Ford Motor Co.wants to improve its Big Data and analytics capabilities. That’s one of the reasons the company has decided to expand its presence in Silicon Valley, according to executives at the opening of its Research and Innovation Center, Thursday.
“One of our strategies as a company is we’re thinking of ourselves not just as an automotive company, but we’re also thinking of ourselves as a mobility company,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, during a media event here.
The automaker plans to hire 125 professionals including researchers, software engineers and data scientists by the end of 2015. Aside from Big Data, Ford will focus on research and development of autonomous vehicle and mobile technology. The company wants to improve speech recognition for in-vehicle use. Ford is also working with Nest, part of Google Inc., on the ability for its vehicles to communicate with home thermostats so a person’s heat might be automatically lowered as he or she drives away from the house. Nest is also skilled at data analytics.
Ford joins rivals Nissan Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. and other major carmakers in establishing a larger presence in Silicon Valley, a source for tech talent and ideas that have managed to become both the bane and the inspiration for today’s auto industry. The new 25,000-square-foot facility will be located not far from the headquarters of Google Inc., ground zero for autonomous driving, as well as electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc.
The company will sharpen its skills in Big Data analytics skills on the vehicle side of the business and then take those learnings back into the broader business. Ford plans to expand those analytics tools into marketing and sales, finance, purchasing and manufacturing, said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product development and chief technical officer.
“I think Big Data will be much bigger than telematics,” Mr. Nair told CIO Journal.
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