The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Technology is Disposable!

Karthik Sundaram
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Karthik Sundaram
WHEN HEWLETT-PACKARD INTRODUCED THE Compaq tablet-PCs, we took up 10 pieces to experiment with. The IT team held on to only three, while the rest of the seven were given away to other departments. This is how IT at General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) works—by collaboration. Typically, the IT team in another company would have held on to all the 10 samples, till it feels that it has perfected the technology, by which time the other departments would have moved on. But the team here works in synch with the other departments—delivering solutions that are perfected by the users themselves.” says Niraj Patel, executive vice president and CIO of General Motors’ mortgage division, GMAC Commercial Mortgage (GMACCM).

Since General Motors created GMAC as a separate business unit in November 1995, the company has grown from a 54-person U.S. operation to a 2,400-person global enterprise that services a commercial real-estate portfolio worth more than $125 billion. Patel took over the CIO position of this startup in 1996 and hasn't looked back. In his present role as CIO, Patel oversees a staff of more than 200 and guides the corporation’s worldwide activities in application development, infrastructure, telecommunications, and business unit support.

Among Patel’s many accomplishments are developing the first investor reporting Web site in the commercial mortgage industry, Investor Query (IQ), and serving as a founding member in charge of technology for MortgageRamp.com, the revolutionary online solution for financing commercial real estate loans via the Web. Mortgage approvals on commercial properties can take 90 to 120 days, hardly the zippy process one encounters in the residential market. In January 2000, GMACCM created an on-line subsidiary, MortgageRamp, to change all that. The company even handled the start-up in a vastly new way. First, they decided it would go live in 90 days —less time than it takes to process the average commercial mortgage. It then assigned three people to build the entire company, including the technology. And to turn the heat on even higher, the company took out full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal announcing the date MortgageRamp would launch.

Patel went scounting for help. “Only Microsoft, Compaq, Cisco and Intel were willing to step up to the plate,” recalls Patel. “We started building the company in January, and then we launched the MortgageRamp site at the end of March,” says the CIO. “That’s right, just three of us built an entire company —not just the technology—in three months.”

Other worldwide breakthrough accomplishments include implementing the first Frame Relay Wide Area Network (WAN), the first production 1000 Gigabyte network, the first 100 Megabyte Ethernet, and the first production version of Windows ‘95. Most recently, Patel has been instrumental in expanding the international presence of GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, providing leadership for the cutting edge technological infrastructure needed for branch offices in Ireland, Japan, France and Canada.

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