Skip to content

The cloud is the future of mobility


Our economies are increasingly being powered and expanded by cloud infrastructure and services. The cloud makes it possible for businesses to access, build, and run the software they need to undergo digital transformation at a rate and scale that, if done on their own, would be prohibitive for the majority of them. Access to cutting-edge cloud solutions is essential to Europe’s potential to produce digital innovation and maintain global competitiveness in a world where technology helps European businesses reach customers, break into new global markets, create efficiencies, or develop new data-based business models.

By setting an uptake target of 75% by 2030, the European Commission made cloud computing a central component of its Digital Decade goals. To reach that goal, more work needs to be done. While 41% of businesses used the cloud last year, only 73% of those businesses utilized advanced cloud services.

  • Digital future

A look at Europe’s automobile industry demonstrates how crucial it can be for a sector’s future to rapidly and successfully adopt technology. With a turnover that exceeds 8% of the EU’s total GDP, car manufacturers are an important export industry that generates a €79.5 billion annual trade surplus and employs 13.8 million Europeans in direct and indirect ways.

A shift that not only opens up new business models and revenue streams in the form of connected experiences and mobility services for customers but also creates challenges is that automobiles are becoming increasingly software-defined and have more in common with electronic devices than mechanical engineering.

Additionally, it places traditional automakers at a potential disadvantage in comparison to their digitally native competitors who have more software experience. Building vehicles and letting other people build and monetize smart services is the option, or catching up quickly to provide hardware and software, creating value from data collection and analysis, and profiting from cloud services driven by data.

It is abundantly clear where the automakers of Europe increasingly see their future. Stellantis projects annual revenues of €4 billion by 2026 and €20 billion by 2030, while VW projects software and services industry revenues of €1.2 trillion in 2030. This is why these businesses are now hiring more software engineers than mechanical engineers. The European automotive industry is able to transform thanks to partnerships with technology providers like Microsoft. These partnerships enable innovation in areas like road safety and autonomous driving, unlock new mobility solutions by leveraging insights from connected vehicle data, and create efficiencies in production and logistics. This transformation is based on cutting-edge cloud technology.

  • Mobile Cloud

One example is Mercedes-Benz, which connects its approximately 30 passenger car plants worldwide with the Microsoft Cloud to improve transparency and predictability throughout its digital production and supply chain. The company is able to improve quality control, track and forecast emissions, optimize energy and water usage, better manage waste, and implement its best practices across its entire production network by utilizing enhanced access to AI, data, and analytics tools.

Mercedes-Benz is working with Microsoft to increase production efficiency by 20% by 2025. This will help to predict and prevent problems in logistics and production before they happen, giving it a big advantage over competitors as it moves toward an all-electric future.

In a similar vein, cloud computing and data are reshaping the automotive retail experience. The first-of-its-kind metaverse-powered car showroom on the Microsoft Cloud was launched by Stellantis-owned FIAT, allowing customers to discover, configure, and even purchase a new car without ever visiting a dealership.

Cloud-based software tools make it possible for the automotive industry and other industries to grow based on data innovation. Microsoft is assisting in the resolution of a significant obstacle to data sharing between multiple organizations and their global supply chains in both cloud and on-premises systems as part of its collaboration with the Eclipse Foundation. This is done in accordance with the policies of the organization and on the basis of the European concept of dataspaces, giving them full control over their data.

Open-source libraries in the Dataspace Components of the Eclipse Foundation make it possible for policy-based federated data sharing across multiple clouds. Microsoft also contributed to projects that aimed to significantly increase developer efficiencies and reduce the complexity of developing in-vehicle applications in order to support innovation in the software-driven and autonomous vehicle fields. For the automotive alliance Catena-X, the Eclipse project provides the central data sharing engine that enables sovereign data exchange among all contributors to the automotive value chain.

  • Future tech

Microsoft is prepared to play a role in focusing on developing new European tech champions of the future. As a major technology provider, it is our duty to support reputable local providers and a healthy competitive economic environment in order to meet our customers’ technology needs. It is essential to keep in mind that European businesses require immediate access to cutting-edge native cloud-based technology in order to innovate, lead, and compete. This is something we have committed to as part of our European Cloud Principles and program for European Cloud Providers.

We need supportive frameworks to achieve this objective. a viewpoint that is shared by Hildegard Müller, the head of the German automotive association VDA. She emphasized in a recent speech the importance of creating the right conditions for European and German industries to continue to be global leaders in the creation of transformational technologies, further promotion of digital and sustainable innovations, and export of those innovations to other countries.

With regard to the future, we must guarantee that European businesses will continue to have access to the most advanced applications that meet their business requirements, as well as adequate incentives for investments in data-based services and business-to-business data sharing.

This includes legislation that has been proposed, like the Data Act, but the business community is cautious about it. Iris Plöger, a member of the Executive Board of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), recently issued a warning that data access and sharing obligations could hinder the internal market and reduce Europe’s attractiveness as a business location.

We need to shift our focus from cloud technologies to the economic opportunities they support and enable. In order to realize its digital ambitions and compete globally, Europe needs favorable digital policies, access to cutting-edge technology, and continued openness and connectivity to the global economy.