Mattias Ulbrich’s dual role, and the departure of previous CDO and head of Porsche Digital, Thilo Koslowski, suggests that digital transformation at many OEMs might be most effective by those with hands-on IT roles.

Stefan Zerweck, Mattias Ulbrich, Porsche

Porsche’s digital duo

Stefan Zerwick (left) and Mattias Ulbrich are now leading Porsche Digital (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche chief information offiicer Mattias Ulbrich is taking charge of digitalization at the sports car maker. He succeeds Thilo Koslowski, a Silicon Valley veteran who is taking on “new tasks outside Porsche Group,” the company said in a statement.

The appointment of Ulbrich, 52, combines information technology and digitalization under one senior executive. A similar structure is in place at Renault, where CIO Frederic Vincent also heads both functions.

Vincent said in an interview with automotiveIT International last year, that “you cannot do digital transformation if you don’t have operational levers.”

Next to his CIO duties, Ulbrich will head the Porsche Digital subsidiary. His second in command will be Stefan Zerweck, who will serve as COO at the digital unit.

Ulbrich joined Porsche in the autumn of 2018 from Audi, where he served as CIO since 2012. Both brands are part of the Volkswagen Group.

Zerweck worked on Porsche’s Digital Business Platform from early 2018. The business IT specialist previously worked for Daimler.

The departure of Koslowski underlines the difficulties car companies face in integrating experts who come from digital industries.

Koslowski was a well known Silicon Valley-based analyst who worked for consultants and market researchers Gartner in California before he moved to Porsche.

Similarly, Volkswagen’s former chief digital officer, Johann Jungwirth, was recruited by the carmaker from Apple to lead VW’s digitalization. But he moved back to the US two years later to head VW mobility services there.

And at the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Ogi Redzic, a Nokia and HERE executive, was recruited in 2016 to head mobility services for the two carmakers. He lasted two years and seven months in the job, before jumping to Caterpillar.

Thilo Koslowski, Porsche

Thilo Koslowski had been recruited to lead Porsche Digital from Gartner (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche Digital was established in the spring of 2016. With offices at Porsche headquarters in Ludwigsburg, Germany, and in Berlin, Silicon Valley and Shanghai, it now has about 100 employees.

The subsidiary is tasked with identifying and implementing digital customer experiences, products and business areas. It develops new value creation models and novel product offers and engages in the worldwide scouting of new technology trends.