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Dr. Michael Gorriz (52) has been CIO at Daimler since January 2008. A physics graduate, he started his career at the aerospace company MBB before being appointed head of Daimler Benz Aerospace in Mexico in 1994.

Facts and Figures

Daimler AG
Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, Daimler Group has a global workforce of 260,000 and posted sales of €97.7 billion in 2010. A manufacturer of passenger cars and commercial vehicles, the company’s history began with the foundation of Benz & Cie. Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik in Mannheim more than 125 years ago. Under brands that include Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Maybach and AMG, the group sold 1,362,908 vehicles last year.


“Shrinking our application landscape by 40 percent is not pie in the sky; it’s a totally realistic goal.”
“Showing that an IT project creates value is far more difficult than the actual project work.”
Dr. Michael Gorriz,
CIO Daimler AG

“It’s time to get down to business with the cloud" - Part 2

Your Open Innovation Networking project is designed to encourage innovation across the entire Daimler Group. How satisfied are you with this project so far?
The OIN has made a promising start. So far, we have collected about 1,000 ideas. We’re currently in the third stage of selecting entries, and ten of the most innovative ideas have got through this round. A filter factor of 1 in 10 per stage is very healthy and a satisfactory result.
To support teamwork among your workforce of 200,000, you have commissioned the world’s biggest cloud-based collaboration platform for an enterprise. Why cloud-based?
Well, nowadays businesses clearly do not need to operate their own dedicated collaboration services. If the cloud makes sense anywhere, then it’s here, where 99.999 percent availability is not essential. Collaboration is not really that mission-critical.
That ties in with a standards-based approach, making it easier to secure in-house backing.
That’s right. Collaboration is a service that needs to be based on standardized technologies – leveraging the rich functionality that’s already available in the cloud. The ultimate goal is to get more for less.
For less money, obviously – but more of what?
Take instant messaging, video, and voice integration – the cloud offers ample storage capacity, and through T-Systems, we gain a complete and consistent toolkit for collaboration. The fact that the platform is operated in the cloud, on the Internet, means we get superior access.
In the context of collaboration, digital natives have a big role to play. The new platform – together with social media, perhaps – will accelerate collaboration, and at the same time, improve employee training. Is that one of your defined goals?
Definitely. There are four aspects to Daimler’s Digital Life program: how are digital media impacting internal communications, how do they affect the way we manage markets and customers, how do they impact our products, and what new business opportunities will they create? With regard to collaboration, once our new platform is in place, we will be able to incorporate new possibilities, such as social media. We have implemented the technology needed for user and device management, in response to the bring-your-own-device trend. Although we still have to define policies for use in greater detail, the pilot project, featuring the T-Systems Mobile Device Manager, is going very well. It’s simply a matter of installing an encrypted container on the employee’s personal device, ensuring a secure connection between the device and the corporate IT environment.
Does Digital Life also address the fact that, as surveys show, 30 percent of potential employees with university degrees are more interested in the availability of an Internet collaboration platform at work than the starting salary?
It’s not a question of technology; it’s about the management culture. Younger recruits want to take their favorite online collaboration platforms into the business environment, simply because they work in virtual teams from home more often than the old guard. This causes some discomfort for senior managers, who sometimes cling to old ways of thinking. But providing the corresponding technology is not a huge problem. However, at the same time, we first need to cultivate this new, more intensive form of collaboration.
IT and automobile technology are converging at many points. Daimler is one of the leading participants in the German government’s four-year research project, simTD. What are your expectations?
Car-to-X technologies, enabling vehicles to exchange data with traffic-management and communications systems, are dependent on ground infrastructure, and on the ability to identify the user in the vehicle. Both are tasks that conventional IT can perform. As a result, IT products and services for cars will become increasingly important. Allowing drivers to send information to manufacturers is useful because that way we discover how they actually use their cars. And we can be much more responsive to their needs and expectations. In the future, we will have interactions with in-car users that can be leveraged to create tangible benefits.
And this core competency will remain with OEMs?
Definitely. It has to remain with us because we, the manufacturers, want to find out more about our customers. And the only way to do that is to establish a permanent connection with the customer – in other words, with the car.
During a car’s development cycle, the software deployed on a cell phone will be updated half a dozen times. How can you hope to keep pace?
The question is: how can I integrate a mobile device into my car? Our engineers are working on a variety of methods. But we won’t be able to solve this particular problem entirely. Because of its much greater value, a car will always have a longer life than a mobile device. We need to find ways of minimizing this mismatch, for instance by using the car as a display for mobile devices.
When will in-car Internet connectivity become standard?
By the end of this decade it will be commonplace.
And what will a CIO’s job entail at the end of this decade?
The CIO’s tasks will remain much the same, as is the case with a CFO or the head of human resources. In eight years’ time, the CIO will still be responsible for company-wide process integration and for ensuring that all employees have the best possible IT support – and that includes data security and data protection. Whether we will be doing everything in the cloud or still running our own data centers is anyone’s guess. But the CIO’s role will still be key, probably even more so.
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