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McLaren: shifting the gears to drive technology forward across the business

Automotive 1

There are few industries as innovative as motor sport and few businesses as forward thinking as the McLaren Technology Group.

Starting out as a Formula 1 racing team, McLaren has evolved into one of the world’s foremost providers of new technology and branched out into diverse sectors, such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, transportation and consumer brands.

At the recent Cloud Europe Expo in London, I heard first hand from McLaren’s CIO, Craig Charlton, who explained their IT strategy which runs across the group and encompasses five pillars; cloud, business platforms, managed risk, people centricity and partners.

For McLaren, adoption of the cloud is about much more than just cost reduction. Rather it is an enabler for the whole group that supports business platforms being rolled out across the entire brand estate.

In terms of managed risk, technology is deployed to mitigate the threat of cyber-attacks, while business systems are made accessible for all with the organisation.

But the perhaps the biggest element of McLaren’s strategy is its approach to partners, especially NTT Communications, which provides IT infrastructure for the group. In this regard, IT systems are rapid, robust and responsive so that the racing team can put a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network up on a Wednesday in another country and take it down the following Monday, ready for the next race weekend.

A formula for success

You might think that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a new concept to the automotive industry that came about over the last couple of years, and has since changed customer expectations as well as the supply chain. Not so for McLaren, who has been attaching internet enabled sensors to racing cars since 1993 to send information back to the race and development teams. Indeed, since the 90s, the McLaren F1 team has generated 1 trillion data points.

Racing cars for the road

McLaren has a successful automotive sector with a number of premium road going models, such as the 720s, which were launched at the Geneva Motor Show this month. The group has 80 dealerships across the world, all of which are focused on delivering brand experience for its high-value customers.

For example, for those who take their McLaren on a racing track, it can be put on test drive mode by chief test driver, Chris Goodwin, and then controls can be gradually turned off to see how much they have improved.

Motoring ahead and securing the future

McLaren’s Applied Technology unit now works in range of industries and has helped the likes of Specialized bicycles and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital on the subject of human telemetry as well as predictive maintenance for train companies.

However, while McLaren is confident its IT systems are fit for purpose and meet security criteria, Charlton did point out that his biggest challenge and focus is in educating staff on the importance of secure processes.

In this regard, McLaren is a company that thrives on innovation and technology but recognises the importance of its staff; from the lead racing driver to office janitor, they all have a part to play in fuelling the McLaren’s brand machine.

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