to run it as efficiently as possible and try to bring innovation. Or, you can really feel the heat, and go to the operations and bring different business models that generate revenues. You need to be an active member of the turnaround of the company," he told

A recent addition to's CIO50 list of the UK's most influential heads of IT, Martinez Galindo is based at GM's European HQ in Bracknell, where he heads a tech team of 300. "Our responsibility is starting with the product development and engineering, all the manufacturing, the supply chain, all the selling, the relationship with dealers, distribution of parts and accessories - it's the entire shop," he said.

GM's ongoing project to reinvent the company - "you name it, we are touching all the core areas of the business. This is reinventing ourselves, changing the DNA of our company, changing the way we do business" - means IT is undergoing a significant transformation.

Martinez Galindo is currently overseeing a restructuring of IT in GM Europe, a process that started three years ago and has been significantly ramped up in the past 18 months.

"In a nutshell I am halfway done with a major revamping of the entire IT landscape in Europe which means infrastructure and applications," Martinez Galindo said.

The transformation work is based around...