Q&A: Under the Hood with Ford
Ford Motor Company was among the first in the industry to offer connected car services through the driver’s cell phone. This year, all new models released by Ford in North America have a built-in modem for connectivity, with European cars to follow in 2016. For more on the key considerations raised by connected cars, CSC World recently spoke with Roopak Verma, Ford’s CIO for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
How is Ford helping to secure the connected car? How can OEMs work together to address this threat?
Recent security demonstrations [see sidebar, page 10] have really prompted all of the OEMs to take a hard look at vehicle security. We have the capability today to remotely unlock a vehicle, and if someone can hack into it, that’s the first thing he or she will do. If someone can control the functionality of the vehicle remotely, that’s dangerous.
A Fusion Hybrid, for example, is generating 25 gigabytes of data per hour. A hacker would love to get access to the functionality of the car, your location data, your contact data, even your credit card data. At Ford, we realize you have to have the fundamental security architecture built into the vehicle. The architecture that controls the vehicle functionality needs to be isolated from the connected vehicle architecture, and you need encryption between every component.
Everybody’s facing a common challenge. A lot of the safety features we expect are going to require vehicles to talk to each other, so if a Ford car is not talking to a GM car, it’s not going to know the car is stopped ahead just around a blind curve. That type of connectivity is going to require us to work together on the protocols and the security architecture.
What role is data analytics playing at Ford in supporting automotive sales, production and services?
Data analytics and intelligence can give us a single, integrated view of people who are researching a car on the Web, linking them with the people who may come in and visit the dealer, and linking them with the people who might actually buy a car and then come back to Ford for the servicing. It can help us change the whole marketing paradigm.
It’s also going to help us make a connection with the customer to design the next-generation car. We won’t need hundreds of hours of research to find out where the next trends in car designs are going. We’ll be talking to our customers.
Organizations are under constant pressure to step up their rate of innovation. How are you nurturing innovation at Ford?
One of the things we’ve been doing in Europe is looking for a way to really democratize innovation. What we used to always see is that you could come up with a great idea, it worked well, but there was always a challenge in the implementation and getting the business value out of it.
So we started the Ford Innovation Challenge. The idea is that anybody in Ford with an innovative idea can put it forward. We opened it for 2 weeks and we had 415 ideas.
We had a semifinal event to select the top 12 ideas, and now the business owns these ideas, and we are going to provide them time, funding and resources to take them forward. Then we’ll come back in January and see who has been able to make enough progress so that they can become part of our business plan. It’s exciting.