Cloud-Based Platform Gives Shape (And Wheels) To German Data-Sharing Alliance

supply chain data

Data can be a competitive tool, on a global scale. To that end, a data-sharing alliance is taking shape in Europe focused on the auto industry.

As Bloomberg reported this week, BMW is linking up with tech firms such as SAP and industrial company Siemens, and engineering and suppliers such as Robert Bosch and ZF Friedrichshafen to build a cloud-based data exchange platform. Telecom firm Deutsche Telekom is also participating in the project — where, as the news outlet noted, the platform will not use technology from the U.S. or from China (meaning: no hosts such as Amazon). The platform’s purpose is to enable German firms — the automakers and the companies that supply them — to pinpoint friction in supply chains.

Resolving those pain points takes on a special urgency when supply chains stretch across borders and a lengthening path of goods production. In a separate interview with Karen Webster, Dr. Paul Sheard, senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in how goods travel from raw material to finished product to the final point of the chain — end consumers.

“The idea that supply chains could be disrupted because goods may stop flowing or borders may close — we didn’t really need to worry about that too much in the past,” noted Sheard. Reshoring may not be the wholesale pivot that some may expect (or be as fully realized as some may expect, either).

Tech-enabled supply chain solutions can help pinpoint where items are in the process of production and transportation, from raw material to last mile. Tracking things in real time — and knowing where delays may be happening — can help companies pivot and react quickly to compensate.

This time around, with the German automotive data alliance, the effort will “ensure value-added manufacturing and employment in Europe are secured,” German economy minister Peter Altmaier said in a statement, as Bloomberg reported.

That language, we contend, seems to point to at least some of the principles underpinning the new changes looming in Europe when it comes to data collection and sharing. Those rules, part of what will be known as the Digital Markets Act, would ensure that tech companies, including platform-focused firms (especially ones with dominant market positions), would face mandates on data use.

And separately, as reported earlier this year, and at a high level, the European Commission is planning a single European market for data. That data market would embrace manufacturing and industrial information flows — and would challenge U.S. tech firm dominance.

“The battle for industrial data starts now and Europe will be the main battlefield. Europe has the largest industrial base. The winners of today will not be the winners of tomorrow,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton told a news conference in January. Breton said the plan’s cornerstone calls for the creation of a €2 billion EU cloud platform alliance. Other proposals would include directives governing use of data across borders and data interoperability, as PYMNTS reported.


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