Skoda has kickstarted a new strategic program AccelerateIT, where the manufacturer reinforces its trust in Microsoft. Employees from the Czech brand's IT team and other departments are being instructed and certified by Microsoft on working with the Azure cloud platform, data and artificial intelligence (AI). Some members of staff have already completed their online training. Microsoft will also provide Skoda with special tools and free support from Azure specialists for cloud architecture, data and AI technologies.
As it runs over 100 applications on Microsoft Azure, Skoda is already a significant user of this platform within Volkswagen Group and has many years of experience. Klaus-Dieter Schurmann, Skoda Auto Board Member for Finance and IT, said: "Our collaboration with Microsoft is an important and helpful step for the digital transformation of Skoda. Digitalisation and using artificial intelligence are key focus areas in our 2025 Strategy and the prerequisite for our continued transformation from a traditional car manufacturer into the Simply Clever company for the best mobility solutions."
Cloud-based AI solutions already help the company to determine how to optimally load the truck containers at the main plant in Mlada Boleslav. Microsoft Azure therefore assists in saving shipping costs and reducing CO2 emissions. Every AI decision to be taken considers an extraordinary number of parameters, which requires very high computing power. Even the smallest inaccuracy could lead to logistical issues, so there is very little room for error. It is crucial to make use of AI. SKODA's car configurator also runs on Azure and is supported by Microsoft data centres in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia as the application is used by people from all over the world.
Microsoft supports AccelerateIT with several main objectives. First, Azure is to serve as a platform for processes and business models that are based on data and AI. The digital customer services created on the cloud-based platform are to assist in setting Skoda apart from its competitors. Developing Skoda Autos Competence Centre for Azure further, as well as migrating and updating applications, is the second objective.
This will enable continuous connected IT services without any downtimes, based on secure and legally compliant data processing. The third focus area is to create a new and stimulating working environment, so that Skoda Auto will be perceived as the best IT employer in central and eastern Europe. Making self-service platforms - such as Power BI (business intelligence) to create management reports and chatbots to provide all business areas with modern support - available centrally and in a standardised format is the fourth objective.