BMW outlines digitisation challenges for a connected future

BMW highlighted the "dramatic" changes it will need to make in the coming 10 years if it is to maintain its position in a car industry that is undergoing considerable upheaval through the arrival of electric vehicles, in-car connectivity and driverless cars.

Speaking during a keynote session at TM Forum Live this week, BMW CIO Klaus Straub said the goal to become fully digitised is "driving us forward", and will see the Germany-based car manufacturer take on new challenges such as establishing more direct relationships with customers.

"We need a 360-degree view of the customer," he said, noting that connectivity services within cars are enabling carmakers to form the kinds of relationships with customers that were previously managed by dealers and retailers.

Straub said the company has already made statements in electro-mobility with the i3 and i8 models as part of the BMW i project for sustainable mobility. He added that the hype around autonomous driving -- which he said is changing the whole mobility environment -- will also continue over the next two to three years.

Looking ahead, Straub said BMW will be a technology company as well as an auto maker in future, with mechanical engineers retrained as software engineers in order to manage the growing IT requirements of connected cars.

As part as the company's digitisation strategy, Straub said it will focus on five key areas: big data and analytics; cloud; IT security, which is especially important for autonomous driving; computer performance; and mobile devices in cars.

He added that more than 3 million BMW cars currently have a SIM card, with the number set to rise to 20 million by the end of the decade.

Straub concluded that digitisation will drive autonomous cars, connectivity and communications within cars, with an increased focus on customers as well as the adoption of Industry 4.0 principles to underpin the automation of production processes.

"Digitisation at the end of the day is speed, speed, speed," he said.

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