How Mercedes uses software to rewrite the product development manual

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In a world of “software-defined vehicles,” old-school automakers compete with new-school Silicon Valley for software engineers, user experience developers, and coders.

General Motors said it would hire more than 8,000 technicians this year to accelerate the development of electric vehicles and software-driven services. Mercedes, meanwhile, is recruiting an army of 10,000 software engineers from Berlin, China, India, Israel, Japan and the United States.

In a survey of 572 automotive executives by research institute Capgemini, 97% said four in 10 internal workers would need software skills within five years, from IT architects to cloud management professionals. to cybersecurity experts.

Automakers are rewriting their product development playbook to prioritize speed and collaboration.

“We’re in a different competition right now,” Starzynski said. “We looked around and said, ‘Who can we learn from internally?’ “

Mercedes found inspiration in its Formula 1 racing team, which relies on “continuous iteration” to shave milliseconds off lap times every weekend.

For the development of the EQ model range, Mercedes abandoned department silos in favor of a flat organizational structure that encourages real-time collaboration.

“We brought together people from all walks of life and they were fighting for the best ideas,” Starzynski said. “Then we integrated management” at board level for faster decision-making.

The new workflow is evident at Mercedes development centers from Shanghai to Sunnyvale, California. Open-floor workspaces encourage casual interactions and spark the sharing of ideas between teams.

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