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Volkswagen undergoes culture shift to match its new open source approach

Tamlin Magee | Oct. 18, 2017
Volkwagen's IT department head Carsten Schade gives an update on the company's digital transformation progress.

At the same time, organisational change is underway throughout the company, including top-tier management. The whole IT group, Schade says, has adjusted to be more devops friendly - and IT is becoming more integrated with the rest of the business processes, a trend that will only continue.

"We have different roles, and new roles for most people, which is a huge change organisationally for us," he explains.

"We are just in the middle of this story so it's not so easy - you have to find the right way to do things. We have thousands of people and for sure there are some who are eager and very keen to do new things, on the other hand you have legal restrictions and all kinds of stuff which is not so easy to handle and bring it in in a win-win situation, so it's a challenge for the next couple of months I think."

Although financial savings are expected, Schade says Volkswagen is in the "experimental" phase and is currently measuring benefits in its speed of development, the IT side's "main focus" right now. Open source is fundamental to this.

"[Open source] is a way forward for us because we think open source products bring the most innovation," he says. "One of the things why we are here and are gold members and have a booth is the idea of bringing all these skills together and having a platform which is not business critical to everyone but helps everyone to put business critical things on it, and that is something which is understood in the IT world really well."

"I think we are in a good process to bring this mindshift we have in IT to other departments, which we do have to partner with, in getting open source to success."

"We are trying to go into the open source world and we want to bring our influence there too because we have a lot of developers and people with good ideas - they have the quality to bring and those things so let's do them in the next steps."

Volkswagen is also about to set up a new project over the next couple of months to uproot its legacy infrastructure and applications.

All this underpins what the company will ultimately plan to deliver to the consumer. In a year's time you can expect more apps and cooperation with smart cities to build intelligent parking systems and more.

"On the other hand we are working on projects from the IoT side, for sure," Schade says. "We have millions of cars around the world and there will be more - we build 10 million cars every year and each one of them is a kind of device. So it's necessary for us to use as much data as possible to bring more comfort to our customers, and even to build applications for people who are not owners of Volkswagen cars."


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