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Goodyear Races Down Road to Digital Transformation

For Goodyear, one of the world's largest tire companies, "digital dexterity" is where the rubber hits the road in the company's efforts to modernize its workforce and be a driver in what it calls the new mobile ecosystem.

Because, as Sherry Neubert, CIO, shared Monday during a fireside chat at Microsoft Ignite, Goodyear is much, much more than just a tire company. "We employ thousands of engineers, data scientists, computer scientists, and technical professionals, and we have always delivered innovative solutions that keep the world moving forward," she said.

Never before has this advancement been more important, with disruptors such as shifting consumer behaviors and expectations and technology breakthroughs accelerating change at unprecedented speeds, Neubert said. The result is a new mobile ecosystem, shaped by something Goodyear calls "FACE" -- for Fleets, Autonomous, Connected, and Electric vehicles -- and the company's innovation focus in two areas of connection: 1) tires, and the connection to the road, and 2) the connection to the car and the user.

"Harnessing the power of our associates is key to competing and continuing to lead in this new global world," Neubert said.

Sherry Neubert, CIO, Goodyear, and Ron Markezich, Microsoft CVP, chatting at Microsoft Ignite

But four years ago, Goodyear wasn't in the position to do any such thing. And so, recognizing that it needed productivity tools that would allow it to bring its diverse knowledge and capabilities together, Goodyear embarked on a workplace modernization initiative. It began adopting Microsoft Office 365 in 2014 and has since been outfitting its 65,000 associates around the world with Microsoft productivity and security tools. And, Neubert proudly noted, it's halfway through a global deployment of Windows 10 -- an undertaking that takes some time for a company of Goodyear's scale. Goodyear operates in more than 150 countries, and has 48 manufacturing facilities around the world; R&D centers in the U.S., China, Luxembourg, and Germany; and innovation labs in Silicon Valley.

Neubert took on the CIO role in 2015, with three goals in mind: "alignment, then enablement, then balance." She explained:

  • Alignment -- "My mission is for IT to be the trusted technology advisor. I'm a big believer in the power of digital tools to transform businesses and to help with growth, but I know that in order to succeed in the digital world that IT and the business must be attached at the hip."
  • Enablement -- This is where the concept of digital dexterity, which Goodyear defines as "an organization's ability and desire to empower and inspire associates to use existing and emerging technology and concepts for business outcomes," comes into play. Goodyear, like others, must lead with digital innovation if it's to remain competitive in a rapidly digitizing world. "So as IT we must provide tools that enable everybody in the company to keep Goodyear's customer at the center of everything we do," Neubert said.

    "Enabling means we need to have the capability to deliver" -- and that's why Goodyear has its digital dexterity initiative, she said. "The objective is to increase the digital acumen of all of our associates -- that's our entire workforce, worldwide, not just IT.

    "You see, if we're able to bring every associate's digital acumen up, we increase the likelihood that we'll have people who are delivering positive business outcomes using technology, creating customer solutions using technology, and people who are more likely to embed technology in their business process."

  • Balance -- This relates to productivity and security: "We ... know there's a continuum between productivity and security, and it's something that we're always looking at in IT," Neubert said. "We must enhance collaboration, we must drive productivity, and it has to be faster. But at the same time, we must keep our information and our systems secure and compliant so we can help protect our customers, our associates, and the company."

With adoption of Office 365 apps such as OneDrive, Outlook, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Yammer, Goodyear is seeing enhanced collaboration among its multigenerational, multicultural workforce, Neubert said. "We're seeing that they're now sharing perspectives and ideas more quickly and easier than ever, ... and we find our associates are able to take better advantage of cross-functional, globally dispersed teams."

In deploying Microsoft 365 -- which combines Office 365, Windows 10, and enterprise mobility + security -- Goodyear has seen improvements in productivity, too, as associates are able to access content from any device, anywhere, and at any time. And that translates into Goodyear's ability to innovate at a greater speed, with ease of mind that it's safeguarding its people and devices through Windows 10 and Microsoft 365, Neubert said. For example, the company is using multifactor authentication globally; has implemented Intune mobile device management, which allows it to implement policies and prevent against data loss; and uses Advanced Threat Protection and Safe Links in Outlook to neutralize danger before it can enter its systems.

Going forward, Neubert said she has a few ideas in mind to further advance Goodyear's digital posture. Using Microsoft HoloLens for virtual tire modeling and design in mixed reality environments has potential, as does infusing artificial intelligence capabilities in Microsoft 365 via the Cortana digital assistant and Azure chatbots. In addition, the company will keep pushing forward with an IoT proof of concept it's running to determine whether sensor data from the factory floor can provide insight for predictive maintenance.

But the next big initiative will be the enterprise adoption of Microsoft Teams, Neubert said.

Planning is underway, and Neubert said she expects both the effort and the outcome to be on par with the Office 365 deployment. That's to say, she said she has high expectations that the team collaboration application will become the "go-to social and collaboration platform," or teamwork hub, for associates.

"And we know that these are the kinds of tools that will help Goodyear maintain its leadership position in the new mobility ecosystem," Neubert said -- and keep IT in that oh-so-critical role of trusted advisor as the company continues pursuing its digital ambitions.

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