Q&A: Telematics and capitalising on aftermarket opportunities

Abhijit Ghaskadbi, associate vice president, automotive preactice, Tech Mahindra

What kinds of challenges does the automotive industry face in engaging with customers through the entire lifecycle?

The issue of customer engagement is very well known in the automotive industry. The typical duration of new vehicle ownership in developed markets has been rising over the past decade from 5 – 6 years a decade ago to more than 7 -8 years at present.

However, an automotive OEM typically remains connected to the customer through a dealership at the most until the end of a lease, or the end of a warranty period offered by the OEM. As a result, typical defection rates are 60 – 70 per cent with vehicle owners looking towards third party service providers for vehicle maintenance and service needs.

What is the potential for connected car data to improve the way that dealers and manufacturers can engage with customers?

An OEM or dealer-fitted connected car solution can provide an ideal way for dealers and manufacturers to increase the rate of engagement with customers. 

Analysts predict that data monetisation from the automotive industry will be a distinct new market in itself worth $1 trillion in size in the next ten years. New business models are evolving to provide remote monitoring, vehicle diagnostics and maintenance, navigation and infotainment, roadside safety and driver assistance – as well as new services like car sharing, urban mobility solutions and retailing solutions.

The customer, as well as the manufacturers and dealers, stand to gain directly through the use of connected car data and the new opportunities for engagement it will provide.

What kind of data is of most value in opening up new opportunities?

We believe data that provides a 360-degree view of the customer (e.g. driving behaviour or locations visited), the vehicle (diagnostics trouble codes as well as the vehicle parameters) and the vehicle environment (weather, road and traffic condition) all have relevance depending on the end use case. The data of most value will either lead to improvements in driver safety or help in identifying a service need.

How will Big data, and data correlations ultimately improve the customer experience?

We see the monetisation of data as a key area of investment for our customers. There are opportunities to help manufacturers get a 360-degree view of the customer by combining both structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. This includes data from the connected car, data from the database management system (DMS) such as the service history, CRM data such as the customer interaction history, social media data, warranty claim data and data mined from third party sources.

This all provides a holistic view of an individual customer. By identifying individual customer needs, manufacturers and dealers are able to uniquely tailor their offerings to improve customer engagement and, therefore, customer retention.

Are there any examples of how this is already being used by manufacturers / dealers?

Yes. We know of several manufacturers who are setting up data lakes combining information not just from customer facing marketing and sales systems, but also from third party sources, social media, connected car and manufacturing plant data.

The aim is to offer data monetisation solutions in three key areas - customer experience (mobility and content), product quality (diagnostic, maintenance and product quality) and services (usage based services like insurance, tyres or fuel).

In terms of car safety, how can data - and correlations between different data types, bring improvements to the safety of drivers?

We have built a solution using vehicle and sensor data for driver behaviour analysis and driver fatigue monitoring. We can use this to proactively monitor the vehicle and driver, providing alerts if certain thresholds are breached, or if roadside assistance is needed following an accident. Such data can also be combined with environmental data such as weather or traffic, data from smart infrastructure, or data from other vehicles about events such as emergency braking, to further improve road safety. 

There are also efforts in the market to combine warranty and manufacturing data to provide early warning systems that can assist with recall management. These can provide feedback to product development and manufacturing plants, should design or manufacturing defects endanger driver or vehicle safety.

In terms of the after sales experience – how can connected car data help dealers to build an ongoing relationship with customers?

One such model is to pair the vehicle to a dealership or authorised service centre of the vehicle owner’s choice. This allows the designated dealer to proactively monitor the vehicle.

Combining the data coming from the vehicle and service history enables the dealer to provide individually tailored service offers to the customer. The cost of providing this service can be partly offset by the dealership in return for business from the customer.

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