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BMW Group embarks on data-driven supply chain revamp with AWS

BMW Group is forging even closer ties with AWS by enlisting its help to refine its supply chain and manufacturing processes, as well as train up its staff in cloud technologies

BMW Group is embarking on a wide-ranging collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) geared towards migrating its data to the cloud, upskilling its software engineers and co-developing products to revamp its production processes.

The motor manufacturer has committed to migrating a number of its core IT systems and databases to the cloud, which equates to a sizeable data migration exercise as it will involve BMW business units located in more than 100 countries.

The systems earmarked for migration to the cloud include sales, manufacturing and maintenance functions, with BMW claiming the move will boost its business agility, help it make better use of its data and contribute to the creation of new customers experiences.

A large portion of this work will see BMW Group further expand a pre-existing data lake, known as the Cloud Data Hub, hosted within the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) that is used by developers and employees across the organisation.

The organisation plans to extend the range of organisations that can feed vehicle operating and maintenance data into the Cloud Data Hub to include third-parties, such as car dealerships, part suppliers and other technology companies.

The idea being that BMW Group’s in-house development teams can combine the contents of the Cloud Data Hub with parts of the wider AWS machine learning portfolio, which includes its machine learning model builder tool Amazon SageMaker, to create new products and services.

As an example, BMW Group said this could result in it being able to use machine learning to forecast demand for its vehicles and parts, enabling it to optimise its supply chain and sales processes to deliver an improved customer experience.

The companies will also continue on with a related body of work, designed to improve the transparency of its supply chain, that involves the expanded use of the AWS-based BMW Group PartChain Platform.

This makes use of the Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) and open source blockchain management tools to improve the traceability of automotive parts and assorted raw materials within the company’s global supply chain.

“This allows the BMW Group to link specific parts and vehicles to assist in defect investigations, as well as validate that materials are coming from socially responsible sources,” the companies said in a joint statement.

To deliver on all these projects, the companies have committed to co-investing in training up to 5,000 BMW Group-affiliated software engineers in the latest AWS technologies, but its wider employee base will also be offered training to make better use of data analytics in their roles.

“AWS Professional Services and the BMW Group’s data scientists will work with BMW Group employees to identify business challenges, evaluate emerging technologies, and develop new cloud-enabled solutions for the automotive industry,” the statement continued.

The companies have also set out plans to develop a natural language processing offering that can automatically extract, process and translate data from diverse text sources such as factory reports, social media, and customer-facing chatbots to inform the decision-making processes of its marketing, compliance and maintenance teams.

Alexander Buresch, CIO and senior vice-president at BMW Group IT, said its technology tie-up with Amazon will position the firm as an industry leader in terms of automotive innovation.

“We are making data central to the way we work and we look forward to collaborating with AWS to merge our talents, continuing to raise the bar for innovation among automakers and delivering exciting new experiences for our customers around the world,” said Buresch.

Matt Garman, vice president of sales and marketing at AWS, added: “By combining the domain expertise of the BMW Group with AWS’s demonstrated leadership in the cloud, we’re expanding our impact across the automotive industry so that stakeholders, from parts manufacturers to mechanics, can benefit from greater visibility and insights.”

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