The auto industry has come a long way from the days of Henry Ford. The fierce battle for innovation in engineering ruled back in the day. Then came the era of refinement of process, design and features both for safety and vanity. Cars were a commodity by then and the globalization of markets made the auto-makers turn their attention to innovation in branding, marketing and sales. All the while computers silently took over the asphalt riders. With the gradual increase of processing power and miniaturizing of hardware came an era of digitisation in every aspect of the business.
Technological evolution and the constant striving for competitive advantage have been key factors in driving the adoption of the digitalera. There is no escaping the fact that we are a part of the digital landscape and more than ever we are mining data. Data from the factory floor, from customer touchpoints, and from the vehicle itself. Bombarded/flooded/over-whelmed with millions of terabytes of data, we are left with the singular question, “How do I unlock the value from this humongous and high-velocity stream of varied and volatile data?”
To stay on top of the game, the automotive industry has to look to innovation of a different kind. Innovation in the Digital ecosystem.
There is no denying the fact that the past few decades have witnessed manufacturing and supply chain management move onto a digitalbackbone. From SAP to ERP every manufacturing facility is assisted by the data plat-forms which orchestrate the movement of innumerable parts and components into a complex symphony of a finished product. But now we see a transition of a different kind, a transition to a data-intense ecosystem that demands weeding out the cacophony of noises to identify the crucial information that is hidden within. Not all digital data is equal. Take for instance the data being churned out by connected or autonomous vehicles. This data has very high volatility, being valid for not more than a few nanoseconds.
The systems and plat-forms sifting through this data need to be agile and adaptive and leaning
toward artificial intelligence. Where-as the telematics or vehicle health and performance data, though not as glamorous as the former, has a longer shelf life yielding itself to more intense analysis and scrutiny with an intent to improve engineering processes, vehicle performance or even component design. Understanding the veracity and creating platforms that can ad-dress these unique challenges to glean valuable insights is the key to current day digital innovation.
Digital innovation in the custom-er touchpoints has always been top on the list because they have the potential to make or break a brand. But nature has thrown a “spanner in the works” with a prolonged pandemic that demands a different kind of digital experience from the comfort of the customer’s home, or shall I call it “from the palm of his hand”. Innovation is in pushing the boundaries to take the vehicle virtually into the customer’s home, making the experience rich with sights, sounds and the feel of the rev of the engines. Technologies like Virtual reality have the promise to deliver the vision. And of course, making your customer’s digital experience better than a retail one is not a great challenge if only we top it off with the ability to customize their choices and bring it to a win-win with a flawless-digital payment experience. The digital landscape has triggered many business model transformations too in this industry. Boeing began an early trend of “asset as a service” for the jet engines they produced.
Nature has thrown a “spanner in the works” with a prolonged pandemic that demands a different kind of digital experience from the comfort of the customer’s home, or shall I call it “from the palm of his hand”
Today we see this model adopted in the ride-hailing and the vehicle leasing services adopted in many urban areas where meaningful and positive changes are effected in the community by addressing pollution, traffic, individual safety and health concerns with a reduced total cost of convenience. On one end of the spectrum is a continued focus on innovation in greener and cleaner energy options by evolving more efficient Electric Vehicles, while at the other end there is a whole gamut of digital experiences which need to be planed around this nucleus such as seamless charging experience accented by engaging infotainment options to woo today’s digital-savvy customers. Gone are the days when the automobile was seen merely as bare metal, today it is transforming itself into an infotainment device, a virtual assistant with a voice, and even my personal concierge, all within the comfort of my vehicle. Digital innovation becomes the secret sauce that ties together the bare metal with the digital flavours and makes the whole concoction more sassy and attractive to a generation that thrives in the world of digital experiences.
So in this era of digital innovation, the automotive industry is constantly challenged to see itself not only as a manufacturing or engineering business but a techno-focused business with constant investment into breaking new ground in the digital land-scape and pushing the limits in digital experiences. Digital transformation companies has been such a digital success partner for their customers in the Automotive industry, understanding their unique challenges and covisioning the possibilities and assisting them to innovate in the digital playground.