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Making the car go faster through digital transformation

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07 July 2016

Global Services

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To celebrate this weekend’s British Grand Prix, we’ve taken this opportunity to open our blog to a special guest.

Pat Symonds, Chief Technical Officer at Williams Martini Racing, shares his thoughts on how BT’s partnership is adding to the team’s performance on and off the track.

Pat Symonds, CTO, Williams Martini Racing
Pat Symonds, CTO, Williams Martini Racing

For most organisations, time to market is vital to their competitiveness. Williams is no different. We’re an incredibly data rich and data driven company, with over 200 sensors on our cars and 1000 channels of information constantly being recorded. The ability to receive and analyse this data in real time, between the 21 race tracks around the globe and our headquarters in Oxfordshire, is what gives us a competitive edge. It allows us to make changes to the car from the trackside to optimise its performance and ultimately help it to go that bit faster.

BT provides a backbone for our analysis and communication.
Digital transformation touches all aspects of our production cycle. If we’ve designed a new component for the car and we can get it to Silverstone this weekend rather than for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of the month, we have an advantage over our rivals. The systems and network that BT provides are the backbone for this.

Supporting work life balance
Since we partnered with BT, I’ve noticed not just an improvement in the car’s performance, but also the way in which my team works together. The team working trackside no longer feel isolated from our analysts back at our HQ. The BT network gives us real time communication and the support of 500 people back at base as if we were all in the same location. As someone who has a duty of care to my team, the ability to work remotely in an efficient, real-time manner thousands of miles away from the source of the data we’re working with has helped everyone with their work life balance. I’m not saying the pressure is off, but my team are very pleased to go home to their families at the end of the day rather than to a hotel room near each track. The increased bandwidth also allows me to work from home as if I were trackside. I can join every meeting, speak to the drivers and work with my pit wall team as if I were stood next to them - all from my home study. In essence, BT allows us to improve upon the great work we’re doing.

Final thought
When I think back to before Williams partnered with BT and before having the connectivity we have now, the value we tried to add was purely in the hands at the team trackside. Now, it’s just like having an enormous team of 600 at the track as we can reallocate the work load to optimise those present at the track and the real analytics is carried out in Oxfordshire. We are collaborating as one team.

On a lighter note, I’ve noticed that the service providing my TV feed has a greater delay than the latency on my data, so while I’m watching the race and listening to the commentary, I already know what they’re going to say!

Learn more about our partnership with Williams Martini Racing.