BMW Using IBM Predictive Analytics in Auto Production, Repairs

German luxury carmaker BMW uses IBM big data and analytics technology to help detect and fix vulnerabilities in automobiles before new models are launched.

IBM announced that car manufacturer BMW Group is using IBM big data and analytics technology to optimize products, repairs and maintenance.

Big Blue made the announcement at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover, Germany, noting that BMW is using IBM predictive analytics to help to detect and fix vulnerabilities before new models are launched–and long before they might cause problems in series production. The analyses include product and development data as well as warranty, diagnostics and repair information that is gathered and evaluated worldwide.

With IBM’s technology, BMW obtains valuable insights from the large amounts of data generated from the product design and production process. Analyses that often used to take several months are available within a few days now, so that potential issues are detected and fixed swiftly to avoid recurring faults, IBM said.

The IBM SPSS predictive analytics software helps to combine and analyze data from, for instance, numerous test drives of prototypes, an average of 15,000 faults recorded by vehicles, and details from recent workshop reports. This way, vulnerabilities can be quickly identified and eliminated before new models go into series production. The results of the analyses are immediately channeled back into the operational processes, helping to reduce error rates and save costs. Previously, the evaluation of this data took months to complete, the company said.

Moreover, using IBM big data and analytics technology, all available data sources can be analyzed to discover patterns and anomalies to predict and anticipate maintenance needs. And due to the targeted evaluation of product, maintenance and repair data, repair instructions can be issued on a timely basis, reducing the number of workshop visits and speeding up repair times.

Another benefit is the automation of certain analyses, since different business divisions and subsidiaries often have similar analytics queries. For these recurring questions there is now a solution that can be used to provide answers to a range of queries. Approximately 250 of these analytics applications are now available, enabling more than 500 users from BMW Group to perform their own analyses. The proportion of analytics provided on a “self service” basis is rising continuously, also since the analyses are easy to carry out.

IBM has completed more than 30,000 analytics client engagements and projects $20 billion in business analytics and big data revenue by 2015. IBM has established the world’s deepest portfolio of analytics solutions; deploys 9,000 business analytics consultants and 400 researchers, and has acquired more than 30 companies since 2005 to build targeted expertise in this area.

In the company’s 2013 annual report, released this week, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said the company is focusing on big data, cloud and systems of engagement as key growth targets for 2014.

Noting that the market for data and analytics is estimated at $187 billion by 2015, Rometty, in a letter to shareholders, said, “To capture this growth potential, we have built the world’s broadest and deepest capabilities in big data and analytics—both technology and expertise. We have invested more than $24 billion, including $17 billion of gross spend on more than 30 acquisitions. We have 15,000 consultants and 400 mathematicians. Two-thirds of IBM Research’s work is now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing. IBM has earned 4,000 analytics patents. We have an ecosystem of 6,000 industry partners and 1,000 university partnerships around the world developing new, analytics-related curricula.”

The company’s data and analytics portfolio includes decision management, content analytics, planning and forecasting, discovery and exploration, business intelligence, predictive analytics, data and content management, stream computing, data warehousing, information integration and governance, Rometty said.

Earlier this year, IBM established a new Big Data and Analytics business unit, headed by IBM senior vice president Bob Picciano. In a recent interview with eWEEK, Picciano said among the first moves the group must make is to “make sure the marketplace understands our capabilities in being able to curate information for advanced analytics and problem solving. Last year we steadily introduced into the market several new capabilities to allow people to have more confidence in using big data technology to get their arms around the information they have inside of their business and then apply analytics to all that information.”

IBM secures hundreds of patents a year in big data and analytics, and converts this deep intellectual capital into breakthrough capabilities, including discoveries such as its Watson cognitive computing system. The company has established a global network of nine analytics solutions centers and goes to market with more than 27,000 IBM business partners.

“When we talk about capabilities like Watson we really are talking about delivering those insights as a service to our clients,” Picciano said. “In that type of a model, being able to curate the information necessary to help our clients get the highest quality insight is growing in terms of its relevance.”