Outsourcing Journal

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Home Markets and locationsAfrica and Middle East Interview – Software Development for BMW in North Africa

Interview with Dr. Andreas Bootz, Department Head E/E System Design and Integration at BMW Group – Outsourcing is not a new concept, but in times of large digital transformations and where technical talent and resources are scares, companies are factually forced to extend their in-house information technology capacities and even expertise via co-operaions with external technology partners outside of their home markets.

Often the conversation is around the question Where? such partners can be found, but actually this is not a question of priority.

More important are factors like knowledge, expertise, experiences and conditions. And when putting the question after the location in the back‐ground, the view widens instantly. An example of how less the country or the phys‐ ical location of technology partners actually matters for the results is the recent co-operation between BMW Group and two IT development companies in Tunisia, because Tunisia would perhaps not have been a very obvious choice for possible locations for the development of a small but critical software component for the new BMW e-SUV’s.

We have had the chance to talk to Dr. Andreas Bootz from BMW who initiated a co- operation with the external IT partners in Tunisia.

Dr. Bootz, could you give us a quick introduction to the cooperation with the local companies and the type of projects you’ve been initiating with the Tunisian IT develop‐ ment partners?

Together with our own driving dynamics and IT development department and two Tunisian partners, we started in March 2020 to develop a digital tyre diagnosis solution, which has been available to our customers in the new i4 and iX as part of the My BMW app for several days. So it was about a real digital “product fore customer”.

I took from our conversation, that it was not entirely a decision of profit orientation to look for IT development partners specifically in Tunisia. I think this is very interest‐ ing. Could you elaborate a little on the way this project was initiated?

The impulse for us came from a joint initiative with the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and the focus was initially on sustainability. Sustainability is not just a trend for us and we work with our responsibility for societies and a sustainable development in mind.

In our concrete example it also means that we open up new sup‐ plier markets. This was the reason for our engagement in Tunisia. But, we have also pushed this commitment after our observation that Tunisia is a supplier market with many qualified IT engineers and therefore saw it as an opportunity for our company.

From your perspective as product developer, how did you experience the co-operation and which aspects stood out for you?

We started off with a very positive in‐ troduction, where our intitial expectations have been exceeded. The already existing and established supplier relationships between French and Tunisian companies are a good foundation for professional co‐operation for many suppliers. For example some companies have met the required standards for data se‐ curity in advance. And the development processes also achieve high standards. In addition, the language barrier was also lower than expected.

Apart from that, it was also important for us that our suppliers meet the same environmental and social standards by which we measure ourselves.

As expected with new suppliers, the Tunisian partners also had a first challenge in qualifying for our internal processes. In addition, a supplier must be able to manage a project independently and develop solutions. In this context, it is helpful if a project manager of the supplier already has experience in Germany. Besides these operational and management skills we were also looking for a specific technical skill set tat included artificial intelligence, data science and data analytics to app de‐ velopment, cloud computing and cloud services.

Think-IT one of the Tunisian project partners sais about itself on its LinkedIn page: “Founded in 2017, Think-it is home to a high-performing and diverse team of changemakers in Germany, Tunisia, and around the world — including 8+ nationalities and 40% women. We are enthusiastically committed to inclusivity and ethical technology in our collective, part‐ ner teams, and mission-aligned investor networks.”

Weivoo, the other tech partner for the project comes with 22 years of business expereinces, … “ Wevioo employs more than 300 talents and business experts. Present in Paris, Dubai, Tunis, Algiers and Abidjan, We‐ vioo has several hundred demanding projects in more than 30 countries in Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. As a committed partner, Wevioo provides its customers with digital innovation solutions perfectly adapted to their challenges of agility, performance and international development.”

Based on more than 50 sources we provide with this Outsourcing Destination Guide Tunisia information, data and insights into the Tunisian ICT sector. Which advice would you give other companies that are currently looking for IT development partners in Tunisia for a successful co-operation?

It is challenging for any company to take the first concrete step and make a selection of the right potential partners for a project. We have taken ad‐ vantage of the support of the tech216 team. This enabled us to get a good impression of the Tunisian IT ecosystem and to start direct discussions with established IT companies and young start-ups and were also visiting the ESPRIT University.

Following the first introductions, we held direct discussions on specific projects with a pre-selection of seven IT companies. Several of these companies then made the leap into the bidding circle and two of them were commissioned. This shows how valuable it can be to prepare this first step with a local partner. I would recommend this to anyone.

Thank you for this interview.

The interview was conducted by Stephan Fricke, CEO at German Outsourcing Association.