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Gerhard Baum (Photo: Schaeffler)

Following in the footsteps of several other automotive companies, Schaeffler has appointed a chief digital officer. Gerhard Baum, formerly the head of IBM's automotive business, assumed his new responsibilities at the German supplier in October.

Baum's primary task will be to optimize, synchronize and merge the growing amounts of data that are generated across the company. Also, he will work on developing Schaeffler's strategy for Industry 4.0, the internet of things, big data and the cloud.

"We're taking a holistic approach here," Baum said in a press release. "The digital transformation will start at products via processes and technologies and continue right up to service for customers."

He added that Schaeffler plans to gradually create an integrated database and use mathematical algorithms to improve quality, boost sales and lower costs.

Baum, who earlier in his career also worked as an engineer for carmakers Daimler and Porsche and automotive supplier Robert Bosch, studied aerospace engineering and IT at Germany's Stuttgart University.