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Revolutionizing mobility with apps

What does an IT project manager actually do? Jörn Gröticke knows: Together with specialists from Wolfsburg and Berlin, he works on the development of innovative mobility services – making driving easier for all of us.

“If it’s not crazy, I’m not interested” is written in capital letters, and in English, on a wall in the office of the Berlin digital agency Aperto – and at least twice a week Jörn Gröticke, IT Project Manager at Volkswagen, walks past this provocative and motivating motto. With a team of programmers, designers and concept developers he works on ideas awaking a “yes – I’m really interested in that” in every Volkswagen driver.

Was macht ein IT-Projektmanager bei Volkswagen? Jörn Gröticke weiß es: Als solcher arbeitet er mit Softwareentwicklern, Ingenieuren der elektronischen Entwicklung und Testern in Berlin und Wolfsburg zusammen, deren Aufgabe darin besteht, innovative Mobilitätsdienste zu entwickeln. Ein Jobportrait.

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Mit Apps die Mobilität revolutionieren

Jörn Gröticke at his workplace in Berlin, where the ‘We Experience’ service is programmed. The Berlin team sits in the rooms of the digital agency Aperto in Berlin-Mitte, where Gröticke commutes twice a week to, from Wolfsburg

“My job is phenomenal because here we have the opportunity to link our vehicles to the digital world in a beneficial way,” explains IT project manager Jörn Gröticke, who has been with Volkswagen since 2000. “The great thing is that we use the vehicle data directly for our applications. As a manufacturer, we have access to it. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for us to develop digital services for our customers.”

For the current project, Jörn Gröticke has been working for almost two years with different teams at two locations, between which he commutes. In Wolfsburg, these are the specialists from electronic vehicle development, quality assurance and broad-based testing. In Berlin, the core team is supported by software developers, IT system architects and testers from the digital agency Aperto and IBM. Together they are working on what thousands of drivers will soon be using: ‘We Experience’.

  • More information about the new Car.Software Unit

    The five core areas of the new software organization

    Volkswagen AG intends to bundle more than 5,000 digital experts in its new “Car.Software” unit with Group responsibility for software in the vehicle by 2025. The company plans to develop significantly more software in the car and for vehicle-related services itself and to increase its own share from less than 10 percent today to at least 60 percent by 2025.

    In the future, there will be a standardized Group-wide software platform with all basic functions for all Group vehicles – consisting of the “vw.os” operating system and the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud. By 2025, all the Group’s new models are to run on this software platform. The first vehicle to be based on this software platform is the ID.31.

An app that really makes life easier

A free coffee with a full tank of fuel? Such offers are included in the service ‘We Experience’. Jörn Gröticke, IT project manager at Volkswagen, demonstrates on a test drive through Berlin how this works. The result: delicious and hot – and the fuel tank is full also

‘We Experience’ is a service within the smartphone ‘We Connect Go’ app, and can also be found as a web app in the infotainment systems of many Volkswagen vehicles (starting from Discover Media Gen. 3.1). With ‘We Experience’, users receive personalized tips and recommendations from restaurants, shops or petrol stations in the vicinity – including discount vouchers and small gifts such as free cups of coffee.

One job – three workplaces

“Actually, I have three workplaces,” says Jörn Gröticke. Adding with a smile: “Besides Wolfsburg – on three days, and Berlin on two days – there’s also the high-speed ICE train.” He enjoys the commute and thanks to WiFi on the train and the fast connection – from Wolfsburg you’re in Berlin in a good hour – it’s neither exhausting nor lost working time.

“For me, it is important that I change locations regularly in order to get in direct contact with my colleagues. It’s about clarifying open questions together and tackling contentious issues,” explains the IT project manager. For example? “The broad test, in which I have to make sure I get enough vehicles for tests under everyday conditions – that can only happen in Wolfsburg. I then have to be in Berlin for the actual development. There it’s often about problems that have to do with the backend and that I have to discuss with those responsible.” 

Working on the “Holy Grail”

Jörn Gröticke working on the test-rack in the Berlin office. Here the features of “We Experience” are tested before they are installed on a vehicle

What will be simple and convenient for the user will require extensive development work “before the customer sees it,” explains Jörn Gröticke. “An essential part of this work takes place on the ‘Holy Grail’. This is what we jokingly call the test-rack, thanks to which we are able to test our service without leaving the office. The test-rack – a kind of infotainment system removed from the car and including all controls – is not accessible to everyone. Even the office dog, Shadow, cannot simply enter the specially secured room in which the hardware is located. The windows of the room are also taped so that no one can spy on the apps being developed here using binoculars. “Only when new functions have been tested here does step two follow and we test it in a vehicle. We’re currently using a Volkswagen Arteon for this.”

A job as a permanent challenge

Jörn Gröticke is working on the future of mobility – and how does his own look like at Volkswagen? “I certainly want to manage projects that are important to people in ten years’ time. This is precisely why Volkswagen is an interesting company for me: the Group offers a broad spectrum of opportunities, especially in the digital environment.” The diversity of opportunities is based on the new Board of Management responsibility for “Digital Car & Services” at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, and even more so on the new “Car Software” unit that Volkswagen Group is building up. In this way, the company intends to increase its performance in the digitization of its vehicles. In the future, the “Car.Software” unit will bring together the digital development competencies in the brands to a greater extent and bundle essential parts of the software development for all vehicles in the Group.  Jörn Gröticke: “We need this focus on software and digitization in the company. Admittedly, I am also tempted by the challenge of not leaving the field of digital mobility products to other companies. It’s simply great to bring new mobility services to customers that were created entirely in-house.”

Fuel consumption

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