More than 80 participants attended ETAS Connections 2015, which took place at the Robert Bosch House in Stuttgart at the end of November.


ETAS Connections 2015 – Big data takes center stage

The theme of this year’s event was “Big data in automotive engineering – more than just a buzzword?

Six informative presentations followed by a panel discussion gave the participants – representatives from electronics and software development for the German automotive industry – the chance to explore answers to this question.

List of speakers:

  • Dr. Harald Straky
    Head of the Powertrain Services Calibration Methods and Tools Department at Robert Bosch GmbH
  • Andreas Klegraf
    Head of Product Management Integration and User Experience at ETAS GmbH
  • Professor Emmanuel Müller
    Head of the Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Research Group at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam
  • Markus Gretschmann
    Head of Technical Sales (worldwide) for Predictive Maintenance and Quality at IBM Analytics
  • Bernhard Schick
    Global Business Unit Manager at AVL List GmbH
  • Sri Krishnan Venkataraman
    Vice President Engineering Services at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Private Limited (RBEI)
  • Eike Martini
    Director Application at Continental Automotive GmbH.

The host for the evening was Alexander Vocelka, partner at Horváth & Partners Management Consultants and an expert on big data.

The first talk of the evening was given by Dr. Harald Straky together with Andreas Klegraf. It took them just a few minutes to make it clear that big data is definitely much more than a buzzword. Amazon, Facebook, and Google were all cited as examples of famous companies that owe their business success primarily to big data. The speakers compared this success to the future potential that big data holds for ECU development – predictive diagnostics, self-learning functions, higher quality, and enhanced efficiency were but a few of the opportunities mentioned.

Eike Martini built an analogy around the Stone Age to illustrate his take on big data. People have always hunted large animals. By dividing the spoils, they created manageable pieces that they could easily process and transport. This is similar to how we work with large volumes of data today. Typically, he said, measurements are saved locally in separate folders with no – or very little – explanation. But this approach doesn’t work for big data. He also pointed out that a major part of the big data discussion concerns the transfer of these huge amounts of data. Whoever finds a workable solution for this will most likely set the course for the future.

Each presentation was followed by a lively discussion with the audience, and it quickly became clear that it is possible to look at the topic of big data from all kinds of perspectives, some of which are controversial. Although everyone agreed that this topic will have a pivotal role to play in the future, the speakers differed greatly in their estimations of the timeline, scope, and ways in which big data will influence development processes. It was precisely this energy that made the event particularly special.

To address and delve deeper into these differences of opinion, ETAS Connections 2015 concluded with a panel discussion. Speakers Andreas Klegraf, Bernhard Schick, and Eike Martini were joined by

  • Dr. Bernd Bohr
    Member of Daimler AG’s Supervisory Board
  • Dr. Rainer Kallenbach
    Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Software Innovations
  • Peter Moll
    Head of Development at Bosch Corporate Sector Information Systems and Services.

The discussion once again examined big data from a number of different standpoints. In response to the question of whether big data should be regarded as an evolutionary or a disruptive innovation, Martini said: “Several aspects are certainly evolutionary, but a major rethink is inherently disruptive ­– just like any time a new mindset is required.” However, the panel discussion also served to shed light on the benefits of big data. “We see a wide range of benefits, especially as regards efficiency,” said Klegraf. He also touched on the role ETAS will play in the world of big data: “We can expect to do more measuring and already have a range of data analytics tools. Our plan is to close the toolchain. Since the demand is certainly there now, it’s crucial that we get started.” Schick also underlined the need for action: “Big data is a big issue – and offers great potential. However, with regards to vehicle development, it is at an early stage.” Dr. Kallenbach was looking ahead, too: “Today, the internet puts data at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. Our dream is to achieve that with technical data in the automotive sector, for instance from powertrains.” All participants agreed that involving users in implementation will prove decisive for big data and that taking a purely top-down approach would be a mistake. The goal is to show engineers the specific benefits of big data and how it can make their work easier.

It’s clear from both the panel discussion and the presentations that big data is the way of the future – and much more than a mere buzzword. ETAS Connections 2015 provided an exclusive platform for bringing together the various perspectives and facilitating an exchange of ideas among experts and an interested public. Indeed, the discussion of big data and related topics continued on throughout dinner. It was precisely this particular mix – expert presentations, a lively panel discussion, and an informal setting – that gave ETAS Connections 2015 its special flair. And what better setting could there be than the unique Bosch Haus Heidehof near the Robert Bosch House, former home of the founder of Robert Bosch GmbH.