While the plans will encompass a lot of work and coordination, Smither says the integrated products will offer more sophisticated tools for employees.
"Today's Generation Y coming out of school and entering the workforce have an expectation around connectivity all the time, always on, whether at home, traveling or in the office," he says. "There is a focus on more sophisticated tools in the collaboration space to enable the flexibility to work anywhere."
The road to the end-goal began in September with Ford's Exchange 2010 pilot. The company is a member of Microsoft's Rapid Deployment Program (RDP). Ford plans to have the bulk of its back-end Exchange production rollout peak in mid-year 2010. The infrastructure is being designed to handle Ford's load of 1.9 billion e-mails per year.
With that kind of volume, Smither says a major design goal is availability based on redundant data stores. On the client side, a major focus is on rolling out an improved Outlook Web Access (OWA) client.
OWA 2010 has a number of features that align with Ford's goal of anywhere access, including support for the Safari browser on Mac OS X and Firefox on Mac and Windows. Safari and Firefox will support the full OWA feature list including drag-and-drop, spell checking and notifications.
In addition, OWA 2010 will include integration with OCS, support a threaded conversation mode, and feature a new set of display options that reduce the number of browser refreshes needed to see additional e-mails.
Smither says OWA and other Exchange 2010 features speak to a younger, global and mobile workforce. He says the benefit to Ford is "more sophisticated tools for employees."