Current trends in Automotive with Tomas Zakal, Sales & Consulting Director for Automotive at Trask

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The automotive sector has been an important keystone in our history since the 19th century. Gradual technological developments in this area constantly bring new inputs that need to be considered, applied, and adapted to. What should companies focus on now, when digital technology is in the spotlight?

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Hi Tomas, how long have you been working at Trask?

I’ve been part of our exciting journey in automotive for more than 10 years. A couple of years ago, Trask decided to scale globally, bringing our expertise to new automotive clients, and I think it’s the right move. I have personally been involved in scaling our presence at Skoda Auto to the current level, where we are their biggest IT supplier. And our recent rapid growth outside the Czech Republic has given us confidence that we are now ready to scale globally.

I believe technological progress in the industry is clear in terms of history, but do you see any highlights, such as the advent of the internet in digital era?

For almost 20 years, Trask has been innovating the automotive industry, which is now undergoing a massive change. For the last few decades, we have been talking about evolution of the car as an engineering product. This is now changing dramatically – so the real milestones we are witnessing now are EVs and cars being software-defined. Traditional OEMs are also heavily challenged by the newcomers what are no longer engineering focused, but software and services oriented. These rivals have the advantage of not having legacy architectures to deal with, which is a huge benefit.

Don’t miss out: Unplanned downtime on the busiest line? No longer the case at Skoda Auto thanks to Trask.

And what are the trending topics you see at this moment, with the new era of technologies?

Before I dive into the fancy topics, let’s start with something basic. If you want to innovate properly, you need to get rid of legacy first. Therefore, application modernization is my first topic. Specifically, we are now focused on migrating complex mainframe applications to the cloud, delivering architecture redesigns on the fly. As an example, we migrated a key master data management system for VW Group from a mainframe to AWS in just 6 months.

Cybersecurity is an issue that no one can ignore, and I am no exception. Among many other topics, our cybersecurity team is currently designing and implementing Zero Trust architectures. In manufacturing, it’s not just about business systems, but also about the shop floor IT. One would say that Zero Trust is a solved case, but only 30% of automotive companies actually have it in place.

Now let’s talk about business. Everyone wants to be as close to the client as possible. That is why the direct sales model is a high-priority topic. Trask is at the center of this hype. In the past, we have built key online digital touchpoints, such as the Car Configurator, and combined them with AI-based recommendation engines. This builds a solid foundation for any direct sales initiative. Imagine being able to turn millions of car configurations made daily through a car configurator into a strong direct sales funnel. That would be a gamechanger.

My last topic for today is the Digital Twin. I believe you must be specific to generate value from a Digital Twin. Therefore, we are currently focusing on the Digital Twin of a production line. By doing that, we have managed to check the data consistency of car production data 38 hours before actual production starts. This is a huge benefit and money-saver.

Can you compare the domestic market with the foreign market? What are the main differences from your point of view?

So far, there have not been many governmental subsidies for EVs in the Czech Republic, which slows down the market penetration of EVs. I don’t necessarily see this as a problem, owing to that fact our domestic market indicates the real state, not something artificially boosted. See how the numbers of EVs sold in Germany have dropped after subsidies were suspended recently.

The good news is that digital innovations and simply clever solutions and services are a high priority, We see that on a daily basis at Skoda.

Do you have any other recommendations on what companies should primarily focus on these days?

You might think I’ve missed many important topics in this interview and you’re right. I’m saving topics like connected cars, digital fleet services, second-life battery processes, smart regulations, and much more for next time.


Tomas Zakal
Sales & Consulting Director for Automotive

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