Digital Transformation: Technology, Vision, And Data

Chet Harter

It is inspiring to consider how we made it from the Model A to today’s smart cars. Would Henry Ford ever have envisioned the transportation industry we have today?

It is not that we have made a self-driving vehicle. It is more akin to how interactive technologies increase capabilities. Those capabilities include how people interact, grow, and even learn. The technology behind all this touches design, manufacturing, distribution, and service.

In this blog post, we’ll look at how we transform the fundamental process into a digital tool.

Change is empowering — embrace it

Thanks to technology, the days of doing it “the way we always have” are gone. Automotive industry standards upgrade with changes in technology. Automobiles and customers connect through digital customer engagement. In fact, technology has driven the evolution of the entire automotive manufacturing process.

For the first time in a long while, the younger generation has the upper hand. The old guard is lagging behind in what is now a technology-driven industry. Who do we turn to when we need to figure out our smartphone? Our children. The younger generation, which lives and breathes technology, is most adept at using new tech tools. The benefit is that automation removes boring standardized tasks and creates opportunities. Through these changes, employees find their jobs more fulfilling. Why? Because technology helps them work on real problems and in real-time.

The key to real time is access to current information. The fact that employees now have access to instant analytics drives responsible decision-making. A good example of how real-time information works is to consider fire exit routes. If there is a fire and you can see all the routes, which way do you go? Without that information, you can only guess the safest route. Real-time data shows you exactly which route to take and eliminates the guesswork.

Access to real-time data allows workers to make informed decisions using current data. Those decisions come from data, not policy, and customized decisions support changes that drive customer satisfaction and improve efficiency. The digital process empowers rule-based management, and that improves human performance. The rewards go to customers, employees, and businesses.

So how can your business use digital processes?

Real-time means right now

What if you could see your entire workforce in motion? Imagine that you could see how inventory, progress, and efficiency function, and where and when manual systems slow efficiency. Would that not give you the power to make changes?

That is what a digital automotive network does: It gives you the tools to see. What you see enables you to do. In fact, it gives your entire team the ability to see. That empowerment is the basis of rule-based management. You act based on what you see in the data. Because the data is in real time, you can remove the cogs that slow down production. Increases in efficiency and quality are the rewards. Would your business benefit with increases in efficiency and quality?

Software that reads your mind and teaches itself

The idea behind real-time analytics is not about data entry. It is about software that is predictive. Predictive software evaluates situations and creates data. It is also about self-learning software; programs that learn from successes and failures. What if software got better the longer you used it? It can—that is what self-learning software does; it gets better as it learns your system and equipment.

If you touch a hot pan and burn your hand, you learn not to touch things that are hot. Similarly, predictive software has a human element. It learns by measuring success and failure. That process drives efficiency and quality improvements.

Predictive software creates data that enables you to see everything as it happens, which empowers you to make the best decisions. Of course, such software is powerful, so top management must decide who has access to what data points. Data is accessible even on mobile devices, and that accessibility benefits the entire automotive industry, including automotive suppliers. It helps the original equipment manufacturer and quality management and even improves automotive industry standards for aftermarket parts suppliers.

The digital automotive network

A core benefit of the digital automotive network is that data is available. Another benefit is that predictive software gets to know people and their actions. Interactive technologies understand different workers’ roles even as they move among transactions. This helps improve job quality as well as worker job satisfaction.

Stimulation and creativity are two forces that drive humanity. Could your business benefit from employees who are more motivated and creative? Where does your company derive new product ideas? How do problems find solutions that benefit your company? Even with automation, people continue to play a vital role. That role may evolve, but the human value of your employees remains.

Focus on the connection

Business is nothing without relationships. The automotive industry is gigantic, and within its sphere are mechanical and digital assets. Your company fits into that sphere in some capacity. How do relationships impact your business?

The auto industry’s transformation from manual to digital has also created new relationships. The interaction between B2B and B2C is clearer. That clarity allows customer feedback to change manufacturing today rather than tomorrow, which in turn improves quality. Product improvement is constant, and innovation becomes an instant and gratifying tool.

The digital automotive network improves the relationship between customer and products, and between employees and management. It also helps increase employee job satisfaction. Product development and improvement becomes easier. Digital moves products, business, and market position forward. That success is due to the empowerment of people by data.

Learn more about digital transformation for automotive at Automotive. Reimagined for the new economy.

Chet Harter

About Chet Harter

Chet Harter is a member of SAP's Digital Innovation team. For over 15 years, he has helped many SAP automotive and manufacturing clients apply new technologies to address current business issues and opportunities. Prior to SAP, he spent 12 years in various positions in materials and production management for large tier 1 suppliers in the automotive industry. He can reached at