Volkswagen Group has shunned cloud adoption owing to stringent data regulations in Germany, opting instead for an internal hosted infrastructure to support its data lab.
Stefan Meinzer, project manager at Volkswagen's data lab, said at Gartner's Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit 2015, attended by V3, that all company data is kept in its Wolfsburg headquarters.
"We don't use cloud services. You can imagine Germany is extremely challenging in terms of data privacy, plus Volkswagen is a kind of traditional company and what [is important] is to really make sure the data is kept secure," he said.
"So we have our own IT infrastructure that is completely hosted by Wolfsburg so it is completely internal and it's completely secure."
Volkswagen decisions underlines the fact that cloud, will becoming an accepted part of many firm's IT operations, still poses major problems for some companies in certain sectors, limiting widespread adoption.
Driving into data
Regulations are not the only reason that Volkswagen wants to keep its data locked down on internal infrastructure.
The lab team uses information collected from connected cars to explore ways to harness the connectivity people have in their everyday lives with smartphones and connected homes.
The goal is to link various devices with cars and provide customers with improved information and services derived from this connectivity. Meinzer explained that customers now expect a level of connectivity and services from a car.
"We often talk about the connected customer. I think two or three or four years ago it was the connected car. Now the trend is going towards a connected customer using the car to be even more connected," he said.
"We are in a trend where the car itself is not the most important thing for a customer anymore or at least in a couple of years. It will be a car-as-a-service."
Meinzer also explained that the data lab uses the information to boost profits and lower costs.
Innovation is a key part of achieving this objective. Meinzer said that the lab does not have to work with particular standards and has the scope to "fail fast and cheap".
"Data is the most important thing for us. It's our daily business. In every piece of our supply chain data is produced," he said.
Driverless cars data
Meinzer told V3 that the promise of driverless cars from the likes of Google is affecting how Volkswagen approaches autonomous driving systems.
"Autonomous driving influences our entire culture, so to speak," he said, going on to explain how Google's car will provide customers with "awesome services" fuelled by connectivity, rather than just a vehicle.
However, Meinzer said that driverless cars will require access to personal data, raising questions about how willingly customers will give that data to companies like Google.
Volkswagen's own work on driverless cars aims to close the gap with the progress Google has made with its driverless systems, but Volkswagen will require a very considered approach to how its customer data will be used.
Meinzer was also not very complimentary about the appearance of Google's driverless car (pictured above), particularly compared with the premium cars found under the Volkswagen Group's banner.
Driverless cars are also a challenge for the UK government, particularly as it has given the go-ahead for autonomous vehicles to be tested on public roads.
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