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Land Rover Jaguar: 'Driven by IT'

When Land Rover Jaguar CIO Simon Bolton started his IT career, the job was "removing people and paper" from business processes. But now IT is driving change throughout the automotive industry, he said.

"Being the CIO in an automotive company at the moment is the most fascinating place to be. There is so much change in the industry right now, and all of it is driven by IT," Bolton said in a talk hosted by Dell Technologies to press and analysts at the Dell EMC World conference in Las Vegas last week.

For example: As part of its design effort, Land Rover Jaguar hired game designers to render cars in virtual reality. "Our ability to create virtual models of the product, to present the products to the executive team, to make decisions on which we will develop and which we won't develop, is becoming increasingly important," Bolton said. VR allowed the executive team to make decisions faster. And the company found game designers had the best skills at making car movements and images realistic.

Jaguar's Simon Bolton
Jaguar's Simon Bolton

But that's just part of the change driving Land Rover Jaguar. The industry is moving away from the internal combustion engine, and toward autonomous cars and connected cars, Bolton said.

"Jaguar Land Rover is traditionally a mechanical engineering company. We make parts. A physical product. But it's becoming a software company," Bolton said.

A Range Rover has 20 million lines of code in it. "It's a complex software product. That's a competency we have had to create in the company," Bolton said.

"You're going to expect your cars to be more like your iPhones, so your cars get software updates over the air," he said. "We don't know how to do that."

And cars are loaded with sensors, generating great volumes of data, which the company needs to manage.

When Bolton took over as CIO in July, he inherited data centers containing equipment that was 20-25 years old. "If we're simply running all the applications we were running 20 years ago, we won't be able to compete."

Updating that equipment is Bolton's biggest problem. "The legacy estate that we have is old, but it's incredibly complex and it's evolved over many, many years," he said. Simplifying the operating model is core to the company's success.

"If we're unable to do that, I struggle to see how we can be the agile technology company we need to be," Bolton said.

Additional priorities include updating manufacturing and engineering, and modernizing infrastructure to move more quickly and reduce costs. The company needs to enable users in China, the UK and US to collaborate, co-create, and innovate in ways they simply can't do today, Bolton said.

And Jaguar Land Rover needs to update its skills, training existing staff, recruiting young people from universities, and prioritizing diversity.

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"There are too many people in my organization who look pretty much like me -- white middle-aged male," Bolton said.

Land Rover Jaguar is making use of public cloud, and wants to do more with it. Business units are using public cloud without IT's knowledge, for software-as-a-service or infrastructure-as-a-service. In the past, that's been frowned on as "shadow IT." "Somehow, we need to embrace that and allow it," Bolton said.

IT uses public cloud as well. It was an early adopter of Google G Suite for for collaboration.

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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kq4ym 6/19/2017 | 8:06:58 AM
Re: OTA updates for cars... Yes, the security  of updates is surely going to be an issue for car makers and the software folks. Just how to keep their brand out of the bad news when there's a breach is going to take some careful design and creativity to figure out just what might go wrong.
mhhfive 6/7/2017 | 7:44:36 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... > "...software upgrades will be a major part of auto dealers business model of the future."

Hmm. I think we'll have to agree to disagree there. Unless you mean software upgrades like "buy Tesla Autopilot 3.1.1 -- and unlock a new feature that allows you to park your car at home after dropping you off" and not "buy JeepSecurity 1.2 -- and prevent hackers from stealing your car while you're not at home"..... 

I think people expect upgrades that allow them to do more things with the products that they've already purchased... but I'm not so sure how many features can be introduced that it will be a sustainable business model. Unless it's a Car-As-A-Service entirely... 
Phil_Britt 6/7/2017 | 7:37:03 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... I have to disagree. I think the software upgrades will be a major part of auto dealers business model of the future -- like giving away razors and charging for the blades. Dealers will see the software upgrades as a profit center.
mhhfive 6/7/2017 | 7:26:59 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... The advent of autonomous vehicles will really disrupt automakers. That's why some of them are already trying to get into the Uber/Lyft market with Maven and other ride apps. 

Perhaps cars won't need many software upgrades in the near future because autonomous cars will just be bare-bones vehicles outside of the boxes/sensors needed to make them autonomous. 
Phil_Britt 6/6/2017 | 7:50:15 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... There are indeed situations where a Lyft or Uber make more sense than owning a vehicle.
mhhfive 6/6/2017 | 7:43:28 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... Eventually, cars with mechanical carburetors and other "ancient" tech will be more expensive to maintain and own than just hailing an electric vehicle to pick you up with an app....  

Automakers are looking at quite a few different disruptions on the horizon. Autonomous cars, car sharing and video conferencing are all making car ownership a different proposition. Autonomous cars could make owning a car like owning your own private taxi service if it's paired with a car sharing network -- so instead of it being a money pit as the car ages, an autonomous car could earn money while it's new-ish and just be disposable at the end of its battery life.... 
Phil_Britt 6/6/2017 | 4:16:04 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... That's still likely 10-15 years away. I mean true beaters -- ones that help the economy by keeping mechanics busy (mine has a dedicated stall for me).

mhhfive 6/6/2017 | 4:01:42 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... > "Wireless updates will need to be standard for autom manufacturers. They should already be."

Tesla has wireless updates, but I'm not sure why the Jeep hacking recall hasn't spurred more wireless security.... 


I havne't heard of any automakers planning to do secure software updates.... 
mhhfive 6/6/2017 | 3:58:27 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... > "That will make it difficult for those of us who drive "beaters" (which is why it will be 10-15 years before a driverless car likely to be in my wheelhouse)."

There *was* as driverless solution for "beaters" from Comma AI, but California DMV regulations forced it to become an open source project. So instead of a $1000 driverless box to retrofit your beater someday, you might have a DIY kit to play with.... 


So is that 10-15 years away still.. maybe? 
Mitch Wagner 6/6/2017 | 2:31:59 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... mhhfive - Absolutely yes. Wireless updates will need to be standard for autom manufacturers. They should already be. 
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