The F1 data race
McLaren is more than just an inspiring
Formula One team, it is also a world-leading developer of electronics for automotive and motorsport industries, and in recent years it has become a luxury sports car manufacturer. Read the full interview here.
May 15, 2015
1. On track, in business and in technology
"Formula One racing is and will always be a core area of activity for us. Racing fuels our competitive spirit, it is our crucible of innovation, it enables us to attract the world's best engineers, scientists and data analysts, and the enormous popularity of Formula One provides a unique global marketing platform. We exist to win, and nothing will ever divert McLaren Racing's focus away from that ambition."
2. British Formula 1 leader McLaren has put technology at the heart of its operations
"It's a tough world when you are not winning. It is a public test in front of 170 million people and F1 is a very harsh environment," Birrell says of the extreme public focus of running a Formula One team. "You pin your colours to the thing."
3. The F1 data race
SAP Hana underpins our ERP and is used in finance, purchase and materials. All of my P&L sits on Hana. The automotive business went live in Q1 of 2015 and we are wall to wall. It is still opening up different ways of thinking about things, so we are looking at the reporting and business decisions in a different way that is more iterative."
4. Data driven
"We run the races live from here. As we have deep analytics, we can use that in the race to support real-time decision making, so it's about scenario planning as the decision making in the race is which scenario to use. The capacity these people have to do multiple things at high speed is incredible."
5. McLaren CIO uses SAP's HANA to scale
"It's a great team effort. When you are making decisions using incomplete data, you have to do it in a calm environment. You cannot do that in the heat of Abu Dhabi. We pull all the data here on a Sunday afternoon and spin up 350 million simulations on a cloud platform during the race so that we can predict the outcome based on many scenarios and ever-changing reality."
6. 3,000 data parameters
"There are 3,000 data parameters that we log for every lap. We can go back 10 years; that is Big Data. So we are looking at history to predict the future. From an engineering view, if you have good real car performance data, wind tunnel data and simulation data, you can start to predict how a component will act on the car before it is made, so a development takes two hours rather than three weeks."
7. The ability to make decisions
"That was the bit that fascinated me when I joined, the ability to make decisions on scenarios already considered, so that the real-time decision making is working out what scenario to use."
8. Pioneered a lot of the data and analytics
"We have pioneered a lot of the data and analytics. The Olympic work was about instrumenting the human being and measuring physical effort or deformations of a foot, and how you can then get values from that information. It was very successful and we have a great relationship with Team GB."
9. Internet of Things and Big Data
"It's very lucrative the Internet of Things and Big Data, but they are pointless as terms and they annoy me. It's about taking some business intelligence so that your operations guys can use it and generate business value,"
10. Sales rep
"We all have to help with the sponsorship. It's fascinating and a great way to learn the business as you see the partnerships in marketing. So in discussions with vendors I have to turn salesman, as when people come to see us to sell an application, the tables turn."