Why ford brought back a former exec as as software, information chief

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Ford Motor Co. said Monday it hired a new software and chief information officer who will be tasked with generating new revenue streams and modernizing the company.

Vijay Sankaran, former CIO at trading company TD Ameritrade, begins Nov. 16 and will report to CEO Jim Farley. Sankaran was with Ford for 12 years until 2013, with his final role as Ford IT’s chief technology officer.

The company says Sankaran will “help create and deliver new reasons for customers to choose and stay with Ford.”

Ford said Sankaran, 47, led a digital revolution at TD Ameritrade that included the creation of “client-facing mobile applications, infusing capabilities enabled by artificial intelligence to deliver client personalization and self-service, and scaling its trading platform fivefold to accommodate the stock-trading boom spawned by the coronavirus pandemic.”

As vehicles become more technologically complex, software is becoming increasingly important for automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. has American robotics expert James Kuffner developing an operating system that can run the company’s cars and be licensed to other automakers. Volkswagen faced software-related problems launching the ID3 electric car and eighth-generation Golf.

Ford said Sankaran was also the architect of TD Ameritrade’s “software engineering approach that doubled software delivery throughput and built from scratch a digital innovation center in Ann Arbor, Mich.”

“Inventive companies use software, data and AI to reimagine and deliver highly differentiated product quality, operating efficiency and customer services,” Sankaran said in a statement. “Brand loyalty and growth are turbocharged in organizations that are rich with and driven by data.”

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Saurabh Shukla

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