Reimagining The Future Of Automotive In The Digital Age

Holger Masser

In the future, every business will need to be a digital business to compete, and those in the automotive industry are no exception. While technology is disruptive to traditional manufacturing and production processes and to automotive sales, it is clear in the automotive industry that the companies showing the most growth are the ones investing in the most digital innovation.

What does the automotive industry of the future look like? Connectivity, mobility, and data are the drivers behind the wheels of this industry shift.

Digitization in vehicles requires changing business processes

With hyperconnectivity now the norm, vehicles themselves are changing as consumers come to expect more and more digitization in their driving experience. From GPS location to computerized processes that diagnose problems, vehicles have moved into a fully expanded digital world. Today, interconnectivity and car to car communication are just the tip of the iceberg. Computers help determine the driving experience, make travel safer, and keep cars and their users connected to the outside world.

On top of this, digitization of vehicles has made them fertile targets for hackers and security breaches, and manufacturers must maintain security and trust to maintain their brand name image. All of this takes heavy upgrading of manufacturer systems to keep up with not only creating these mobile digital environments, but also keeping communication and innovation intact. Mobile computing platforms with in-memory processing help keep these new digitized vehicles moving in the right direction and require significant re-imagining of traditional business processes.

Manufacturing itself is progressing

BMW plants in Germany innovate with slow-moving collaborative robots that work with a human partner. Tesla works to individualize the car buying and driving experience with environmentally friendly and connected vehicles. Bosch develops driver safety systems based on sensors and ultrasound to improve handling, safety, and the driving experience.

At the core, digitization is changing not only how cars handle, but how manufacturers approach the construction and design process. This shift requires computing systems capable of handling Big Data, combining standard business practice with platforms that reveal the “why” behind actions. Only then can manufacturers view the entire manufacturing process with a contextual view to improve real-time decision making in this digital framework.

Sales formats that embrace digital technology

Omnichannel ordering and shopping are changing the ways consumers approach the automotive buying process. Dealerships are seeing a shift to educated consumers who know what they want and demand a customer-centric and connected experience. Supply-and-demand data must be updated constantly to keep up with these consumer shifts. Service management becomes equally important, and manufacturers and dealerships must coordinate this data together to better manage product quality, sales metrics, and product image. Sales requires a 360-degree contextual view to understand consumer choices and improve customer relations.

Platform technologies that improve digital connectivity and awareness will become mandatory for automotive companies to meet the demands of a new digital age. Computing systems must maintain not only speed, but also accuracy, and they must allow a full view of real-time, contextual data in order to meet increasing consumer demands for digitally connected vehicles that demand data.

For automotive companies that are able to make the digital leap, vehicles will become customer-specific, tailored to task, connected, safer, and more environmentally conscious. Digitization, while disruptive to traditional practice, will open a new future in personal travel.

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Holger Masser

About Holger Masser

Holger Masser is global vice president of the global business unit Industry Business Solution of the Automotive Industry at SAP. He is responsible for the entire solution portfolio spanning from automotive supplier, automotive OEM, and automotive retail, and importer business. He joined SAP in 2011 and has been working for more then 20 years in the automotive industry, with 10 years in Asia. Masser has profound knowledge in the entire value chain of the automotive business, implementing long-term IT strategies aligned with corporate company objectives and business strategy. In Asia, he primarily focused on logistics, sales, aftersales, production and financial services on automotive OEM, retail, wholesale, and regional and headquarter levels.