The future of automotive industry on wheels of data

The future of automotive industry on wheels of data

By Rajender Bhandari

Imagine a world where everything is connected and communicating – you come out of the gym and while heading to the car, the fitness band reads a heart rate of 120 and a body temperature of 102°F. The car sets its interior temperature accordingly even before you reach it. Also, a message from the refrigerator at home prompts the car that your favorite drink is out of stock. The car automatically re-routes itself to the nearest grocery store on your way back home!

Is this even a possible scenario? Yes. This is what the future looks like.

One of the most transformative impacts of digital transformation is the development of a data economy. New data-driven business models have emerged across industries and the automotive industry is no exception.

The automotive industry is expected to evolve more in the next ten years than it has evolved in the past fifty years! This whopping growth can be attributed to the growth in the technology landscape and the connectivity of newer technologies like IoT enables.

Automakers of today are competing neck and neck to make the most intelligent connected vehicles. Major tech giants like Volvo, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Toyota are investing in technologies for digital supply chains, environment-friendly automobiles and autonomous vehicles. Portfolios are now focused more on safety and connectivity than any other features. The industry is realizing the pivotal role that data, its collection, management and analytics play in powering newer and more connected vehicles and therefore newer business models.

New Technologies

Data has become a part of every single conversation of business leaders and IT decision-makers.

The automotive sector is now in a position where data management is no luxury, but a necessity to suit tech-savvy customer needs. Automakers have realized the business value one can possibly create by monetizing data, which does not mean selling data, but drawing business insight from the data available and ensure a positive impact on revenue.

Automakers need to understand the importance of monetizing vehicle data to optimize their existing business models.

For instance, Michelin, a French tyre manufacturer now leases tyres and offers a tyre monitoring program.

Using telematics and predictive analysis of data collected from the smart tyres, the service provides real-time information.

Data is collected digitally and fed into the fleet’s asset monitoring system, giving companies real-time performance analysis and ‘wear and tear’ data of specific tyre of individual trucks.

The path of the data through the factory to the road is classified into three process stages: collect, store and analyze.

The digital transformation of the automotive industry is, in effect, the innovative reassembly of customer and company resources, and of products and services; in order to grow value, revenue and efficiency via digital technologies. Apple recently launched CarPlay software which gives drivers, wireless access to certain iOS features directly from the vehicle’s built-in infotainment system. Major auto players are also using technologies which are designed to limit distractions and provide personalized and unique driving experience. Jaguar Land Rover has recently introduced self-learning intelligent cars to its range of vehicles.

With this technology, the system learns driver and passenger behaviours, their needs and preferences. Automakers are integrating new technologies with the users’ mobile phones that can change comfort controls, entertainment choices, offer calendar reminders and navigation guidance.

Data and its management

The speed at which transformation is taking place in the auto industry is impacting R&D, procurement, assembly, marketing, parts and services. This transformation is governed by new technologies, resulting in changes in consumer behaviour and consequently the emergence of new business models. And data is sitting right at the centre of this transformation.

The tidal wave of new data from connected cars has become a catalyst for change in the auto industry, and we are now seeing how companies are building data fabrics in order to ride the wave. Auto companies are now getting creative in how they build their infrastructures, with many turning to open source storage platforms like OpenStack.

So automakers have to look for solutions built for private and hybrid clouds based on OpenStack. Automakers are looking for data fabric, which enables them to connect their private clouds with hyper-scale cloud providers like Amazon or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for storing certain types of data such as video streams from connected cars. The data deluge also affects automotive designers using advanced computer design packages. The fact is that data is no longer working in silos.

Though automakers have realized the importance of data, they need to create a secure and robust infrastructural support to unleash the full potential of that data.

The flow between data, applications and storage elements will be mapped in real-time as the data delivers the exact information a user needs; at the exact time they need it.

This also introduces the ability for data to self-govern. The data itself will determine who has the right to access, share and use it and this could have wider implications for external data protection, privacy, governance and sovereignty.

Coupled with new technologies, data will help automakers gain new insights, predict future to a certain extent and drive cognitive drive behaviour – all this most importantly leading to safer driving! This can only happen when we make data reliable and accessible across environments from anywhere, at any time.

(The writer is Director Technology and Solutions, NetApp India)