Success lessons from Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG, EU CIO of the Year

I am reporting live from the field as noted in this article: “Journal: NYC, Pennsylvania, Geneva, Brussels-CIOCITY, Amsterdam, Paris.”

In this video captured at CIOCITY, the CIO summit hosted by CIONET, I overview what the EU CIO of the Year Winners embodied. I chaired the panel session with the EU CIO of the Year winners and we talked about the lessons which are appearing here. I also have an upcoming interview with Mattias where we will deep dive into enterprise success.

In this article, I will share key success tips in the CIOCITY 2015 Digital Leadership Report compiled, researched and authored by Nils Olaya Fonstad and Frederic De Meyer. Nils is the research scientist, Europe and LATAM, MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), Frederic is research director for CIONET International.

Quoting from the report and discussed in the panel session with the EU CIO of the Year winners:
Mattias Ulbrich, CIO, Audi AG, EU CIO of the Year

Category: Large Enterprise
Turnover (EUR): 53,8B
Employees (FTE): 80,000 worldwide

About the IT division
Full Time Equivalents: 952
% of Total IT Budget from last year spent on Operations and Maintenance: 40%
New Application Development: 60%

A selection of recent achievements

· Radically transformed the production process into a strong, digitized, lean and efficient “digital factory” by ensuring clear and efficient links between logistics, production and quality processes. At the core of this transformation was a Manufacturing Management System (MMS), consisting of three pillars: (1) a digital (rather than paper-based) vehicle tracking process; (2) the standardization and reduction of complexity of IT on the shop floor; and (3) an integration of the processes between production and logistics. This has further increased the quality of vehicles and the efficiency of the production chain and reduced overall costs. For example, the use of MMS has reduced incorrect installation and rework by 90 percent and shrunk shop floor IT costs by 50 percent.

· Introduced a cloud-based car IT architecture for mobile online services of Audi connect in the cars, thereby facilitating the creation of new business models sharing the vehicles’ entire life cycle. Over thirty new services and functions have been built on this architecture, all of which aim to increase comfort and efficiency of the cars, and enhance the driving experience.

· Developed a series of initiatives aimed at digitizing the customers’ touch points with the brand, through which customers can use multiple devices to assist throughout the whole customer journey and enable the company’s capacity to implement quickly new innovations. For example, in close collaboration with sales & marketing colleagues, developed a set of fully digital retail outlets in city centers, ‘Audi City’, that allow buyers to configure their dream vehicle on-site on innovative 32-inch multi-touch tables and to view the entire range of product variants and configurations in true-to-life detail on floor-to-ceiling powerwalls.

A selection of key lessons and advice

· Develop enough trust in IT to transform shadow IT into sources of innovation. To eliminate shadow IT, the Group IT first earned the trust of the rest of the business by delivering on what it promised, and pro-actively providing solutions to business challenges.

· Draw on IT to create new potential sources of revenue. To work on innovative mobility solutions with the Sales and Marketing division, Ulbrich helped found a new company, Audi Business Innovation GmbH, owned jointly by IT and Sales & Marketing. In his view this is the way forward for marketing and IT working together with a single, common objective in mind. IT is increasingly a part of everything a company does and could do. Therefore it is essential to collaborate in very intensive ways, create interdisciplinary teams, and jointly explore options for new sources of revenue.


“Any company nowadays has to rely on collaboration with multiple stakeholders, whether they are customers, startups or other divisions and functions within the company.”


I very much enjoyed participating at CIOCITY. I am invited to many international conferences, forums and summits each year and since the 1980s’. CIOCITY is definitely THE top-ranking and rewarding summit. I can see the work that went into its careful planning with action on feedback to make the event compelling to the delegates.

Earlier, I had a long discussion with the founder of CIONET, Hendrik Deckers. CIONET is the largest community of IT executives in Europe with reach into Asia, South America and now North America. Bringing together more than 5000 CIOs, CTOs and IT directors from wide-ranging sectors, cultures, academic backgrounds and generations, CIONET’s membership represents an impressive body of expertise in IT management. CIONET’s mission is to feed and develop that expertise by providing top-level IT executives with the resources they need to realise their full potential.

Here is an added earlier chat with Frits Bussemaker Program Director, Partner and Liaison International Relations CIONET:

More information about CIONET can be found at