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Theresa and Oliver are a team that might look quite unequal at first glance, but they complement each other very well on an intellectual level. Oliver is a change driven “preacher” with a long history at Continental. Theresa is a student who just finished university, bringing in new perspectives. Together they are developing a concept for the IT strategy that shows how the topic of Artificial Intelligence is not just a trend but rather a future success factor in the context of IT – when being implemented in a sustainable and ethical manner.

How does Data and Knowledge in combination with AI change our world?

“Data and knowledge are todays energy. Artificial Intelligence and its application that uses data and knowledge as its source of energy are the new electricity.”

What does this mean? Do you remember how everything started with the discovery of electricity?

In the beginning only “light” was associated with electricity. Soon after, more and more possibilities for the usage of power followed (Innovation). Nowadays power is the heartbeat of a human made organism that our future – our life – latches on to.

AI will also undergo this evolution. We will constantly find new ways of benefitting from it whilst the technological possibilities will also increase. AI will lead to new ideas and innovations (e.g. new business models and applications) but will become the new normal at the same time (commodity).

How Continental becomes even better than it is already.

There are two fields that influence Continental in a particularly impactful way: Firstly, the application of AI in the innovation process of Business Units will lead to new business models. This is the more obvious field of action in which AI is already being strongly pushed. The second field is a little hidden because it affects the internal processes: the company’s IT. If we manage to also benefit from AI here, e.g. for the automation of processes or implementation of a self learning system for the service management, then this would open up entirely new perspectives for the IT.

AI will therefore not only be a change driver in terms of new business models from the perspective of the markets but will also transform Continental from inside out. Because even the best IT can become more efficient and impactful through AI.

How do we plan to make use of AI at Continental?

To ensure a successful implementation of AI in both of the mentioned fields we need a strategy to use AI within the company in a sustainable and ethical way – today and in the future, for the company and the people. What we surely know: change is going to come.

AI readiness is a term that stands for the needed stage of maturity of the system and the competencies that go hand in hand with reaching this stage. It is a holistic and systemic view on AI. AI readiness will not only be the implementation of a new system, it will also profoundly transform existing systems, in an evolutionary as well as a disruptive way.

Imagine wanting to transform a horse-drawn carriage into an autonomous car. Removing the coachmen and the horses will not be enough here.

The transformation we are aiming for has not been successfully completed by a traditional industrial company so far. Often discussed companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (=FAANG) cannot really be a model for us since their core business has always evolved around the topic of data, knowledge and AI as opposed to Continental.

As a consequence, many things are new to us and in some fields we do not have any experience yet. But in the future we want to be leading.

For us this means: “Up front is where no one knows his way around.” This has to be accepted.

How we want to become the Future IT.

We, the IT, are courageous and have big ideas for the future. Our vision in the context of Artificial Intelligence is: “As a trusted partner of the Business for AI Technology, IT provides innovation and services which are driven by data, empowered by AI and led by human professionals.”

Hereby we are supporting the overall objective: “Continental IT will be an internal data driven and AI empowered service provider by 2025.”

How do we plan to succeed in this?

We want to realize our vision in several stages to lay the foundations and involve the affected people (AI Readiness) while at the same time showing first achievements and paving the way to the digital company of the future (AI Integration).

AI readiness is answering the key question:

What do we have to clarify, know and be able to do in order to add value for Continental and its people while ensuring an appropriate, ethical and successful usage of AI and its data?

The core aspects of AI Readiness are:

The eight success factors for an AI ready company
  • Communication & Awareness – “What is AI and what does it mean to me?”
  • People, Roles & Development – “How can I change for the better?”
  • Service Orientation – “A world becomes service”
  • Knowledge Management – “How do we keep everybody informed?”
  • Knowledge Management 2.0 – “If Continental knew what Continental knows”
  • KI Governance (Standards for an ethical, effective and efficient system of the future)
  • AI Dashboard – “What is the real benefit of the technology and what is the current status?”
  • Innovation Management – “How do we transform ideas into business success?”
  • Ethics – “Should we put it into practice because we could?”
  • Management of Change
  • Partner – Who can help and support us to further drive AI Readiness?

The aspects mentioned above are an integral part of the current AI strategy at Continental. We are aware of the importance and impact that this topic will have. We are convinced that the question is not whether we should walk this way. The question is rather: Are we fast enough?

The future will be determined by the cooperation of humans and machines where the digital colleague (e.g. assistance systems, ChatBot) is part of the team. This way, we have the chance to be more human in the future that we are today at times. Intelligent systems give us very valuable things: They give us time and space for personal communication and interaction, for creativity, innovation and thinking outside the box. And these are the truly intelligent traits that characterize us as humans.

Humans and machines will complement each other in the future – not work against each other.
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Theresa Schreyer

Theresa is just at the beginning of her still young career and therefore open to new perspectives, which gives her an advantage in comparison to experienced colleagues. Because fresh from university thinking big and without a company biased views allows some new chance-giving perspectives. Her current task at Continental is not only a "job". Its the mission to to develop a transformative business concept for the trendsetting AI Technology - the so called AI ready Enterprise or "AI Readiness". Which gives her and the company a skyrocketing position within the business world of tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “Human & Machine

  1. Thanks Theresa for writing this article.

    I truly believe that AI is critical and as you said it is an integral part of the business for most of the companies to succeed in today’s environment.

    You mentioned eight success factors for AI driven company. In addition to that, I also feel that an open data sharing is an important part to be an AI driven company.

    Data, knowledge and AI driven companies have increased focus in the given areas due to their ability to effectively use data in many different fashion. Example, Google using news data to build text analytics.

    One learning from this is to transform our company to enable data sharing. From this I meant, data to be easily available within the company. This will enable innovation and will surpass our imagination to fast growth. This would also allow everyone in the company to interpret data in their ways. I feel this is a positive way to get different perspective to the same data leading to innovation.

    What I haven’t mentioned is “what is data” . This can be street recordings, HR data, manufacturing data etc. So the place where we would eye innovation via AI is the place we need data sharing.

    If we are able to create an ecosystem of sharing this data easily and allowing people to build knowledge using the data, this would without a doubt build a strong environment for innovation, growth and transformation.

    1. Hello Sudhir,
      thank you for your constructive comment!
      I absolutely agree with you in your demand for sharing data. We see this in our two Success Factors “Knowledge Management” and “Transparency”. Therefore we understand, that it is necessary to make all knowledge visible (transparency) and reuseable to gain value from all data. To break data and knowledge silos and transform data streams into clouds, is the challenge we are facing. But overall we should not forgett to also keep Data securtiy concerns out of focus.

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