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Themes from Bosch Connected World 2022: The Role of Cybersecurity in the Future of Digital

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The continued rise of digital comes with a series of changes, including a renewed emphasis on security.

I recently attended the Bosch Connected World conference, Bosch’s ninth annual event featuring state-of-the-art IoT and AI technologies, and shared my top takeaways from the tradeshow floor. You can check out my recap here.

Read on for part two of my recap, which will focus on themes from the keynote sessions, which were full of thought leadership and ideas of what to expect going forward.

On the main stage: The rise of digital and the changes it ushers in

During the main keynote session, Stefan Hartung, Bosch CEO, Oliver Spitze, BMW Chairman of the Board, and Andrew Ng, founder of Landing AI, delivered their vision for the future. The main ideas that emerged from their talks were present throughout the event, including four themes in particular:

Factories are going digital

This is not a surprise, but Hartung and Spitze emphasized how much they were investing in digitizing their industrial processes – or iFactories as BMW calls them. Specifically, they’re giving more and more weight to data science to optimize processes and support the virtualization of every tool and machine (Hartung even aims to abstract every machine and tool with a digital twin). 

They also spoke about introducing artificial intelligence to classify and analyze data. That said, Ng notes that AI needs democratizing to support the longtail of applications, as code and model customization are still too expensive when we move beyond areas like online retail, search engines, and autonomous driving, where AI rules today. In this regard, Ng advocates for data-centric AI as opposed to code/model-centric AI. Building on this idea, Spitze has committed to delivering “training in digital technology” to every BMW employee in 2023, regardless of their position.

The future of vehicles is electric

Again, this theme is not surprising since the recent decision from the European Parliament to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars and vans in 2035 is forcing the car industry to go electric. 

Of course, Tesla was never mentioned, but the benchmark of the new digital BMW car looks familiar: Always up-to-date with regular over-the-air software updates and best-in-class digital offerings for the user interface and driver assistance systems. Meanwhile, Bosch is investing in electrolyzers and fuel cells, betting on dihydrogen as a nice alternative to batteries.

Critically, when highlighting their companies’ technologies, both Spitze and Hartung stressed the importance of cybersecurity. According to Spitze, BMW takes responsibility for the cybersecurity of their vehicles across the entire lifecycle – not only the warranty period – and believes that “protecting the integrity of the vehicle and customer data comes before business.” He also noted that the car manufacturer should be the only one allowed to collect data inside the vehicle, which they can then share with technology partners and sub-system vendors as appropriate.

Software engineers are in demand

Although Bosch already employs an army of 40,000 software engineers, both Spitze and Hartung highlighted how important it would be to continue staffing their software teams in the near future. 

Spitze also announced a reorganization of BMW’s IT department to ensure IT is involved in every project across every business to harmonize SaaS and software development practices.

Sustainability is a must

Bosch Connected World was held a week before the United Nations climate change conference, COP27, and sustainability themes were front and center.

Both Hartung and Spitze recognized the importance of decarbonizing the car industry, which they noted starts at the factory using carbon-free energy and more sustainable materials. To that end, Hartung announced a partnership between Bosch and IBM that gives Bosch’s new material research teams access to IBM’s quantum computers to speed up their development. For example, he spoke about how this will drive more circular business models that optimize vehicle usage and value generation.

Security is now a priority as our connected world develops

Thanks to my time at Bosch Connected World, I left Berlin more knowledgeable about the immense complexity of the challenges that the automotive industry is addressing in its ongoing transformation. I also left the conference feeling very comforted by the ambitions of the regulations in place and the quality of the standards taking care of our safety and privacy. 

Additionally, I know that other IoT sectors – such as IIoT, medical, metering, home automation, and smart building – are currently deploying similar efforts to standardize best practices and drive efficiency and security. 

And all of this attention to safety makes a big difference. As a Keyfactor employee, I tend to watch everything through a cybersecurity filter, but I am nevertheless convinced that without trust between all these companies working together on such large projects, everything would eventually collapse. As a result, I was thrilled to see that cybersecurity remained a common thread among all innovation and thought leadership on display at Bosch Connected World.

Learn more

Want to learn more about Keyfactor’s end-to-end IoT identity platform, which enables manufacturers to embed device identity at design, maintain strong cryptographic protection and secure firmware and software updates throughout the device lifecycle? Check out the following resources: