Innovation Driven by People with Excellent Ideas

Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG
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Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG

We are today living in the era of being connected 24/7. What used to be a luxury earlier has today become a highly important necessity. In the automobile industry, the idea of “connected car” technology is gaining significance as drivers want to stay connected and be able to access their e-mail, music and the internet at any time, from anywhere. We at Audi AG have started working on offering this kind of feature with our Audi connect services. Apart from this, the issue of IT security -particularly personal data protection is also likely to bring in new technologies that will change the future market.

Driving Technological Innovations

Primarily, innovation is driven not just by technology but by people with excellent ideas. We at Audi have a tradition of organizing innovation days multiple times a year where IT employees meet, discuss and work out concrete ideas and plan implementation of ideas. We also hold regular  discussion on our research projects with executive team to identify the best ideas.

My team maintains a close association with the R&D team and also works in tandem with team from Electrics/Electronics Development. This close proximity to one another, fast and unbureaucratic decisions enable us to promote a climate of innovation. Besides, we have a very strong ideas management program which helps us to identify and implement ideas. In 2012 itself, we gathered ideas worth more than 71 million Euros.

Challenges as CIO

In general, the biggest issues that CIOs face today are innovation, IT security and integration. We have to constantly look to find the right balance between implementing innovations and stable standard systems while defining the right fields of action for innovative solutions.

IT security is another major challenge for us. As information is the most valuable resources, it must be protected at all times. In an enabling cloud computing environment with mobility and global data access, there are plenty of the risks involved which require stringent, well thought out and manageable solution. We need to think of protecting the innovative strength of the company in the long run. Ultimately, another important task of my function as CIO is integrating different established market standards for a product that is best in class in terms of usability without losing security standards or functionality.

Our company has achieved tremendous growth over the past years. To continue our success story, we need to work closely with our business partners in different countries across cultures and form international teams. For instance, one of the major challenges we face in our R&D center in China and our new plant in Mexico is finding a common understanding of quality objectives, timeline and the right processes. The IT crowd is very focused on technology. So, we have to make sure our teams use it to bridge cultural differences and to drive our culture of innovation forward.

Most favorite Car

The new Audi S8 is my most favorite and I enjoy driving this car as it has the latest technology equipped with Audi connect services which makes driving fun. Audi S8 enables passengers to go online during the journey. Audi’s new models are always on, and the latest services can be automatically installed, and drivers do not have to worry about this anymore.

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