Adam Warby on the move with Graeme Hackland

  • Posted on April 4, 2017

Floppy disks, digital disruption and driverless cars: CIO of Williams Martini Racing geeks out with Adam Warby, CEO of Avanade

Flashback to Formula One in the 1970s. On a good day, the average F1 car could reach a top speed of about 180 miles per hour, and the performance data generated during a race could fill a single floppy disk.

Enter the present-day of Formula One, a sport in which drivers and their teams only make it to the podium when a high-performing car, skilled driver and the entire organization can quickly and efficiently translate the equivalent of 4,500 floppy disks worth of data from a single race into actionable insights.

Graeme Hackland, CIO of Williams Martini Racing has spent years in an industry and sport that has changed dramatically especially given the role technology plays in improving performance on and off the track.

“In the late 1970s, Williams were one of the first teams to put a logger on its car. It took 20 minutes to download 64k of data from the vehicle,” Hackland chuckled in a recent conversation for On the Move with Adam Warby. “Today, over a whole weekend, with telemetry data, we’re generating around 60GB across both cars.”

“Rapid advances in technology innovation and its impact on the speed of business decision-making has altered the sport dramatically,” said Hackland.  And it’s changed virtually everything for Williams Martini Racing—from the speed at which it can communicate with fans on its web site to driver performance and all the way down to analyzing tire wear and its impact on speed.

“We had an enormous amount of data that was being generated, but it wasn’t available as quickly as the engineers wanted to make changes to the car,” Hackland explained. “We’ve focused a lot around our digital capability, and making sure the data could flow where it needed to, but importantly that had the computation power to be able to analyze it and get results back very quickly.”

In the digital world of Formula One, the ability to work quickly and with agility is paramount, Hackland said. “We’ve seen that over the last two seasons, working with Avanade, every single race we are bringing new features to the team at the track—and they love that.”

With 1,000 channels of data coming in from virtually every part of the team, what’s next for Hackland and his IT team at Williams Martini Racing? Hackland says continuing to analyze the data it gathers from wearable technologies will keep the team focused on ensuring its average pit stop falls under 2 seconds.

“I think there’s a lot of interesting technology coming with sensors, especially,” Hackland said.

But just how far will technology go in the sport? Watch the video to find out what Graeme has to say about whether driverless Formula One race cars might be something to watch out for in the future!

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