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Before working at Porsche and Porsche Digital, Anja Hendel didn’t even have a car. Even today, she prefers to walk, ride a bike, or take sustainable, shared mobility solutions in the city and countryside.

However, as Managing Director of diconium, a digitalisation consultant, she is very excited about the future of mobility.

On this week’s Mobility Moments, Hemdel discusses the development of new on-demand functions and her hopes for the COP26 Summit in November.

Describe diconium and its main services and aims?

We are consultants and companions who support companies in their digital transformation – throughout the entire process. Whether it’s about strategic issues, optimising the customer experience, or developing data-driven tech solutions, we have more than 1,000 employees worldwide who, with the support of strong partners, are driving digitalisation for our clients.

We’ve been around since 1995, but we have reinvented ourselves several times over the years – and will continue doing so in the future. Our passion is progress. That’s an integral part of our DNA. Our clients benefit from having a full-service provider at their side that combines years of experience and technological expertise with a track record in delivering solutions.

Describe diconium’s relationship with Volkswagen?

diconium has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group for more than a year, so our experts are enriching the company and CARIAD, the software subsidiary, with their collective expertise. diconium is primarily involved in developing the global online sales platform, through which customers of the Group’s brands will be able to buy and manage digital services and on-demand functions for their connected cars.

They will be able to do this anytime, anywhere, throughout the entire customer journey – even after they purchase the car. A few of these functions include streaming multimedia, automatic payments for refuelling, charging, and parking, as well as vehicle updates.

How is digitisation changing the automotive industry?

Almost every challenge that digitalisation poses also affects other industries – and the same applies to the accompanying changes. Consumer behaviour is changing around the world, new distribution channels and value chains are emerging, and new competitors are entering the market. But what makes digitalisation in the automotive industry so special is that it targets the product’s very core. Engines have always been the technological heart of the automobile. In the future, it will be its software.

New functions in infotainment and driver-assistance systems will be developed like smartphone apps. Updates and new functions can be offered on-demand, “over the air” even quicker. Competitors are differentiating themselves more through the electronic experience elements in the vehicle, which, in turn, the software essentially determines. Digitalisation is not only changing the automotive industry at a rapid pace; it is rebuilding it from the ground up.

Anja Hendel

How can 5G be utilised by OEMs?

5G can launch the entire industry into a new age. Using many future technologies is linked to this mobile communications standard. New intelligent sensors have caused a real “data explosion” in vehicles, and the amount of data will increase exponentially in the future. But this data will have to be intelligently processed, shared, and transformed into new services. With its high bandwidth, edge computing, and network slicing, 5G provides the necessary tools to set this up and creates the prerequisite to further develop fully autonomous vehicles.

The OEMs’ ability to manage data intelligently will be more decisive for their competitiveness in the future than the motor’s performance in the engine bay. But that’s only one side of the story. Through campus networks and in connection with the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 5G enables completely new, flexible ways of production and exchange with suppliers and partners.

What future technologies are you most excited about?

There are various technologies that I find particularly interesting, especially regarding smarter mobility. For example, Edge AI and AIoT. This means machine learning is no longer taking place in external clouds but in local networks or, even better, in the sensors themselves. This technology is vital for autonomous vehicles. However, beyond technology, this development excites me.

In my experience, more companies in Germany are starting to understand that in order to position themselves for the future, they need to link the art of engineering “Made in Germany” with the power of disruptive innovations. And that doesn’t just apply to the automotive sector.

What are your hopes for the COP26 summit in November?

Global warming is perhaps the greatest challenge in human history – and digitalisation can help us overcome it. I hope that the results of the COP26 will help us take advantage of the enormous potential that using data and innovative technologies more intelligently offers. For example, remote work can drastically reduce traffic emissions. According to some estimates, modern connectivity solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 269 megatons by 2025.

Artificial intelligence and IoT are helping to make processes more efficient and consequently more resource friendly. I am convinced that if we want to combat global warming successfully, digitalisation must be high on our business, political, and societal agendas.

What will urban mobility look like by 2030?

The future of urban mobility will be based on four pillars: autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification, and shared mobility. The resulting mobility options are already on the rise and are gradually changing the way we get around sustainably and intelligently. In a few years, we will see and experience urban mobility that is more holistically organised than it is today.

Currently, we often experience coexistence, and talking about mobility is usually accompanied by a decisive “either-or”. Either the subway or the car, either the bicycle or car sharing. In the future, I really hope it will mostly be a “not only-but also”, especially because mobility is not only about getting from A to B but also about enabling social participation. That’s why a holistic understanding of mobility is so important.

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