Friedrichshafen. With its "Next Generation Mobility" strategy, ZF is setting its sights on digitalization as the crucial innovation determinant for the mobility of tomorrow. Exemplifying an inventive and expanded product portfolio, and an enhanced corporate culture, yesterday’s ZF Digital Convention at Messe Friedrichshafen offered employees a wide range of presentations, workshops and lively discussions centered on digital transformation. ZF actively promotes an open, inspiring environment to encourage employees to think like entrepreneurs and contribute creative ideas for innovative products and business models.
ZF’s ambitious future vision is clean and safe mobility that is automated, comfortable, affordable and accessible to everyone, everywhere, around the globe. Digitalization plays a central role: “It enables us to offer our products on a networked basis, comprehensively across diverse customer sectors,” said Mamatha Chamarthi, Chief Digital Officer at ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “To retain our leadership, ZF made an early decision to move both the Group and all its system solutions to the next evolutionary level in terms of digitalization".
A crucial factor in this process, in addition to technological expertise, is an open corporate culture that offers space to develop new ideas. “Successful digital transformation begins in the minds of the employees,” explains Arwed Niestroj, Vice President of the Digital Transformation and Global Innovation Hubs. “We have 146,000 potential digital innovators at ZF. To realize this potential to its fullest extent, we want to create an environment that integrates each individual and encourages them to think like entrepreneurs – to be curious and to have confidence in their own ideas".
In the “new” ZF, digital entrepreneurship is part of the daily culture
This transformation includes events such as yesterday’s ZF Digital Convention, a platform for idea exchange and a source of inspiration for ZF employees. In addition to ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider, external keynote speakers such as Rob Csongor, Vice President of Autonomous Machines at NVIDIA, Maks Giordano, Managing Director of the kreait digital agency, and Jonathan Bertfield from The Lean Startup Co. provided incisive insights into digital transformation. Representatives from various ZF divisions then presented their digitalization projects and strategies in short conceptual speeches. Following those, participants exchanged ideas with project teams on the drive.digital marketplace or joined workshops where they were able to immerse themselves in various aspects of digital transformation.
The event ended with an internal “pitch night” that impressively demonstrated the breadth of creativity and talent possessed by ZF employees. It marked the end of this year’s Group-wide "Digital Innovation Challenge" for the European region, in which employees were invited to submit their ideas in four main categories: "Digital Products and Services," "Industry 4.0," "Digital Business Models" and "Culture & Workplace". At each “pitch night”, finalists presented their concepts to a high-profile jury, consisting of ZF executives, Board Members, and experienced inventors. Funded winners have the opportunity to develop their ideas into what is termed “minimum viable product.” Last year, for example, the Digital Innovation Challenge elicited "Sound.AI", a sound recognition system empowering future vehicles to ‘hear’.
As part of this year’s Digital Innovation Challenge, a pitch event for the Americas was held at the ZF location in Farmington Hills, Michigan, on November 1st. Two more events for the Asian region are planned in Shanghai and Hyderabad for the end of November and mid-December.