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A CIO’s 24 Hours of Le Mans

by Michael Shanler  |  June 28, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

CIOs are competing in an endurance race.  Winning requires carefully orchestrated activities that rely on technology, team work, precision driving, and a bit of luck.   As in racing, the victorious often win with the slimmest of margins and every single decision along the way can impact an outcome.  It is easy to be lost in the middle of the field due to a minor hiccup or a pit crew mistake…or even worse, get knocked out of competition due to something catastrophic with a system or service.  They are also sharing the road with different types of racers, each with different performance characteristics.

Your CIO race is just like the 24 hours of Le Mans http://www.lemans.org/en Circuit de la Sarthe, the famous endurance race where several classes of cars compete simultaneously – LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE-Pro and LMGTE-Am.

Capture

[Image Source: Wikimedia.org]

If you aren’t familiar, the LMP car programs can cost over $250 million per manufacturer.  The “prototype” platforms are purpose built for running engines at a blistering 9000 RPM for 24 hours.  Automotive manufacturers have a vested interest in winners and bragging rights. Outcomes impact brand perception and winning cars are showcased in TV ads.   The “1” class has extra technology packs, unrestricted engine displacement and hybrid powertrains, whereas the “2” class is a bit more uniform.   The GTE car classes are more akin to the vehicles we see on our streets. They are still very fast, but the cars were designed for mass production and then adapted for racing.  They are more “affordable” to put on a track and are broken out by professional and amateur teams.   (Maybe I should do a kickstarter…)

I’m a complete car-junkie… I tuned in at the start, checked the race standings at 3 in the morning, then watched the last 90 minutes with my 8-year-old son.   This year’s Le Mans was absolutely @#$@ing spectacular. Here’s why:

  • LMP1:  The previous 2 years, the Porsche 919 teams have been washing their windscreens with champagne at the expense of Toyota.   After 11 hours of lead changes, the lead Porsche dropped out and the #2 spent an extra hour in the pits….Toyota could taste the victory. Vengeance would be theirs with 2 cars in the lead and a 3rd in contention…but alas, a power failure and a mechanical issue took the 2 Toyotas out. Then a puncture stemming from a small rub against a rival car dropped their 3rd car out of contention.  A vaunted Porsche 919 team won again.  “Porsche is Le Mans and Le Mans is Porsche” proclaimed an earlier press release for the 919 Hybrid. Oh, it must suck at other team HQs.
  • LMP2:  These cars outperformed.  It was unexpected.  After 23 hours, they almost took the fastest time and won the race due to the 919 being debugged and repaired during an extended pitstop.  Almost…
  • GTE-PRO: After a spectacular 23.9 hours of racing, on the last lap, the leading #63 Corvette team punctured a tire on field debris and  dropped out of contention, giving the podium to Aston Martin.  Oh so cruel.
  • GTE-AM: Not one. Not two.  But three Ferrari 488’s took the podium in a clean sweep.   This makes up for Enzo losing to those pesky Ford GT’s in 1966.

Anyway, when you think about your own race vehicles and how to build or accelerate your digital platforms, you must consider how much prototyping and customization is required to win and where you can compete.  Costs and tech are obvious issues..but so are skills, maintenance, track conditions, support and the fit for purpose.  Components wear down at different rates.  How do you service all those components over the long term?  As CIOs either plan the next race or try to complete the one they are already in, it is important to put together a race program that is designed for endurance.  Winning often comes at the slimmest of margins.  A serious of small decisions can have a rather large impact.  Developing a prototype for a 10-lap race is comparatively easy.  However, scaling this for endurance for 24 hours is a completely different game.  As a CIO, your eye should be on the long race, the investments for the future, to win your own version of Le Mans. You and I have a few opportunities to connect on this:

  • Gartner IT Symposia in Orlando (1-5 October, 2017) and  Barcelona (5-9 November 2017) , etc…
  • 24 hours of Le Mans  (June 16-17 2018)……if anyone wants to meet me in France

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Michael Shanler
Research VP
5 years at Gartner

Michael Shanler covers life science R&D technologies. Read Full Bio




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