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Today’s automotive industry depends as much on information technology as on steel, rubber and glass. Without IT, manufacturers would be unable to keep pace with the rapid changes in regulations and consumer preferences that have characterized the industry in recent years. Throw in the shift to electric vehicles, changes in the ways customers shop and buy, supply chain disruptions and shortages of critical components such as computer chips, and you have an industry almost entirely dependent on data and analytics to survive.

Speed and flexibility are the watchwords of today’s automotive assembly line, and BMW is staying ahead of the curve by updating its global IT systems with best-in-class technical solutions and the world-class talent to design and manage those systems. As part of a strategic partnership with BMW, Kyndryl will serve as the lead integrator of an innovative storage-as-a-service project that will provide the cloud data infrastructure foundation for all of BMW Group’s data center operations in across 17 countries on five continents. BMW’s key markets in China, Germany and the U.S. are included in the project.

Our customers produce 45 percent of the world’s passenger cars, and our global perspective from that experience enables us to help the industry navigate upheavals that consumers don’t see on the showroom floor. For starters, a recent McKinsey study found that nearly 60 percent of buyers across all regions and age groups would prefer not to visit a showroom at all. Customers want to evaluate, configure and order their vehicles online. This means that manufacturers need to provide a sophisticated digital shopping experience for drivers seeking increasingly complex, technology-based features in their vehicles – everything from intelligent “infotainment” and climate controls to selectable performance modes that can “learn” the characteristics associated with each driver in a multi-driver household.

All of this takes massive amounts of data – and the ability to gather, analyze, store and protect it. And that’s just for the vehicles being made today. In response to environmental concerns and government mandates, the industry is shifting to hybrid and fully electric platforms that reduce or eliminate dependence on fossil fuels. This means that instead of “changing the proverbial tire at 60 miles per hour,” vehicle makers are having to evolve their entire product lines in record time. And only a cloud-based IT infrastructure gives them the availability, scalability, security and resiliency to do that while maintaining ongoing operations and controlling costs.

The auto manufacturing industry is at a critical inflection point that will determine its shape and survival for decades to come, and strategic and innovative partnerships are the only way forward. Kyndryl’s deep industry expertise, diverse ecosystem of best-in-class partners and solutions, and legacy of distinguished service delivery are helping automakers such as BMW anticipate and meet future needs to remain leaders in this highly competitive sector.