- Ford has picked Google Cloud Platform as its preferred cloud provider as part of a new deal between the two companies, Ford and Google announced Monday. No financial details from the deal were immediately disclosed.
- Throughout the six-year deal, the carmaker will rely on the data, AI and ML capabilities on Google Cloud Platform, according to a release. Starting in 2023, Ford plans to deploy Android and Google apps and services in "millions" of Lincoln and Ford vehicles.
- Ford plans to employ Google's cloud capabilities to "fast track the implementation of data-driven business models," turning to the platform to push out real-time maintenance requests to customers or offer trade-in alerts.
In the cloud vendor market, Google had previously made inroads into the automotive sector.
In 2020, the public cloud provider struck a deal to help French automaker Renault optimize its in-house industrial data management platform. Having a banner customer to display helped show Google as a provider with business processes and capabilities that fit the needs of the industry, said Brian Jackson, research director at Info-Tech Research Group.
"Ford doesn't want to be hand-holding Google through their way of working and the things that the auto industry is trying to achieve," said Jackson. "Having that flagship customer in Renault definitely would have lent a lot of confidence in making this decision."
In Ford's strategy to expand beyond car manufacturing, technology is central. So, too, is the role cloud can play.
In selecting a cloud provider, Ford came to Google after evaluating three critical aspects, Jackson said:
- Cost optimization: Identifying how much will it cost to run the workloads Ford needs and how will the platform performs for the objectives the company has in mind.
- Data sovereignty: Ford needed a platform that can operate globally, with sufficient instances to serve the workloads efficiently.
- End-to-end encryption: From a security perspective, identifying if the platform provides data encryption to secure data while it's in use.
The AI component Google Cloud is able to bring to the table will help Ford's transformation process, said Jackson. For example, it will lead to integrating machine learning into existing business processes and optimizing manufacturing facilities for cost and performance, he said.
Ford will need to transform the way it approaches the market, Jackson said. "Of course, that will require new digital processes."
Alongside the transformation of its business strategy, Ford also shook up its leadership late last October, elevating Ford COO Jim Farley to the CEO role. Ford CIO Jeff Lemmer retired on Jan. 1, and though the company announced in November it had named Vijay Sankaran as his replacement, Sankaran later declined to accept the role.
Ford has not yet filled the CIO role, the company said in an email. Sakis Kitsopanidis, was named interim Technology and Software platform leader, following the retirement of Lemmer.