Cloud-based AI solutions already help ŠKODA AUTO, for example, to determine how to optimally load the truck containers at the main plant in Mladá Boleslav. Microsoft Azure therefore assists in saving shipping costs and reducing CO2 emissions. Every AI decision to be taken considers an extraordinary number of parameters, which requires very high computing power. Even the smallest inaccuracy could lead to logistical issues, so there is very little room for error. It is crucial to make use of AI. ŠKODA’s car configurator also runs on Azure and is supported by Microsoft data centres in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia as the application is used by people from all over the world. Klaus Blüm, Head of ŠKODA IT, stated: “ŠKODA AUTO is changing into a provider of comprehensive and innovative mobility services that are based on data, and increasingly also on AI. We use artificial intelligence to improve internal processes in our business, in our vehicles including for autonomous driving and, of course, for our new customer-friendly online services. In order to speed up our transformation, ŠKODA AUTO has launched the strategic program AccelerateIT, which will be strengthened through our collaboration with Microsoft.”
Microsoft supports AccelerateIT with several main objectives. First, Azure is to serve as a platform for processes and business models that are based on data and AI. The digital customer services created on the cloud-based platform are to assist in setting ŠKODA AUTO apart from its competitors. Developing ŠKODA AUTO’s Competence Centre for Azure further, as well as migrating and updating applications, is the second objective. This will enable continuous connected IT services without any downtimes, based on secure and legally compliant data processing. The third focus area is to create a new and stimulating working environment, so that ŠKODA AUTO will be perceived as the best IT employer in central and eastern Europe. Making self-service platforms – such as Power BI (business intelligence) to create management reports and chatbots to provide all business areas with modern support – available centrally and in a standardised format is the fourth objective.
“The car industry is facing a dramatic change over the coming years. ŠKODA AUTO has prepared for this at an early stage and is investing significantly in digitalisation and software. The use of AI technology and the consistent use of data to optimise internal processes and support new customer services are essential focus areas of our digitalisation strategy. To this end, we are also pursuing new ways to collaborate. Together with our ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab, we have established an AI Hub, a joint community of AI experts and partners to advance our projects quickly and in an agile manner,” explained Andre Wehner, Chief Digital Officer at ŠKODA AUTO. Stefan André Raschke, Senior Director Automotive, Microsoft Deutschland GmbH, added: “ŠKODA AUTO has been using Microsoft Azure for customer-related cloud applications which call for a high degree of scalability and availability for years. ŠKODA AUTO currently runs more than 100 applications on Microsoft Azure and is one of the largest clients of this platform within Volkswagen Group. Now, the car manufacturer wants to use the cloud and AI solutions even more comprehensively to assist with its digital transformation.”