Jaguar Land Rover CTO: 'Biggest challenge to Agile is people'

Finding a skilled workforce that can deliver Jaguar Land Rover’s ambitious SaaS based IT goals in an agile manner has been one of the biggest challenges for the UK car manufacturer’s chief technology officer Anthony Headlam, he revealed.

Headlam has been leading a “mobilising” of the car firm’s legacy IT that was “designed in the seventies and deployed in the eighties” to gain better insight from its connected cars and the digital channels it uses to interact with its customers, business users and 35,000 employees across the world.

He believes that by creating several layers of SaaS tools and an enterprise API gateway the firm can "further itself" from older applications like its SAP estate, which is "essential" for Jaguar Land Rover to achieve its business goals with increasingly connected cars, increased workforces and new manufacturing plants in emerging markets like China and Brazil.

Speaking at Cloud World Forum this morning, he said: "Getting appropriately skilled people to make the choices and drive the change into the business and drive a new delivery cycle has been my challenge.

Headlam said the IT operations team were not “where we need to be yet” but had made an excellent start. It currently makes a release every three months, and is aiming for a monthly delivery, he said.

The firm, which runs SAP alongside other legacy applications gathered while under different owners, is working to get as much of its IT on a SaaS model as possible.

“By mobilising away from my backend, by getting everything as far out as I possibly can and with a ‘public cloud first then tell me why I can’t’ is the only way, we believe, we can deliver on Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition in the coming two to three years”, he said.

However, security and culture amongst information teams and operations teams have slowed the process.

“My desperate desire to get as much of my world onto a consumption based model is a large challenge”, he admitted.

Prior to designing a new architectural model three years ago, “90 percent of IT function worked in operations”, making incremental changes on an estimated 17,00 applications. Now it has reduced the operations workforce to just 25 percent of IT, Headlam said.

“This journey is absolutely critical to our success.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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