Category: Business Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
WARREN, Michigan (Reuters) - General Motors Co said it is investing $546 million in two new Michigan data centers in hopes it will free up millions of dollars to boost vehicle quality more quickly.
The largest U.S. automaker unveiled a $288 million data center in the Detroit suburb of Warren on Monday, which went online in January. Construction of a $258 million companion center at the GM vehicle proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, will begin this summer.
GM officials said the centers will help engineers to spot and solve problems more quickly than when it outsourced about 90 percent of its information technology (IT) needs.
"We had five, six key suppliers of IT services and each one of them had their own little control center, and we couldn't see any of what was going on in our network," Chief Executive Dan Akerson told reporters at a media event in Warren.
"Today we can look into our plants, our production, where supply chain is a problem or an asset," said Akerson.
In the next five years, GM aims to bring 90 percent of its IT work within the company. The two new data centers will get new vehicle designs and technologies to consumers faster and boost the company's bottom line, the company said.
By 2015, when the Milford center is scheduled to be operational, GM will have reduced its IT facilities to two from 23, company officials said.
A number of GM's competitors outsource about one-third of their IT functions, GM Chief Information Officer Randy Mott said.
"When we started this journey, we were the most outsourced," Mott said. "I think we'll end on the side of being the least outsourced ... We're coming down kind of full swing back."
The Milford center will be about 40 miles from the Warren facility and each will be able to serve as a backup if the other goes down with technical problems, GM said.
The value of the IT equipment for each of the centers is expected to be about $158 million.
GM said it has outsourced the bulk of its computing and IT functions in recent years, which was more costly and not as effective as the two data centers. Akerson said the company was spending between $1 billion and $2.5 billion on "shadow IT" services to back up its suppliers.
GM officials said employees around the world will be able to get access to the super-computing abilities of the two data centers.
It will also cut costs on crash tests, it said. Simulations by computer will generate data that will help in designing safer vehicles and save $350,000 for each crash test avoided, GM said.
Suppliers making tooling for GM vehicles in development will be paid quicker and allow them to prioritize deliver of critical parts, which may reduce engineering expenses by millions of dollars, GM said.
GM was able to get a return of 20 times its IT investment for one particular project to improve its global warranty process and speed up how fast it spots and fixes problems, said Tim Cox, chief information officer of GM's development services.
The data centers will allow engineers to do many of these kind of projects, Cox said.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 08:08
Category: Business - Original Written by Lisa Wilmore, NBPRS
Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 01:57
Category: Men Of Excellence Written by Amber Bogins
Check out our astounding fifty Men of Excellence who are changing the landscape of Metro Detroit and making this region a stronger, better place.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 10:17
Category: Business - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
-- RLJ Entertainment Launching Channels Under the "Acorn TV" and Urban-Focused "OnCue" brands --
Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) and The RLJ Companies, today announced the launch of two paid channels on YouTube under the "Acorn TV" and "OnCue" brands. RLJ Entertainment is a leading creator, owner and distributor of media content across digital, broadcast and physical platforms, which leverages its branding expertise, access to content and direct to consumer skills to optimize the value of its programs for distinct audiences. RLJ Entertainment was formed in October 2012 through the business combination of RLJ Acquisition, Inc., Image Entertainment, Inc. and Acorn Media Group, Inc.
As with RLJ Entertainment's existing Acorn TV digital channel, the YouTube version (www.youtube.com/AcornTV) will provide viewers with access to the best of British TV with a variety of unique, specially-curated content for consumers who have interest in high quality British TV programs. Content will include the ever popular pastoral mystery Midsomer Murders, Iain Glen (Game of Thrones) starring in the new series Jack Taylor, engaging comedy drama Honest with Amanda Redman, David Suchet (Poirot) in the fantasy series Going Postal, the Royal Shakespeare Company's master acting class starring Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, and Ben Kingsley in Playing Shakespeare, and many others.
OnCueNetwork is RLJ Entertainment's newest digital channel, offering selected urban themed programming, to include original content, that features some of today's most recognized African American and minority talent. OnCueNetwork (www.youtube.com/oncuenetwork) will provide viewers with an alternative to conventional subscription-based channels by showcasing the best digital films and series, in action, drama, romantic comedies, as well as stand-up comedy, documentaries, music and stage plays. Among the programming features will be: 35 & Ticking starring Kevin Hart and Meagan Good, All Things Fall Apart, starring 50 Cent and Lynn Whitfield, The Last Fall featuring Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, and Vanessa Bell Calloway, and I Ain't Scared of You (stand-up/documentary), featuring the late comedian Bernie Mac.
"We are pleased with today's launch of these two new subscription-based channels, Acorn and OnCue, that will offer exciting British and urban entertainment across this innovative platform," said Robert L. Johnson, Chairman of RLJ Entertainment. "This announcement marks the beginning of RLJE's goal to become a major player in producing targeted digital entertainment to audiences that are underserved by existing outlets. We believe the subscription model presents not only an opportunity to develop original programming but also create further shareholder value," he concluded.
Miguel Penella, RLJ Entertainment Chief Executive Officer commented on the partnership, "We are thrilled to be in an alliance with Google to bring our unique programming to the over one billion unique users that visit YouTube each month. As the demand for our targeted content continues to grow and we build a following among passionate audiences, YouTube offers a way to diversify the manner in which the content is consumed and another new revenue stream for our business."
