People aren’t merely buying cars today. They’re looking for solutions that address different driving habits and lifestyles. Environmentally conscious consumers are considering options such as electric automobiles, and, although self-driving cars are years away, consumers are beginning to expect assisted-driving features, including help with parallel parking or backup alerts. Some younger consumers aren’t buying cars at all but are, instead, looking for ride sharing or other mobility services. To stay competitive in the changing automotive industry, automakers cannot limit their focus to producing better cars; they also need to provide better experiences.
Established automotive brands are faced with an additional challenge: new competition. Challenger companies are introducing vehicles with new features, as well as offering new transportation services that are chipping away at their market share.
As businesses in the automotive manufacturing industry grapple with this new competition, new technologies, and new demands from consumers, they find themselves at a crossroads. They need to set the course for the future while not losing sight of customer demands today and the need to attract engineering talent that will enable them to innovate.
Priorities in the Changing Automotive Industry
Automakers who will prevail in the future must focus on three priorities:
1. Customer Focus
Leaders in the automotive industry have long recognized the importance of identifying and addressing the demands of a target market. A high-end Tesla driver is looking for a different experience than Prius or an F-150 driver. It’s critical for automotive manufacturers to determine who their customers are and the types of vehicles and experiences they want.
Those assessments must be based on data. Manufacturers can collect operational data from connected vehicles, but it’s just as important to leverage customer touchpoints and demographics, social, and other external sources of data to develop a better understanding of the customer experiences (CX) vehicles provide. With this analysis, businesses can invest their time and resources in improving vehicle performance, as well as the CX their products deliver.
Customer interactions directly with automotive manufacturers also impact CX, so businesses in the automotive industry are also looking for ways to enhance those engagements, including utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and augmented reality (AR) to provide consumers with the convenience, personalization, and service they expect.
2. Building an ecosystem
One key to surviving in the changing automotive industry is to form partnerships that align with the goal of transitioning from “automotive manufacturer” to “mobility company.” Some automakers are partnering with cities, hotels, or businesses in the transportation industry to provide mobility. Others are partnering with other industries, for example, equipping fleet operators in the mining industry.
Automotive manufacturers will also need the support of partners as they branch out into new business models. Those adopting the subscription model will need to build a coordinated team of dealers and technicians as well as, perhaps, insurers and roadside assistance providers.
Technology will enable these businesses to create connected ecosystems that provide access to real-time data, coordinate with suppliers and partners, and optimize production.
3. Manufacturing Excellence
Although the automotive manufacturing industry must move forward in new directions to stay competitive, businesses can’t lose sight of the fact that manufacturing excellence must remain a priority. Automakers need to continually look for ways to improve their operations, maintain supply chain visibility, and meet each customers’ individual requirements, serving “a segment of one.” New technologies, including co-bots, AI, AR, and conversational user interfaces (UIs), will provide automakers with the agility, automation, and efficiency they need to meet new demands.
A state-of-the-art manufacturing operation also plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining engineering talent. In addition to improving efficiency and productivity, a more automated “intelligent” enterprise can also enhance workspaces, support innovation, and increase employee satisfaction.
The Opportunity to Reinvent Your Business
The changing automotive industry challenges manufacturers to find ways to maintain their relevance, market share, and competitiveness. However, it also opens the door to the opportunity for manufacturers to refocus their business in a way that differentiates their brand and addresses the new demands of their target audience. That may include building new revenue streams. According to McKinsey & Company, the car-generated data market could grow to as much as $750 billion by 2030, and Statista reports the Mobility-as-a-Service market is projected to grow to $9.2 trillion in the same timeframe. A lot of opportunity!
Once you set the course for your business, it’s essential to equip it with the right technology tools to make your vision a reality. Explore how a data platform can empower you to engineer experiences that delight your customers, and how AI, machine learning, IoT, AR, robotic process automation (RPA) — and even blockchain technology — can advance your operation’s digital transformation.
Building an intelligent enterprise ready to take on the challenges of the changing automotive industry requires the right technology foundation as well as an investment of time and resources, but will also give you the ability to provide added value now and in the future, and so grow a loyal customer base, in addition to increased revenues.
To learn more, download the SAP white paper “The Intelligent Enterprise for the Automotive Industry.”
Download the latest SAP white paper “The Intelligent Enterprise for the Consumer Products Industry”, and discover how technologies like big data, machine learning and blockchain are reshaping the consumer goods industry.
– written by Judy Cubiss, Director, Global Marketing Lead — Automotive and IM&C Industries
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