Tony Scott

When General Motors' employee portal needed revving up, the responsibility fell to CTO Tony Scott.

Chief Technology Officer, General Motors

Age: 48

Degree: Law degree from Santa Clara University; bachelors degree in information systems from the University of San Francisco.

Car: "I have a lot of cars. My favorite car is a 2000 [Chevrolet] Corvette."

Stress reliever: Sailing

When General Motors employee portal needed revving up, the responsibility fell to CTO Tony Scott. Many focus-group studies later, Scott decided to outsource the job and tapped application service provider Workscape, which also counts DaimlerChrysler among its customers. As GMs new portal, dubbed MySocrates, began to roll out in the U.S., Senior Writer Mindy Charski spoke with Scott about his new venture, and the role he plays at one of the worlds top vehicle manufacturers.

Describe your responsibilities at GM.

I work in three areas. Emerging technology is first. We try to work with all the big suppliers of technology to GM. We spend over $3.2 billion a year on information technology. That kind of spending means youre going to buy a lot of stuff from a lot of different vendors. My function is to look at whats in the labs of those companies so we make good planning and migration decisions in terms of where the technology is taking us. The second area is the standards space. My group manages all the [IT] standards for the company. And this has been a particularly fertile area in GM. GM was a collection of car divisions and other businesses that had the same corporate umbrella -- which meant everyone did their own thing in their technology choices. In the last four or five years theres been a much stronger concerted effort to be common and global in our technology choices. The third area is enterprise architecture. This is probably the biggest challenge among the three. Our group brings all the lower-level architecture -- like the security architecture and manufacturing architecture -- together at the enterprise level, and makes sure we have a coherent top-level domain architecture.

A number of enterprises are considering employee portals. How did you choose Workscape?

We looked at a lot of different portal technologies, and a couple of models our focus groups rejected. One was a heavy advertising-based model, and what our focus groups showed us was employees didnt like flashy ads and screen clutter and all that. Another model a lot of companies were showing us was shopping-focused, which said, "Lets give people a high-quality shopping experience." Our focus group said, "If Im on the Internet, I already know how to do this." [With regard to Workscape,] we said, "I want content relevant to me in context at work and interesting at home, and I really want to enhance those experiences across those two spaces." Also, we liked their whole approach to employee self-service . . . if you change your address, you fill out a form and it cascades into all other [human resources] applications that need to know.

How will GMs more than 200,000 U.S. employees access the porta?

Youll be able to get at content from your PC at work. If youre not at work and you have a PC, for $3 a month you can use America Online as your Internet service provider to get to the portal. If you dont have a PC, you can use an AOLTV device that costs $5 a month.