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Ford hires new director to head up its consumer behaviour research and make the most of its investment in data science - which is set to increase

Paul Ballew, who moves from business intelligence firm Dun and Bradstreet, has been hired as part of Ford’s mobility, connectivity and driverless car strategy that “will improve people’s lives”, the carmaker claimed yesterday evening.

Ballew will begin in January, while Ford's UK division will begin exploring the feasibility of driverless cars on UK roads in Milton Keynes and Coventry as part of a £19 million, government-backed initiative.

Ballew will lead the global data and analytics projects, which the carmaker said will include merging all of its research, analytics, processes, standards, tools and partner engagement.

“We are committed to making people’s lives better through innovations on mobility, connectivity, autonomous vehicles, performance and the customer experience,” said Ford president and CEO Mark Fields.

“Taking big data and analytics to the next level inside Ford connects all of this work and is a key part of our drive for innovation in every part of our business.”

Prior to his role at Dun and Bradstreet, Ballew had 20 years’ experience in analysing consumer behaviour in companies like General Motors and National Insurance.

Chief financial officer Bob Shanks, to whom Ballew will report, said: “He will turn what has been a secret weapon for us into a company-wide endeavour, driving growth in all parts of our business.”

Ford said that it will also be increasing spending on data to better understand customers as part of its "One Ford Plan" which aims to bring Ford's global divisions together to cut costs and produce cars in a more profitable way. 

Ford’s supply and logistics division spoke about its year-long data cleansing project before moving legacy systems to SAP during SAPPHIRE this year. It migrated to SAP’s ERP and CRM to consolidate data across its global departments.

Ford began operating an open-source platform in 2013. This followed the decision to offer its Sync AppLink to external partners, which could include manufacturing rivals, at no charge. It believes that enriching the developer community by opening up its APIs will benefit the firm in the future as outsiders create innovative apps for driving. 

Image credit ©Ford