Question: Why does SEAT need a CIO or, to put it another way, how much freedom does the subsidiary have in defining its IT strategy?
Radon: IT at SEAT is firmly integrated in the Volkswagen Group’s IT. We help define the strategy and even take the lead here and there. We use services that our colleagues at Audi or Volkswagen provide, just as they use services that we provide. But you still need someone who is responsible for IT locally to ensure that you’re able to respond to the specifics of the markets. Staffing policies and distribution channels in Spain are a bit different to those in Germany, and then there is also a factory where a lot of cars are manufactured, and which has to run reliably. You need someone to take care of IT on site, especially when, as in the pandemic, you suddenly have to upgrade the entire IT infrastructure within a week to ensure that, from one day to the next, over 6,000 employees can continue work in the same way as usual, but from home.
Question: How does restructuring the Group’s IT impact on SEAT and CUPRA?
Radon: We define shared system landscapes or “platforms”, to use a word that is very popular right now. Our company is well known for this in terms of vehicles. But there is also a platform strategy in the context of IT. We currently hold a prominent position here with DPP, our digital production platform, which we are developing together with AWS and other partners, and which is intended to link all the factories that manufacture vehicles. Again, you have to tailor it to the individual factories with their legacy systems. At the same time, there will also be a global engineering platform that we’ll help shape with our specific requirements.
Question: Does that mean that SEAT uses the same IT platforms in development and production as the Group?
Radon: On the face of it, yes, but there are always circumstances that arise in the factories that are a result of their history, for example, and there are also always innovations that are first tried out at our factory and then scaled up as necessary. The basis, however, is standardized to a great extent. KPDM CONNECT and the old workhorse KVS are used in Matorell in the same way as they are in Wolfsburg, and also using many German terms. At SEAT, the “Frührunde” (early round) is also called “Frührunde”.
Question: Where does SEAT have the greatest need for digitalization and where are the Spaniards a step ahead?
Radon: We are certainly ahead when it comes to the digitalization of mobility. We have had our own mobility solution in our factory for a year and a half now, which means there are no longer specific vehicles for the different departments. Employees can access a pool of vehicles without any need for keys via the GIRAVOLTA platform that was developed in-house and a corresponding app. This could be a SEAT, a CUPRA or one of the SEAT MÓ electric scooters or what we call ByBus, a kind of shuttle-on-demand service that takes people from station to station. Our colleagues in Wolfsburg now want to adopt the mobility solution.
Question: And where is SEAT still lagging a bit behind?
Radon: We are developing our IT strategy in two dimensions of digitalization. One is the digital transformation and development of new business models that no longer have anything to do with selling individual vehicles. The second is digital optimization, which involves digitalizing our internal processes. I don't know of any process at SEAT that isn't digital, but there are still a lot of discontinuities between systems. For me, digitalization means the end-to-end utilization of digital information. We certainly have some catching up to do, not just at SEAT, but in the industry as a whole.
Question: How important is the topic of conventional PLM in the context of your strategy?
Radon: It’s very important. Today, the validation of vehicles is for the most part performed virtually, and PLM provides the basis for doing this. But PLM is also helpful if you think a little bit further, for example, about the digitalization of production. One of my pet passions from my old job is monitoring quality in production or logistics with the help of cameras. You can use PLM data to artificially generate the indexed images you need for evaluation using artificial intelligence. This avoids thousands of images having to be indexed manually.