Ford Drives Automotive Infotainment via Innovative Outsourcing

innovative, apps, infotaintment.2014 Outsourcing Excellence Awards

Most Innovative

Ford Motor Company and Luxoft

 “We’ve used outsourcing at Ford for many years, but this project delivered several firsts for our product development teama partnership with global provider Luxoft and an automotive infotainment breakthrough.”         

Julius Marchwicki, Global Product Manager

Outsourcing is not new to Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader who manufacturers and distributes automobiles across six continents.

But when you’re looking for a way to strengthen your market position in automotive IT intelligence, maintain and grow your reputation as a leader in automotive IT technology and strengthen your hold on emerging markets, you look for an innovative approach.  With existing joint ventures in other areas, Ford leaders were familiar with the unique capabilities offered by Luxoft.

Innovative automotive IT solutions

Ford identified the talented Luxoft team in 2011, beginning a global software outsourcing partnership to create Ford’s online tutorial manual, MyFord Touch User Guide.  This free application, available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, revolutionized the automotive infotainment learning experience by being easily-available, user-friendly, interactive and intuitive. New training material could now be downloaded to a user’s mobile phone by a customer, providing them the opportunity for a more comfortable learning experience at their own pace.  Dealers around the world used this helpful training tool to more effectively communicate the advantages of the MyFord Touch system to their customers but did not require the customer to sit at the dealership for hours.

“We worked with Luxoft on interactive video tutorials, and they not only met our objectives but exceeded our expectation. Knowing this project would be the first of many, we selected Luxoft as our long-term development partner because of their native expertise as well as their superb track record of creating innovative software solutions. We are continuing our teamwork on future software development projects,” says Jim Buczkowski, Henry Ford Technical Fellow and Director of Electrical and Electronics Systems, Ford Research and Innovation.

During this time, Ford began to look at the automotive landscape and saw each car manufacturer had its own connectivity platform and approach to mobile applications. The battle for developers was one where they had to decide where to put their support and resources, as supporting them all is too expensive.

This is where open source development became important. Rather than developing a closed proprietary system, Ford created an open solution that can be used by everyone. Using their experience with MyFord Touch guide application, Luxoft would act as Ford’s primary development arm, taking the previously closed AppLink solution and making it an open source offering.

Tapping into its highly scalable resources, Ford was confident Luxoft could deliverand less than six months later, Ford and Luxoft announced the development of an open-source car connectivity technology, SmartDeviceLink, which combined the features of Ford’s AppLink™ software with Luxoft’s open-source iviLink, as well as invited connectivity solutions from other organizations to contribute code to the project.

“Luxoft has helped us enter the world of open source software and continues to educate and innovate with our team on the SmartDeviceLink solution. Together, we’re at the forefront of the industry, establishing Ford as a technical leader and innovative car company,” states Julius Marchwicki, Global Product Manager, Electrical and Electronic Systems – Connected Services, Ford Motor Company.

Successfully navigating a transatlantic partnership

Constant communication, flexibility, transparency and dedication to customer satisfaction are cornerstones to what is expected to be a long-term outsourcing partnership between Ford and Luxoft.

Calls and face-to-face meetings occur regularly.  Depending on the workload, twice a week, weekly and monthly calls ensure everyone involved understands the performance measurement criteria and progress made against project plans.  Time zone differences are not an issue due to the fact that the teams established multiple, open communication channels from the start.

Setting up a knowledge exchange program led to flexibility and transparency that has made a difference in the level of collaboration achieved. Ford managers keep Luxoft and Ford Product Developers abreast of any changes in the competitive environment, new business opportunities or impending threats.  This has helped drive and motivate the innovation process.  Using methodologies such as SCRUM, the agile software development environment that supports new software functionality to be delivered at standard intervals, helped avoid unexpected challenges.

Both parties are also committed to quality, making this strategic relationship a winner.  The task of improving product and service quality is Ford`s priority, and much of Luxoft’s success has resulted from building exceptional quality into mutual products.

Putting Ford at the forefront of automotive infotainment

This innovative partnership has been recognized across Ford Motor Company and the broader automotive industry. Paul Mascarenas, CTO and VP, Ford Research and Innovation, congratulated the team for quickly and efficiently developing the MyFordTouch Guide App now being downloaded by customers and dealers. Ecosystem partners accessing the open source alliance are adding value directly to the repository.

By partnering with Luxoft, Ford has extended the company’s innovation, sustainability and competitiveness.

And you may be experiencing the results firsthand—millions of Ford customers are benefiting from the technology that has resulted from this collaborative relationship.

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