Pritsch wants to network all Robert Bosch processes (Photo: Claus Dick)

The Bosch Group championed hot topics such as digitization, networked products and Industry 4.0 at an early stage. In an interview, CIO Elmar Pritsch explains the focus of the Stuttgart-based technology company in its individual business areas and how it intends to reach its goal of making all its electronic components “smart” by 2020.

Mr. Pritsch, Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner continues to stress that your company combines the best of two worlds. By that, he means industry and information technology. What is the significance of this for Information Systems and Services as a central function?Bosch has a clear strategic goal: We create solutions for the networked life. With our broad know-how, we are pressing ahead with networking in every area of the company: mobility, smart home, energy and building technology, and industry. With networking’s growth, IT has naturally become more important at Bosch. That’s because a modern IT infrastructure is the basic requirement for the ability to grow quickly and agilely in a networked world. For intelligence solutions you need software within products, as well as classic IT computing power at the backend. That’s true in all four areas of the company.

That’s good, but what concrete contribution are you making to the internet of Bosch things with IT?We are establishing the technical foundation for an ecosystem that is open and that networks us across departments. For example, today we can use sensor technology to detect whether a fragile product was damaged due to shaking during transport to the customer and to automatically call up a new delivery from inventory with the help of the ERP system. We provide all our networking projects with a comprehensive toolbox including programming interfaces based on a dynamic and secure IT infrastructure. The impact lies in a combination of domain knowledge and IT know-how. We are very well positioned here.

Can you give us an example?Bosch uses RFID tags in its manufacturing operations. The tags are linked to product information in the ERP system. Many previously manual processes such as incoming goods inspection now run automatically, ensure a rapid production pace, and increase the precision of the manufacturing process that the workpieces undergo.

What are the greatest challenges that you now have to tackle?Our strategy is to network all the company’s electronic processes. At the end of 2015, we had already made 47 percent of our product classes IP-capable. At the same time, we are honing our structures to handle this. With the Bosch IoT Cloud and the Bosch IoT Suite, we are building a solid basis on the system side, offering flexibility and scalability, high availability, quality and security. We also have a healthy dose of creativity from talented employees that we seek out and hire everywhere in the world, in Europe as well as the major growth markets: the U.S., China and India. Many interesting projects involving big data and data mining are underway in our research and technology centers, such as our Palo Alto facility in California. This year, Bosch is planning to hire about 14,000 college graduates worldwide, with 2,100 in Germany alone. Nearly one out of every two open positions at Bosch involves IT or software. We already employ more than 15,000 software developers worldwide. We are continually improving a framework for a digital culture where cooperation and innovation play a key role.

The full interview with Elmar Pritsch was published in the June issue of the automotiveIT International magazine. For a complimentary copy, please subscribe at: