McLaren CIO: Shifting position to a tech firm was ‘fundamental’

The F1 team’s CIO today said that the recent name change to position McLaren as a technology firm was a “fundamental” move to accelerate growth at McLaren.

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The F1 team’s CIO today said that the recent name change to position McLaren as a technology firm was a “fundamental” move to accelerate growth at McLaren.

Speaking during a ‘Leaders Meet Innovation’ event held at BAFTA this morning, Stuart Birrell said that the top racing team alone was "not going to grow quickly enough" – unlike McLaren’s data analytics and simulation arm.

Tuesday’s name change to "McLaren technology group" presents the firm's focus on the “creation of disruptive technologies”, its chief executive Ron Dennis said. Distancing itself from its sports legacy is logical, Dennis added, when you consider that three quarters of McLaren’s 3000-strong workforce have nothing to do with the motorsport.

While rebranding an entire business model is a bold move – it appears to have become a trend for firms who want to open new revenue streams, improve marketing or entice talented employees.  

Telecoms and entertainment broadcasters like the BBC are undergoing similar transformations - BBC iPlayer for example. Additionally, British Gas – a 200-year-old utility company has opened its own tech startup - British Gas Connected Homes, which runs its popular Hive thermostat app.

KPMG’s enterprise lead Iain Moffat recently shed light on a key factor driving the shift – data.

Speaking to Business Development Leader’s Network, Moffat explained that the firm no longer considers major accountancy firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers or Ernst and Young its only competition, but is threatened by Google and Amazon too.

He said: “What is Google? An IT company? Media company? No, fundamentally it’s a data organisation. That’s what it sells. And what’s stopping Google becoming a provider of advice based on data analysis in the future? The only thing stopping it is that it doesn’t currently have a recognised or trusted brand in that field. But in five years’ time, that might be different. If you’re a new company, are you bothered about whether you deal with KPMG, Google, ABC, or XYZ? No, you care about what that company can do for you.”

KPMG recently signed a ten-year contract to use McLaren's in-house predictive analytics, a platform based on SAP Hana technology. 

The F1 team's new 57,000 square metres ‘applied technology centre’ is awaiting planning permission. The new tech headquarters, alongside new aerodynamic research facilities, workshops offices and training spaces which will double McLaren’s estate, the firm said on Tuesday. The group is based in Woking, Surrey.

Image: Lewis Hamilton, who won the Canadian Grand Prix for McLaren in 2007. © Flickr/Chris Richards

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