What is the day-to-day life of a Data Office Head?
At SEAT SA, as part of being the CEO and CTO of SEAT:CODE, I was appointed Head of the Data Office in August 2020. The aim was to defend data as a high-value asset for our company. I needed to oversee data decision-making to reduce costs, increase revenue, and devise new business models.
In the first twelve months, I led a team of ten people. We took a “guerrilla” approach to discover opportunities for short-term profitability. The team also developed a strategy for licensing data to strategic partners, such as road infrastructure companies and insurance companies, with an expected revenue of 10 million euros per year.
What value does your work and the work of your team hold for a company like SEAT? What impact does it have on the business?
The vehicle revolution isn’t just about the technology that moves the wheels. An important aspect of the new era is the data received through systems including stability control, ABS, and GPS. Tens of GB of data each day can be used to improve infrastructure and road safety.
The specialized team at the SEAT Data Office is responsible for collecting and processing the large volume of information that we could define as Big Data. The objective is to use the data to improve internal processes, reduce costs, define future strategies, and devise new business models. Through analysis we can detect use cases that help everyone. We are lucky at SEAT S.A. because we have a very significant volume of data, allowing us to make a contribution to road safety in an open way.
The data is anonymised. In other words, any references to the identity of the person who generated the information have been eliminated. We view the data as a whole. This means we can identify which roads are less illuminated and share this information so that infrastructure management companies can identify lighting black spots.
What digital tools or technologies do you think have been key to the new work paradigm?
Self-driving cars, robots, and software and machines that help us make predictions are already normal in the automotive sector. The introduction of more and more digitalization to the company and the harnessing of data provides an opportunity for learning and the continued optimisation, adaptation, and improvement of processes
There is a debate about whether technology will eliminate certain jobs. What do you think about this?
They don’t necessarily take away from each other. If you know how to complement your operation with the power of artificial intelligence, data, algorithms, and algorithm learning, you will be able to grow faster and improve your ability to focus on details. In our case, data analysis has allowed SEAT S.A. to implement predictive maintenance. We are able to reorganize ourselves to minimize stops, optimise time spent, and advance forward to unforeseen destinations.
There is a lot of talk about telecommuting, the hybrid model, and even digital nomads. What is the optimal work model? What does it involve? And what role does technology play?
The changes in the work environment in the last two years have been numerous, but they can be summed up in a word that is repeated in all companies: flexibility.
Telecommuting during the pandemic has opened the eyes of many companies to the benefits of hybrid work, something that was already normal in the software environment. The pandemic has demonstrated on a global level the ability of employees to work effectively in different ways and from different locations. As a consequence, most companies are now betting on hybrid work models that allow them to return flexibly. The change in the labour model has come hand in hand with digitalization. New technologies are transforming the world of work. Without the use of technology, this would not have been possible.
At SEAT:CODE we live under the “Remote First” philosophy, an attractive claim for many of our experts, a large number of whom live outside Barcelona. Even so, our headquarters are located on Las Ramblas, an emblematic location that also attracts many professionals from outside of Spain.
What are the necessary skills to hold a position in the digital environment? Is there training available? What role does the company have in this process?
I come from the world of the internet. For many years I have been working at companies born in digital environments. Currently, digital transformation as a company strategy pushes employees to evolve. The necessary skills are based on an agile mentality that always sees technology as an ally.