A Few IT Questions to Tekin Gulsen

Tekin Gulsen joined Yazaki one and a half years ago − as Head of Global Applications and EMEA IT. He brings in more than 25 years of IT experience gained at other global companies. Some of his insights he shares with us in an interview for the “AI and I” campaign. 

Tekin, how would you describe what’s currently going on in IT and computing?

Today we are in a digital era with robotic automation, cloud computing, mobile technology, Artificial Intelligence [AI] and more. These trends that are reshaping the world around us are also reshaping our work. We just often don’t see this, when we are too focused on daily operations, busy firefighting issues ...

AI is the biggest driver of change, right?

ChatGPT and the likes are important, prominent elements of this change. But there’s much more to it. Just look at our kids using AI, mobile devices and social media as natives, see what’s going on at electric vehicles, new clean energies and sustainability initiatives, think of new ways of working and of the changing markets. These opportunities are all around us.

What exactly is the “digital part” in this transformation?

Today’s digital transformation is not about transferring analog data into digital format anymore, or about using a software like ERP systems [SAP]. Even if we acquired the latest cutting-edge AI technology, we couldn’t say that instantly we’re digitally transformed. It must always be seen as a transformation of whole businesses, as series of shifts that involve culture, workforce and technology. It encompasses new operating models, operations, strategic decisions and value propositions.

Can you give examples for that?

There are many examples for all sectors such as platform business models like Airbnb and Uber, subscription business models like Netflix, Spotify and cloud services, data-driven business models where information is part of the offering like smart mobility solutions. There are also many internal process improvement opportunities with automation and AI for Industry 4.0.

How can Yazaki accomplish something similar?

For achieving digital maturity, the technology factor is just one of many. And one that Yazaki has already available. An equally, if not more important factor is our people and their experience. We need colleagues from across the company to come up with innovative approaches for their field of work, with ideas on how to use the technology in a new and beneficial way. We’re excited to help and support when there is a valid business case and opportunity.

Where is Yazaki, as of now, compared to the competition?

We might not yet be in the leading pack but are certainly in the upper half when it comes to AI and digital maturity. We can be proud to have most of our core business systems in place. I know CIOs who would envy us for that. Our data lake has 80 terabytes of insightful data; 44 business processes are run by RPA [Robotic Process Automation] that automates repetitive tasks like data entry, extraction and reporting. It saves 1,100 manhours each month. Leaving such mundane tasks to RPA makes people more motivated at work.

Which tool will make Yazaki an “AI company”, as others say they are? 

Many companies market themselves as AI organizations these days. At the end of the day, you realize they don’t have any silver bullet either. There’s no tool you can buy that fixes everything. I therefore consider AI more as an umbrella which encompasses various disruptive technologies. Examples are RPA, data analytics via PowerBI and machine learning [ML], chatbots, IoT [Internet of Things] and the likes. All will interact in harmony and integration.

It seems the new tools and technologies only have advantages?

They sure are becoming more and more readily available and accessible. Of course, there are risks associated with AI tools, especially in terms of data security and intellectual property rights. Therefore, as we embrace these technologies, we also must be aware of risks and dangers.

Basically, it’s all about collecting data, isn’t it?

Today’s businesses rely on data. Many consider data as the new oil. It can be refined into information, insight and, finally, into predicted foresight based on AI. It helps with accuracy, speed of decision making and action taking. So, the more we start using our data in a predictive way with AI, the more we will transform and become more agile as one big Yazaki team.