CIO Klaus Straub says BMW IT is changing processes to address new digital challenges (Photo: Claus Dick)

HANOVER - Silicon Valley is the source of various new disruptive technologies and the auto industry should treat these "with respect," BMW CIO Klaus Straub said Thursday.

Carmakers are facing "dramatic changes," Straub  said in an address to the automotiveIT Congress here."Digital disruption will happen in auto industry," he said.

As the industry addresses, some of the new challenges, car manufacturers and their IT departments are copying some of the strategies that have proven successful in fast-moving digital and consumer electronics industry. Straub cited agile development methods and the use of more open-source software as possible ways to adapt.

"Agile methods are vital, but they will only be implemented if we have a stable foundation in our very business," Straub said. He noted that BMW has employed scrum methods to develop software for its electric i3 city car.

The BMW CIO acknowledged that the premium car maker, along with other traditional automotive companies, is closely watching reports that companies such as Google and Apple are planning to build their own cars. "Luckily, cars are a very complex business," Straub said. "And if we work together with our suppliers, I think we could win such a battle."

Straub also said he saw cooperation possibilities in the area of big data with a company like Google. "We're having good discussions," he said.

The changes underway will also impact BMW's IT operations. Top management ready to address digital disruption and has developed a new understanding of corporate IT, he said.

By the middle of the year, the Bavarian automaker will present a concept for the creation of a new open-space concept for the IT departments. And Straub said the company will adopt a "ruthless" standardisation strategy to speed up processes.

The automotiveIT Congress, which is hosted by the automotiveIT Group, has as its theme "The Auto Industry of the Future ”“ The New Role of IT.”