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Connected Car Revolution through Cloud

By Raman Mehta, CIO, Visteon Corporation

Raman Mehta, CIO, Visteon Corporation

Could you give an overview of a CIO’s role in terms of revolution within an IT organization?

The way I see the CIO is that from a Chief Information Officer, you need to become a Chief Influence Officer along your journey. The influence only comes when you speak in business language— how you excite your counterparts in management so that people see you as an outcome-based person who can actually drive the adoption of technology to solve business problems. Once you become a trusted adviser, the next transition is becoming the Chief Innovation Officer.

"The thing that’s changing the whole industry is the adoption of deep learning within the automotive space"

How does the cloud help companies promote the connected car revolution?

There are two points. First, it’s about the infrastructure. When we drive our autonomous cars, we collect petabytes of video data, which are different from traditional, well-defined transactional data, for example. One of the challenges that we were running into is each of our engineering centers had to create their own infrastructure to crunch and collect this data. Now we are working with a couple of big public cloud providers and we move this data real-time. We keep the computing and storage in the cloud and serve through virtual desktop infrastructure.

Secondly, the cloud greatly helps the autonomous vehicle industry in the development of intuitive applications for end user consumption. The whole design philosophy is going to change as more and more cars become connected.

How would you define cloud adoption advantages from a business perspective?

Business is all about the outcomes. By adapting to the cloud, you are actually forced to stay on the modern versions of the software provider’s platform. If you have on-premise software, the tendency is to customize it with a lack of governance but when you make a commitment to the cloud you are adapting to the best processes within the industry. You are constantly leveraging product vendor innovations.

Previously, it used to take weeks to provide a new server or new application. The time has come down now from weeks to days and sometimes into minutes, which helps make the digital transformation much easier.

How can data processing be leveraged using cloud to deliver value to end users?

The thing that’s changing the whole industry is the adoption of deep learning within the automotive space, and that requires a large amount of training data. You have to have lots of real-time driving and simulation data that should be fed into the neural networks of an automation system. The radical change is that the cloud does the heavy duty of machine learning on this training data set. So, you can take care of the latency issues, network bandwidth restrictions, etc., and still make autonomous driving a reality. Unless these two things–cloud and edge computing–come together, the functional safety aspect will never be addressed satisfactorily.

What is your take on the security aspect in the field of connected vehicles?

Security is one of the most important aspects to focus on while taking both V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) and V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) into consideration. We are sharing data with a lot of cars and the assurance is needed that no one is doing anything harmful in the real-time information-sharing process. Through our various technologies, we re ensuring that safety and security are always preserved in vehicular connectivity.

How are IT and its innovations transforming the automotive sector?

Talking about automotive, there are no artificial boundaries between IT and the rest of the organization. We all look at the problem and see which part we can address most efficiently; at the end, we have the optimal solution. Digital disruption is more than adding digital technologies. It is about harnessing the power of technologies to develop new products, services and experiences that were not possible before. Digital transformation is becoming part of our organization DNA. We are bringing people, process, technology and tools together where design and manufacturing engineers can digitally share the relevant product and bill of material information that promotes reuse, and shortening cycle time while improving product quality. As an IT organization, we always have cybersecurity at the front of our mind. This is where both the design organization and IT have to be joined at the hip right from the beginning.

What’s Visteon’s current role in terms of IT revolution and digital transformation?

We are moving to digital smartboards with teams in multiple continents so that we become a more global and unified technology company. Also, we are improving our entire networking infrastructure, and moving toward software-defined wide area networks where we can increase or decrease the bandwidth at the push of a button. Meanwhile, we are adopting more software into our end products.

We have also undertaken a big initiative to manage our product lifecycle management where engineering, supply chain and manufacturing have unified and have seamless access to the same information. We are making our factories more connected so that we can predict a failure and take corrective action in advance.

How do you manage talent acquisition and talent management?

We are investing in our existing workforce so that these people can have in-depth automotive functional knowledge. They understand the safety and how the solutions we design have to be scalable. We are putting a lot of training to re-skill them not only with the traditional methods but also with online courses. We have also opened a virtual innovation center and have created the infrastructure that helps people re-skill themselves. We are aiming to make Visteon a cool place to work and we are working with the top-notch schools to find more talent.

What significant advice would you give to newly appointed or aspiring CIOs?

They need to create an environment for their team where they don’t need to have the mindset of staying out of trouble and actually try to solve those problems; otherwise, they will not be part of the success. CIOs need to elevate their discussions with their counterparts, the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, and with the board members as appropriate. You, as the CIO, have to speak their language and drive yourself out of your comfort zone with a mindset to solve troubles. Once you build that, everything will fall into place automatically.