RLJ Entertainment is focused on driving growth through the development of interest-based lifestyle entertainment services for targeted audiences in niche genres including British drama and mystery, stand-up comedy, fitness, faith and urban by using new technologies to deliver that content to consumers.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 May 2013 20:47
Category: Business - Original Written by Michigan Chronicle
Many would concur that Detroit has had more than its share of obstacles, setbacks and defeats. And for those that are able to look beyond the current status quo, there‘s a glimmer of hope that resonates “you can’t keep a good city down.”
There are good things happening in Detroit, and good people that stand behind a quality product that’s manufactured in the city, all while creating leadership and employment opportunities for its residents.
It takes vision and some “skin in the game” to rebuild, reemerge and reconnect a business to its rightful community. Meet Robert Evangelista, the president of the New Co/Op Optical and WCE LLC, which now owns and operates the eight Co/Op Optical retail locations. On October 12, 2012, WCE LLC acquired all assets from Cooperative Optical Services, Inc, in U.S bankruptcy court.
Within a six-month time frame, the New Co/Op Optical has gained momentum. Its sales have increased by 39 percent; the owner has hired from a talent pool of seasoned optometrists and opticians; company moral has increased — and as a commitment to the 50 men and women that endured the storm with the former company — a promise was made (and kept) by Evangelista to keep the original staff on board and at their original rate of pay — with extensive training and repositioning.
For over a half century, the former company serviced customers for vision health and eyewear at Co/Op Optical locations across the state. But during the 2000s, the company’s financial position began to suffer as a result of questionable moves and internal turmoil. The “Michigan depression” was the final storm that sealed the company’s fate. Recognizing the potential impact on customers in late 2011, the company’s leadership transferred its administrative component of insurance benefits to Davis Vision, an American-based company that shared both values and union roots. This move ensured that regardless of the outcome, the 140,000 members with Co/Op insurance benefits would never be impacted.
The economic collapse could have meant the end of Co/Op Optical stores. However, in a response to adversity, the employees and leadership refused to quit. Like the auto companies that went down a similar path, they were in need of a creative solution, a little compassion and a whole lot of luck.
“Someone has to believe that Detroit still builds the best,” said Evangelista, internationally renowned business consultant. “I was told by many that I should run from the Co-Op deal, that I was crazy for taking the financial risk. Perhaps I was a little crazy in this economy to take a risk. But I saw the bigger picture and a group of people with a spirit that lifted me up. That bigger picture is to rebuild and restore a sense of great customer service, and provide top-of-the-line products in the city of Detroit.”
As with any success stor, it’s typically accomplished by a team of professionals who are forward thinking, resilient and able to manage multiple moving parts. At the New Co-Op Optical, its leadership team is emerging with leading women in the marketplace. The team includes Evangelista’s wife, Susan, who is CFO; Miquel Smith-Coleman, director of Customer Experience; Dr. LaKeisha Parker and Nina Scott, store managers at the 8 Mile/Dequindre location; Tracy Woodward-Hannah, store manager at the Eastpointe location; Sharon Phillips, store manager at the Livonia location; Kelcey Smothers, store manager for the Dearborn location; and Dr. Jennifer Claudio, CMM, Professional Affairs, WCE, LLC.
Each member of the leadership team has been given full reign to plan and execute operational and marketing strategies that best serve their target audience. There’s also the personal touch as each manager knows her customers. For many of the women, who are primarily African American, the leadership roles afford them the opportunity to emerge as stakeholders in the community.
The New Co/Op Optical has underscored a long commitment to the Detroit and African American community. The company is headquartered in Detroit and operates the largest eyeglass manufacturing lab in the city. Their intent is to bring respect and dignity to each customer interaction, beginning with providing the lowest prices on designer brand frames from current 2013 collections.
“People in the community want gorgeous, designer brand frames at affordable prices,” said Smith-Coleman, “and they know the difference between current styles and out-of-date models.”
Smith-Coleman has been in the optics arena for 17 years, and is part of a group recruited from the former D.O.C.
“I may oversee it, but all of us are involved in setting the tone of the store for each customer experience,” she said. “Our whole team is involved in every phase, from the frame selection, to the layout of the store, display merchandising, training and customer service, all to ensure a completely satisfying customer experience.”
Each of the eight Co-Op Optical locations have been stocked with over 1,000 new frames from 2013 collections, including Gucci, Versace, Coach, Polo, Harley Davidson, Guess, Ralph Lauren, Helium, DKNY, Candies, Giorgio Armani, and many more. And the prices are the lowest in Southeast Michigan, and no coupons are needed. All eyeglasses are manufactured in the Detroit lab at 8 Mile in Dequindre, thus heightening visibility as the fasting growing eye lab in the city.
One of Smith-Coleman’s key initiatives includes creating awareness on the importance of an annual eye exam and protecting the health of customer’s eyes.
“Our customers are very brand savvy, but not savvy about vision health. Therefore, it’s imperative that along with helping to select designer frames, we also educate on eye health and optical/preventive health care.”
For more information on the New Co-Op Optical, please visit, http://coopoptical.com.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 21:29
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