Volkswagen + Microsoft = Internet technology for a comfortable ride
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Starting the development of electric vehicles and autonomous technologies, Volkswagen faced a serious problem: how to create an Internet-connected car that will allow drivers to freely access digital services on the go? Find the answer under the cut!

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For example, a driver might want to continue to listen to the music in the car that he was listening to at home, then switch to a conference call, and then check his online calendar. Getting access to all these services on the road can be problematic, since applications from different manufacturers usually do not interact very well with each other.

This problem is faced by all the automotive companies in the world, trying to create customizable Internet services for drivers that work not only in the car, but also in the rest of everyday life. To find a solution and gain knowledge on how to create their own mobile services, Volkswagen turned to Microsoft. The two companies are now jointly developing the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, a dedicated cloud platform that will provide the digital mobile services needed by the automaker.

“I believe that this partnership has become a model for the entire industry to combine efforts for a common cause and to unite the best that companies have,” said Heiko Hettel, head of the division for the production of Internet-connected Volkswagen Group vehicles.

Volkswagen is committed to transforming its business, making it the backbone of digital services in the Volkswagen Automotive cloud, which will be built from scratch on the basis of Microsoft Azure technology and the IoT Edge platform. Volkswagen cloud will use Microsoft cloud services, including Azure IoT, PowerBI and Skype, which will help create solutions for working with consumers, for telematics and to improve performance. By creating its own specialized cloud, Volkswagen will be able to provide consistent mobile services for all of its brands.

For its cloud, Volkswagen will register a new legal entity whose head office will be located in North America, next to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA. Microsoft will help with this by providing practical support, including engineering consulting resources, that are needed initially. The new entity will be managed by an executive board, which will include business and technology experts from both companies.

This initiative was born at a very important moment for Volkswagen, one of the world's largest automakers. According to Hettel, software and related services will be a key element for differentiating automakers in the future.

“It will not be enough just to create great cars, so the Volkswagen Group - and especially the main Volkswagen brand offering passenger cars - is actively investing in technology autonomy and electric cars,” says Hettel. - Moreover, Volkswagen accelerates the development of its ecosystem, using its own know-how and the best development of external partners. According to our forecasts, the automotive industry will become the center of the Internet of Things, offering consumers to transfer their world to their car. ”

Volkswagen Automotive Cloud

cloud building scheme The Volkswagen Automotive Cloud cloud will be an integral part of this work, and Microsoft's help will play a key role in the transition to a business model based on computer programs and services. In addition to the technical areas of work, the new division will have areas of work focused exclusively on the company's culture and transition to a new model, and Hettel says that Volkswagen is enthusiastically adopting the development experience acquired by Microsoft under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella.

Hettel noted these changes three years ago when he visited Microsoft, working for another automaker. On the Hettel company campus, I read advertisements on a digital display, such as training schedule for employees, and I was shocked by the atmosphere there.

“It was not the company I had seen several years earlier,” he says. “It was then that I understood the true meaning of transformation and changed my attitude towards how transformation in a big company should go. My whole world, all my little black and white picture broke, and I thought: if such a big company like Microsoft can change, then why can't the automotive industry? Why don't we learn what I saw here? ”

As Hettel says, as Volkswagen progressed toward its goal of creating a digital platform for integrating connected cars, the cloud and services, the company recognized the need for a more flexible approach and the use of a single digital platform. In recent months, Volkswagen has updated its digital strategy by integrating some operations and buying several software companies. But to become a consumer-oriented company with an ecosystem for connecting cars to the cloud, Volkswagen decided to work with Microsoft.

“We concluded that we need revolutionary changes,” says Hettel. “We want to use what we can take from Microsoft culture and technology.” We want to become “Microsoft automotive industry”, in the sense that we are recognized as a company that has made a digital transformation, and attributed to digital players on the world market. ”

Dee Templeton, Microsoft Senior Partner Product Manager, says the company will work hand in hand with Volkswagen on this transformation. Considering that the Volkswagen Group unites 12 brands (the largest of them is Volkswagen) and 640 thousand employees worldwide, this will be a difficult undertaking.

“We will share our knowledge gained in the transformation process under the guidance of Satya,” says Templeton. “We want to help Volkswagen meet bold ambitions for its future, and what we can offer is quite unique.” We will show how Microsoft has changed its own culture and how we have achieved a comprehensive transformation. It's not just software. Our experience, our legacy, involving several decades of program development from scratch, is another reason why partnerships with Microsoft are so important to them.

It will be a deep and multifaceted partnership, in which we will develop software that uses the best cloud capabilities and, most importantly, promotes the culture of a “unified team” necessary to achieve the goals. ”

Templeton says the new organization will help Volkswagen become a software-based company that can connect directly with customers and offer services in several ways - from directly downloading software updates to cars to allowing drivers to purchase services from cars or through mobile apps.

“Without connecting cars to the cloud, this cannot be achieved or is very difficult,” says Templeton. “In the past, such a thing was impossible.”

Hettel sees in this initiative more than just a cloud.

“I call it an integrating ecosystem,” he says. - Our approach is to be with you where you are when traveling, driving a car or driving as a passenger. That’s what we want, and this is what we want to create with Microsoft. ”

Images courtesy of Volkswagen.

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