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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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mhhfive 5/15/2017 | 12:57:45 PM
OTA updates for cars... Is Tesla the only automaker with wireless software updates? Every automaker is going to need to figure out how to switch from a product cycle of "every 5yrs" or so -- to a cycle that can deal with zero-day attacks. That's not going to be easy. Even Google hasn't quite figured it out yet with Android, but it's getting there.
danielcawrey 5/15/2017 | 1:42:54 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... I think digital prototyping is going to become huge in the auto industry. It is so expensive to mock up real-world models that in the past car companies could only take so many risks. 

That barrier is eradicated with technology that allows companies like Land Rover the ability to move faster...
mhhfive 5/15/2017 | 4:03:54 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... > "It is so expensive to mock up real-world models.."

Well, it's actually amazing to me that clay models are still made for a lot of car designs to help visualize new car shapes. I don't know if clay models are going to go anywhere until VR/AR is good enough to really replace physical models. 


And I doubt the NHTSA is going to allow simulated car crashes to replace real impact testing anytime soon, either. It could be possible someday, but maybe by then we'll have autonomous cars that don't ever crash anyway.
kq4ym 5/17/2017 | 5:49:11 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... It was interesting to note that "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," seemed to be a big thing. From the clay models to VR seems like a huge move and then the problems are to move all the other design, manufacturing, and IoT monitoring to the cloud and stay competitive with all the other manufacturers around the world.
Phil_Britt 5/18/2017 | 1:25:15 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... Autonomous cars will always crash for the same reason why there are many crashes today -- the driver in another vehicle does something in error, or there is an accident immediately in front of the vehicle and no opportunity to get out of the way. 

Perhaps some day, many deades in the future, all vehicles will be autonomous. But even then, a truck (even if autonomous) can lose a steel coil or some other load. The autonomous car will be programmed to either get out of the way, or to do so only if it won't hit anothe vehicle. Either way, there iwll be an accident. Additionally, just because a vehicle is autonomous doesn't mean it can't have a blowout -- which can also result in an accident.
mhhfive 5/18/2017 | 6:20:39 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... @PhilBritt -- Yup, and there's also the "Trolley Problem" for AI that hasn't been resolved yet -- ie. how do we determine how to program an autonomous car if it needs to weigh the possible consequences of an unavoidable accident. (For instance, injuring the occupants of the vehicle or others outside the vehicle.) It may actually be better if the car swerves into a brick wall if it was going to hit pedestrians because airbags will hopefully prevent passengers in the car from being killed. But what if the car has to choose between a hitting a school bus or a Prius? Does it always choose the smaller car? Does it use a random number generator?

Perhaps we should focus on driver augmentation for the near future, anyway.. 


[email protected] 5/18/2017 | 6:40:18 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... I know someone that has the new Jaguar and it has needed two software updates in a year. They should be better timed because they require a trip to the dealer and a loaner. Software is great in cars if it's able to be updated from the home of a driver. Imagine if we needed to update our cell phones with a trip to the phone store, labor intensive and time consumptive.
Phil_Britt 5/18/2017 | 8:04:46 PM
Re: OTA updates for cars... This might be part of the business case for the auto dealer. Car comes in for software update and other problems are found. Happens with recalls and regular maintenance all of the time. 

Though driving a Jaguar not in my future, I would never want a vehicle that required me to go to a dealer for service (with recalls, no other choice may be available).
[email protected] 5/23/2017 | 11:32:17 AM
Re: OTA updates for cars... It may the future of every vehicle as more and more vehicles are being driven by their software infrastructure.
Phil_Britt 5/23/2017 | 11:44:58 AM
Re: OTA updates for cars... You're probably right. 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).

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