Information Technology (IT)
Volkswagen is working hard on strengthening its digital competencies with a view to shaping and safeguarding the Company’s future viability. To this end we are continuously upgrading our IT systems so that they are sustainable in the long term and we are progressively moving our systems and applications over to new cloud platforms. Our primary concern is further increasing the efficiency of the IT systems used throughout the Group and standardizing these as far as possible. We are also concentrating on building up our expertise and specialist IT knowledge, especially in key digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and the use of new IT technologies in products, services and business processes.
Volkswagen is embracing on digitalization, particularly at its in-house IT labs in Wolfsburg, Munich, Berlin, San Francisco and Barcelona. Group IT, research institutions and technology partners are working closely together at these innovation centers on future trends in information technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, quantum computing, digital ecosystems, intelligent human-robot collaboration and smart mobility. These labs act as test laboratories for the Group, as centers of expertise for these future trends and as liaison offices for start-ups. They enable us to work and experiment with new technologies outside the line organization. This allows the experience and strategic expertise of a large company like Volkswagen to be combined with the pragmatism and speed of young start-ups. Highly specialized experts at the IT labs in San Francisco and Munich, for example, are working on exploiting the potential of quantum computers for areas that have a commercial application. The focus here is on optimization of flows of traffic and simulation of materials and alloys. Initial experimental projects are also investigating opportunities for combining the potential of quantum computers with self-learning systems (quantum machine learning).
In IT test projects we are using artificial intelligence to develop so-called self-learning systems. These learn through intelligent data analysis and are, for example, designed to assist staff in recurring administrative work steps by preparing these activities independently and giving them to staff for a decision.
The growing convergence of different business areas and IT is also opening up opportunities. In production, for example, big data processes help us to analyze faulty machinery and take action at an early stage. Our experts from Production and Group IT are therefore working together on a digital platform that combines the systems and equipment in the factory into an integrated overall system. This will allow efficiency to be increased and digital pilot projects to be integrated into the existing architecture much more easily than before. Applied research in the field of intelligent human-robot collaboration and IT systems to control mobile assistive robotics and networked infrastructure (Industrial Internet of Things) are also important elements of the digitalization of production at the Volkswagen Group. Group IT is likewise contributing its expertise in the field of research and development in conjunction with the different departments. For instance, digitalized work tools such as the virtual concept vehicle make the product development process faster and more efficient.
In software development centers we develop cross-brand software for digital ecosystems and for new business processes in the Group. We thereby maintain in-house expertise in the rapid, demand-oriented development of software and IT solutions. This capability will become increasingly important as the Group’s digital transformation evolves.
The “IT for everyone” initiative aims to give all employees of Volkswagen AG access to digital media and work tools. The objective is to further improve communication and collaboration among production and administrative employees. An important issue in this connection is the growing volume of official work being performed on mobile devices. The Company’s internal network Group Connect promotes knowledge transfer and networking among all employees. The platform puts experts in touch with one another across brands and internationally. The introduction of the Group Connect application for personal mobile devices further simplifies access for employees of the direct units.
Safeguarding data and systems at the Volkswagen Group is another focus of our IT. To also protect our customers against cyber-attacks and ensure that our solutions are in conformity with national and international legislation, we continued setting up an integrated, cross-brand, cross-regional Information Security Management System (ISMS) as part of the Protected Customer program. The Group offers documents, templates and tools to all Group companies and brands in the form of an ISMS toolbox to help them implement their own ISMS. Key information security processes have been audited and certified within the international ISO 27001 framework. This is the most important standard for information security and extends beyond IT to also cover issues such as personal security, compliance, physical security and legal requirements. One of the aims of the program, which is set to run until 2021, is also to safeguard the complete life cycle of our vehicles and the digital mobility services.
In fiscal year 2018, another focus of IT was on the systematic implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was combined in a Group program and rolled out in all corporate functions. In the course of the sustainable implementation of the GDPR, the data protection processes and procedures in place in the brands will be consolidated and standardized. When new IT solutions are being developed, the requirements will be enforced from the outset. Transparency in the processing and minimization of data are key goals on which we will continue to work. To ensure sustainable observance of the GDPR, the Group program will be gradually transferred to a company-wide data protection management system as well as a data protection organization in 2019.
In 2015, Volkswagen AG co-founded Deutsche Cyber-Sicherheitsorganisation GmbH (DCSO). DCSO is accumulating specialist knowledge on cybersecurity and aims to become the preferred service provider to European businesses in this field. DCSO is a competence center and a managed security service provider for protecting companies against criminal hackers, industrial espionage, government attacks and sabotage.