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

...someone who is hugely interested in technology: "I have enough technical nous so I can pick my way though things and the technical guys don't easily pull the wool over my eyes, but I'm definitely not a techie and the last thing I want to do at home is play with a PC."

"My job is about the relationship with the business and being able to speak in a normal language and not speak about TCP IP or VoIP or anything like that," he added.

Standardising technology in the UK and around the world

The general IT priorities for Honda UK are to simplify and standardise infrastructure while continuing to serve the needs of the business, according to Jackson.

Jackson is currently looking at how to reduce the number of elements that form the IT infrastructure, including antivirus, desktop operating systems, PCs and printers.

That process fits the strategy Honda is looking to follow globally: "In the past, Honda has absolutely valued the level of autonomy it allowed its companies around the world. So it allowed its companies to do whatever they liked in terms of IT, in terms of finance, in terms of HR. Where Honda has got to in the world, in the size of the company, it's got there by allowing autonomy, allowing local decision-making. But with the economy over the past two or three years, Honda has realised that actually we do need to make even more changes to be more efficient and therefore there is a very large objective to standardise across our region and later on, globally," Jackson told silicon.com.

As Honda UK is part of Honda Motor Europe, Jackson reports to European CIO Hironobu Tsuji, whose department is based in the same office in Langley near Slough. As part of his role, Jackson also oversees the general desktop infrastructure and applications for Honda Motor Europe. Honda's car factory in Swindon operates its IT independently.

Working closely with Tsuji, Jackson is starting to look at how to standardise technology across Europe. An indication of the scale of the challenge that lies ahead is that the 30 European countries in which Honda has a presence run a similar number of antivirus technologies.

"There are several projects at the moment looking at what we are going to do with antivirus, what we are going to do with printers, what we are going to do with PC suppliers, what we are going to do with operating systems because some of us are on Windows Vista, some on XP, some on Citrix. The projects haven't come to fruition at the moment but they're all starting to look to see how we standardise across Europe," he said.

As well as the cost savings and efficiency benefits that simplifying the technology infrastructure will bring, it also...