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BMW’s Hildegard Wortmann (left) and Karl Probst describe the opportunities and challenges of connected cars (Photo: automotiveIT)

HANOVER ”“ BMW executives see huge possibilities to add a wealth of new in-car infotainment functions, but they agreed that selectivity is key.

“The possibilities are endless but we need to focus on what makes sense from the point of view of usefulness for the customer,” said Hildegard Wortmann, senior vice president product management at the German premium car maker.

Wortmann spoke at the annual automotiveDAY conference here. She was joined by BMW CIO Karl Probst.

The two executives said IT teams work closely with product development staff from the start of every new product. Probst said one of his key responsibilities is to make sure that what’s offered in a BMW car is always available.

“You need a high-performance business IT that guarantees connectivity at all time,” he said.

Probst said service providers to BMW cannot just look at one small part of a process, but need to share responsibility for the entire project. “Everyone has to understand what it’s about,” he said.

The BMW CIO cited a 30 pc-50 pc growth rate in the volume of data that his company accumulates as a resulted of its connected cars. He said the challenge for BMW is to turn unstructured anonymous data into useful knowledge.

"The difference between information and knowledge," he said, is "that it is information that a tomato is a fruit. Knowledge is not to put it in a fruit salad."

The automotiveDAY conference, which is organized by automotiveIT, takes place every year during the CeBIT high-tech fair here. The gathering features a range of industry speakers who are focusing this year on the central role of IT in boosting efficiency in the car industry.

In addition to Probst and Wortmann, speakers include Audi CIO Axel Strotbek, Mann + Hummel CIO Stefan Ihringer and Continental CIO Elsiabeth Hoeflich. Also on the agenda are addresses by Daimler CTO Peter Schneider and Lamborghini CIO Matthias Schlapp.