At the beginning of the month, Gilbreth Brown, Enterprise Solutions Sales Manager of Pentana Solutions attended and presented at this year’s Southeast Asian Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. The renowned conference invited Gil to speak about his expertise in finding the next success within the automotive industry. His answer was Big Data.
At the beginning of his presentation, Gil brought the problem into focus. The automotive industry is a crowded, competitive market - how could competitors continue to find ways to grow market share?
While pointing out the market’s saturation – he also illustrated its tendency to be cut throat. If one doesn’t stay innovative – its success in the industry won’t last long; a point he proves with his Proton and Perodua passenger vehicle graph in Malaysia.
Typical competitive areas within the industry include quality, pricing, customer service, marketing, branding, and engineering.
However, the competitive pressure doesn’t stop there. Competing in a static market is difficult enough, but how about impending market shifts such as growing consumer consciousness for emission controls, higher safety standards, longer vehicle life spans and lightning speed product development?
Gil goes onto explain that to compete in such an industry takes one important foundation: innovation. What is desirable to users? What is viable in the market place? And, what is possible with technology? Truly understanding consumer demand and behaviour, clearly monitoring and measuring internal and external corporate performance relative to the market, and what accessing different sources of data can help us answer these questions.
Through the years, OEM’s and dealerships have fine-tuned their approaches and attacks for competitive advantage, but could it be done better? What role could data driven analytics bring to consumer research and satisfaction? Furthermore, what ‘salient differentiators’ are customers often making decisions from? What is the one thing that makes the winning purchase stand out?
Co-branding, product development and customer service are just a few examples of salient differentiators that Gil mentions in his presentation.
Gil suggests that big businesses should look to find their salient differentiators through Big Data.
“Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside an organisation that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis that will enable us to understand and predict.”
So in essence, use Big Data as a smarter business intelligence tool of the future, to gain competitive advantage?
Yes, but only if it’s utilised correctly. Big Data on its own is data that is so big, so unstructured, that it defies traditional collection methods, storage needs, and interpretive analysis. It’s unsuitable for a database, exceeds “normal” analysis, grows exponentially and is available…well everywhere. Therefore, success will lie in the mining, interpretation, and actions that come from Big Data.
Gil went on to highlight specific opportunities that lie ahead for Big Data and an automotive OEM. The opportunities span across R&D and design, supply chain management, production, marketing, sales, and aftersales servicing:
And which OEM’s are already utilising Big Data?
Currently General Motors is in the middle of the IT-transformation, where instead of doing only 10% of the IT work in-house, 90% of it will be done in-house by the end of 2015. They are hiring 12,000 IT personnel and the objective is to have 10,000 of its IT personnel work on new developments by 2018.
They have also developed their own, $ 130 million, data centre that runs on Hadoop. It has almost 37,000 servers and an 8 Terabyte fibre optic data connection to their other data centres. Another $ 258 million data centre is also being built in the same area. In total, GM plans to spend $ 546 million on their new data centres, planned in Warren and Milford.
The new data centre already has 3 Petabytes of data on site, consisting of product development, procurement, logistics, quality, manufacturing, customer care, sales, marketing, finance, and other kinds of data.
Ford recently opened a lab in Silicon Valley to improve its cars with big data. In order to progress their cars regarding fuel consumption, safety, quality and emissions, Ford gathers data from over four million cars with in-car sensors and remote application management software. All data is analyzed in real-time giving engineers valuable information to notice and solve issues in real-time, know how the car responds in different road and weather conditions and any other forces that could affect the car.
Ford is also installing numerous sensors in their cars to monitor behavior. They install over 74 sensors in cars including sonar, cameras, radar, accelerometers, temperature sensors and rain sensors. As a result, the Energi line of plug-in hybrid cars generate over 25 gigabytes of data every hour. This data is returned back to the factory for real-time analysis and returned to the driver via a mobile app. The cars in its testing facility even generate up to 250 gigabytes of data per hour from smart cameras and sensors.
May 23, 2013: Toyota announced today what it calls the “Big Data Traffic Information Service,” a giant mashup of data harvested from currently 3.3 million of telematics users in Japan, and 700,000 Toyota customers equipped with a Digital Communication Module (DCM), a sensor module that constantly monitors and transmits vehicle data. Combined with other telematics data, the system powers navigation and information services. Unlike other systems, Toyota’s on-line platform can also be used by local governments and businesses.
Being a Japanese system, the Big Data service is heavy on disaster management and relief functions. As long as the cellphone data network has not been wiped out, the system provides routes to and locations of evacuation sites, even the possible heights of a tsunami, should one strike. The system can communicate with on-board systems, smartphones, tablets etc. The system is relatively low-cost. An annual subscription by users costs $25. Disaster information is free of charge. Commercial users can book the platform and 100,000 transactions for $2,000 per month.
Gil concluded his presentation by summarising the journey: from highlighting competitive pressures, to reiterating that businesses must innovate or be forgotten, and explaining how to find salient differences and competitive advantage through big data. If you’d like more information on how Pentana Solutions is helping dealerships and OEM’s find their salient differentiators through the enhanced analytics provided by Big Data, please leave your contact details below.