IBM has won a multimillion pound deal with Ford, which will involve executives from both companies working together on application development and project management for the car giant.
The exact value of the deal has not been disclosed, but it will run for five years and includes the creation of two purpose designed Acceleration Solutions Centres (ASCs) where the executives will work, in Essex and Cologne, Germany.
This is in addition to a centre already set up in the US, following a similar deal between IBM and Ford which was signed in January this year.
Currently both centres in Europe are in set-up mode with around 20 staff, but when fully operational by late next year, each centre will have around 120 staff. Half the staff in each will be from IBM and half from Ford.
IBM executives said the new centres should be able to run around 16 development projects concurrently in each location, which will lead to around 100 new applications a year across Europe.
Trevor Goodman, IBM European project executive for Ford ASC solution centre, said the first project - a database of all used vehicles in dealerships across Germany - had already been completed in the Cologne centre.
"It isn't outsourcing, as we aren't taking over the employment of Ford employees. We're effectively setting up a software house that is jointly run by Ford and IBM. It's quite an unusual, interesting approach," he said.
"It combines the expertise Ford has with IBM's. Under external management, it enables us to develop outside of each company's internal politics," he added.
He said the deal followed a similar one in the US, where IBM was in competition with companies such as EDS and Anderson Consulting. The US project began in January and Ford decided to roll it out throughout Europe.
"This is very much an initial pilot project in Europe," said Goodman. "We may roll it out across other regions."
He added: "We have had a lot of enquiries about this type of engagement from organisations in industries other than automotive, such as banking and insurance. It's a model IBM could do quite well with."
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