Movin On Up: E-Execs Hit The Fast Track - Page 2

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The Change Agent

When General Motors was looking for someone to head its newly formed B2C unit, e-GM, the automotive giant couldnt decide where to turn. "There was a lot of debate whether we should get an e-com professional from outside or someone from inside who has been a proven leader in environments where cultural change is required," says Hogan.

It was Hogan, now a GM group vice president and head of e-GM, who ended up with the job. Having led GMs Brazilian operation through a number of economic and social changes and headed the effort to reinvent manufacturing with GMs small car group, Hogan had an abundance of operational experience but admittedly was a babe in the woods regarding the technical aspects of e-business.

The result was a baptism by fire, or in this case, water. "I was getting immersed with a fire hose, in terms of what our e-business initiatives and opportunities were," he admits. A quick study, Hogan soon got up to speed with the help of an adviser Compaq Computer has assigned to the e-GM account and extensive briefings from other vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. "They were kind enough to give me a pretty good grounding," Hogan explains.

As the head honcho at e-GM, Hogans charter is to connect with the companys 120 million customers around the globe on a regular basis. "Today our contact with them is episodic, meaning every three to five years, when a customer buys or leases a new vehicle," he explains. "We need to have a much more proactive, ongoing relationship through our B2C interface."

Hogan, who has 150 people under him - 50 of whom report on a dotted-line basis to various international business heads - is using e-GM to sell more than Chevrolets and Buicks. "Were not just featuring vehicles, but a broad array of services, and other components, like our vast parts operation."

Bringing all of GMs products under one e-commerce umbrella involves a global CRM effort that centers on tying together 15 disparate databases. "This will allow us to communicate more effectively and cross sell," Hogan says.

Through alliances with the likes of America Online and Net Zero and its own shopping portal, GM BuyPower, GM is attempting to expand its customer base by reaching out to virtual communities such as ICAN, a leading Internet group for the disabled, or Club Mom, a site for young families. "These communities have special needs and requirements, and we want to be able to tailor a marketing plan specifically for them. That way we can be much more precise with our $2 billion ad budget."

How is Hogan himself being evaluated in this post? "One measure is increased sales by new customers," he says. "Its not sufficient just to sell to the current customer base."

Hogan apparently is off to a fast start. He reports that in recent months, GM BuyPower traffic is up 2,000 percent.