Council Governs Corporate Technology Standards

A global standards council keeps tabs on tech acquisitions.

As the merger of Daimler-Benzag and Chrysler Corp. unfolded, the need for corporate technology standards came to the forefront and resulted in the creation in 2001 of the Global Technology Council.

"We understood we needed some governing body for new technologies," said Vince Morrotti, chief technology officer at DaimlerChrysler AG, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Morrotti, an American, was CIO of Daimler before the merger with Chrysler.

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The council, which meets monthly via a global videoconference, has approximately 20 members, drawn from the Chrysler, Mercedes, Commercial Vehicles and Financial Services divisions.

"If someone has a need for content management, for example, the requirements are reviewed by this cross-functional group. Then they decide on a standard offering. Anyone else coming along after that has to use that technology," said Morrotti, adding that Vignette Corp.s V6 Content Management Services emerged as the content management standard.

Purchasing products from a list of approved global standards cuts acquisition costs by generating volume purchases. It also cuts support costs because more expertise is accumulated in the company in fewer technologies.

Establishing IBMs Lotus Notes as a corporate e-mail and groupware standard was a first critical step. Subsequently, "we had a number of different middleware products, and we standardized on [IBMs] WebSphere," said Morrotti. Proving, however, that DaimlerChrylser is not in lock step with a single vendor, the company has embraced Microsoft Corp.s .Net architecture for applications that use Web services.

Sometimes vendors are selected through online bidding. A case in point is worldwide PC purchases. In the United States, Dell Inc. was the winner for desktops and laptops. In EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and Asia, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Siemens AG desktops are used along with IBM laptops.

Where the GTC weighs in is on the software image thats loaded onto each PC. "On laptops and desktops, thats very important to us, to distribute software and apply security patches," said Morrotti.

DaimlerChrysler is in the midst of a rollout of Windows XP on 170,000 PCs worldwide. With about one-third of the upgrades completed, Morrotti aims to have 90 percent converted by years end.

Discipline stressed by Morrotti was critical in DaimlerChryslers use of IT through the dot-com boom-and-bust cycle, said DaimlerChrysler CIO Susan Unger. "At the beginning of the e-hype stuff, Vinces group took a very strong stand and made some bets early on when it wasnt so well-known what the right choices were going to be. That team made the right bets. We have an e-infrastructure thats in place and working globally," said Unger.

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