ford john ginder.automotiveIT

Ford's John Ginder uses new data analysis techniques to help Ford's operations (Photo: Ford)

John Ginder, who runs the big-data operations of Ford Motor, sees his role as allowing the carmaker”˜s operating units to solve their problems with the help of IT. "We look for opportunities where organizations don't have the bandwidth to tackle problems and need some heavy lifting or some novel IT techniques," Ginder said in an interview with automotiveIT at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan in September.

automotiveIT: How did Ford Motor get into big data?

It started 15 years ago when the company developed an interest in the opportunities there could be in leveraging data. With the coming of Ford CEO Alan Mulally, analytics gained in importance. That”˜s because there was an urgency to find solutions. Mulally also encouraged people to consider things they hadn”˜t considered before. We were data-driven before, but data has been a focus of Alan”˜s from the beginning.

Can you explain how you work within the Ford Group?

We're kind of internal consultants and we collaborate with all parts of the company. For example, somebody has a certain idea and we can help understand the complexity and the implications. There's an explosion of data and analytics that we want to use to assess how we do things internally. We”˜re beginning to integrate pockets of siloed data that are physically in different locations. An open-source software such as Hadoop could help us there. (Hadoop is a Java-based programming framework that allows the processing of large data sets - automotiveIT)