How Honda UK is heading down the global tech road

Honda UK CIO Gareth Jackson discusses the challenges of running local IT for a global company

As Honda's UK CIO, Gareth Jackson faces the complex balancing act of catering for local needs while addressing the multinational's global technology strategy.

And it's a challenge that Jackson thrives on, judging by his 15 years at Honda UK. In his earlier career, he changed jobs every three years, working variously as an analyst at ICI Paint, a project manager at Unilever, a management consultant with Pricewaterhouse and an IT manager at US telecoms provider Bell South - so it's clear he feels at home at Honda.

Jackson initially headed up the IT function at Honda's UK car factory in Swindon before taking on the CIO role at the corporate head office about eight years ago.

With its global success and range of high-tech products, it's easy to understand why Honda is an interesting place to work. Founded in Japan by Soichiro Honda in 1948, the Honda Motor Company started as an engine and motorcycle maker, but more than 60 years later it has become a global company that also produces cars, powered equipment and even robots.

The company is at the cutting edge of car technology, manufacturing a range of hybrid vehicles but also the FCX Clarity, the first commercially produced car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Honda FCX Clarity: The first commercially produced hydrogen-powered car

Honda UK is part of a global concern whose products include the first commercial hydrogen-powered car, the FCX Clarity
Photo: Honda UK

Speaking to, Jackson discussed the challenges of heading up local IT for a global company, working with a franchised dealer network and the skills a CIO needs in 2011.

The CIO skills for 2011

Jackson told that an essential and major skill for a CIO in 2011 is to work out what technology will actually be useful to a business and provide leadership in implementing it.

"There is so much hype in IT but it's working through the hype and trying to find the value. That, to me, is the crucial element a CIO has to have these days - enough technical knowledge to look at what's out there and work out the value and then once they've worked that out, take it to the business and say 'this is what we should be doing'," he said.

But despite what his job entails, Jackson says he's not...