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That’s where AI comes into play. When most people think about Artificial Intelligence (AI), they probably think about self-driving cars, robots from Boston Dynamics or similar things. When we at the Porsche Finance & IT department think about AI, we fiddle about how to improve standard processes in order to preserve our precious human resources.
Wouldn’t it be nice if a machine could take over those repetitive tasks? If we could win time to work on the exciting stuff? Intelligent technology will give us the so badly needed free time. Time that we can invest in the preparation for the future, interesting experiments, and great new products — reaching out from horizon 1 to 3.
As a McKinsey study about the effects of AI in Finance states, the technology can fully automate 42 percent of finance activities and mostly automate a further 19 percent — this includes robotic process automation (RPA), even though that is not a very intelligent technology. If we could really enhance our processes to such an extent, we would free up our most valuable resources — our employees — in order to teach and train them to tackle the challenges to come.
Learning what AI can and cannot do
Interestingly, Artificial Intelligence is not only a tool to support Porsche’s employees, but it is also a great example of how the company itself is already learning and transforming. In 2017 and 2018, our innovation department tested AI in various pilot projects, experimenting with all three innovation horizons to understand what the technology can and cannot do. In those two years, we learned valuable lessons, especially which questions to ask in order to make AI scalable and to understand which capabilities are needed.
Not very surprisingly, it became quite obvious: Artificial Intelligence can do a lot. So, it is not without reason that our CIO Matthias Ulbrich made AI one of the main pillars of Porsche’s IT strategy. As one key technology, it can e.g. help us to balance our different tracks of innovation at Porsche. With the help of intelligent technology, we can enhance our core initiatives, empower operations in the adjacent horizon and create the right conditions for transformational innovations. Besides that, AI also poses its own challenges — not only on the technological side but especially in terms of organization and culture. At Porsche, our AI@Porsche initiative gathers all the activities around AI at Porsche as part of our digitization strategy — such as the AI Monday that we now brought to Stuttgart. We need to address all those different levels to fully leverage the potential of AI.