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Digitalization, connectivity and new mobility-related services are among the key pillars of Strategy 2025. More extensive application of digital technologies to the car maker’s operations is the main goal of DigiLab, which was founded last year in Prague. The idea workshop accommodates creative teams researching and creating new business models. In cooperation with external partners, including several global technological start-ups, digital accelerators and universities as well as innovative companies (corporations and smaller businesses) ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab develops new methods and forms of work.

In the process key emphasis is laid on the collaboration with other workshops of the future within the VW Group in order to enable the other Group brands to benefit from the experience exchange and its results. “We want to build new digital business models, products and services,” says head of ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab Jarmila Plachá. “After all, you do not necessarily need to own a car to be mobile. That is why we
want to focus on various mobility solutions tailored to the customers’ needs.“

ŠKODA AUTO DIGILAB PROJECTS

At the moment we are working on over 40 global digital ideas and projects whose potential is being assessed by ŠKODA. These include not only global start-ups, where we are evaluating the extent to which an innovative and functional solution may be used for our customers, but also projects founded as new business models in cooperation with other partners. It focuses on solutions connected to mobility, for example Mobility with Care, Car-sharing and SmartParking.

MOBILITY WITH CARE

ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab combines mobility, care and social networks. Imagine you need to take care of your family members, whether grandparents or children. You need to be mobile, take them to a doctor’s appointment or their afternoon activities, but at the same time, you have to sort out something important at work. One solution is using a taxi, but do you really want to ask a grumpy taxi driver to take care of your nearest and dearest? A possible solution is a platform which allows you to use the service ‘mobility with care’, where you enter information about who you need to transport and where and the driver-caretaker handles everything for you. The driver-caretaker is a car owner, a private person who has been trained for providing this type of care. Anyone who applies and gets trained can become one. After you enter your request you choose from a list of drivers-caretakers (based on their evaluation and recommendations of people who have used the service before you) and pay for the time spent by the respective driver on taking care of your family members.

ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab (from the left): Slavomír Tuleja, Jarmila Plachá, Tomáš Žídek, Jan Edlman, Petra Hubačová, Martin Li, Miroslav Mráz and Martin Dobrý

CAR-SHARING

Looking for a hitch-hiker to help you pay for fuel, or a driver who will give you a cheap ride? Is this how you sort out your daily commute to work, school or other trips? Car-sharing brings company employees the opportunity to share their cars when going to and from work. The goal is using the combination of car-sharing demand and offer as well as working actively with the data generated in the respective project, while applying the elements of various motivation incentives. This is what makes car-sharing different from other solutions on the market. It uses the data actively and involves a series of other elements which can be utilized, in particular by employees commuting to the production plants on a daily basis.

SMARTPARKING

Trouble with finding a place to park close to your house? Do you wish to check the nearest vacant parking places before you leave for an appointment? All over the world there are numerous solutions for smart parking available and ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab is currently analyzing a specific project which uses mobile network data to help a user find a free space to park. This particular solution originated in a Czech start-up, but it is already being tested and has found commercial application in several European countries.

 

WHAT MAKES ŠKODA AUTO DIGILAB SO IMPORTANT?

It is the main digital platform of the ŠKODA brand – we wish to bring to the company new ideas from outside. We are planning collaboration with various start-ups, innovative companies, universities and talented individuals. We hope to ‘infect’ the entire company structure and its employees with our ideas and enthusiasm.

 

CAN A CAR MANUFACTURER EXIST WITHOUT DIGITAL SERVICES IN TODAY’S WORLD?

Perhaps, the best comparison could be one with the banking sector, where I spent more than ten years of my professional career. For instance, online banking was first offered by four biggest American banks in the 1980s. Today the service is provided by all banks, some of which are more or less Internet-based organizations with just a few branches and cash machines. Similar situation can be traced in the automotive

 

JARMILA PLACHÁ
HEAD OF ŠKODA AUTO DIGILAB
 
  
industry of today. The question is not whether to offer digital services to the customers or not, but at what speed. I am convinced
that this is a matter of survival and further successful growth of the automotive industry.