Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Business of IT leads off annual UMTRI
auto research series

U-M’s third annual “Focus on the Future” automotive research conference series kicks off next Wednesday with “The Business of IT: Transforming the Organization and the Vehicle.”

The conference, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Michigan League’s Michigan Ballroom, will focus on how the weakened economy is affecting long-term information technology efforts of automotive companies.

“As companies continue their transition from 20th- to 21st-century technologies and processes, our speakers will provide insight into what still needs to be accomplished in their home countries and also in their wide-ranging global operations,” says Bruce Belzowski, assistant research scientist at the U-M Transportation Research Institute.

“Conference speakers will describe the impact IT is having inside the vehicle in the areas of infotainment, vehicle-to-vehicle safety applications and autonomous vehicles. Inside the company and inside the vehicle, the future of the role of IT will be the focus of our discussion.”

Belzowski will introduce key issues and moderate the conference. Speakers include:

• Raghu Padmanabhan, director of process engineering at General Motors Co., will discuss GM’s progress in providing functional support for all of the company’s global entities and his work on GM’s global product lifecycle management process. 

• Deborah deBoer Henderson, chief information officer at ArvinMeritor Corp., will address her company’s approach to IT management and some of their current initiatives. 

• Robert Cole, professor emeritus at the Hass School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, will talk about his research comparing U.S. and Japanese companies’ use of enterprise applications.

• Tom Schaffnit, president of VII Consortium, will discuss collaborative efforts among nine automotive manufacturers that focus on the deployment of wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications for crash avoidance safety.

• T.J. Giuli, research engineer at Ford Motor Co., will provide insight into the future of in-vehicle infotainment, using his experience with Ford’s Infotronics Research & Advanced Engineering team and Ford’s American Journey 2.0 in-car connectivity project with U-M students.

• Ryan Eustice, U-M assistant professor of engineering, will talk about his research on autonomous vehicles, especially on how robots can autonomously navigate and map their environment, recognizing previously visited places much as a human would.

To register, or for more information, contact Rachael Hamilton at 734-763-3582 or, or go to