How to mine automotive data to achieve your own success in the digital revolution

(Image credit: Future)

What do the GPS, the Apple iPod and the Sony Walkman have in common? All of them were completely new to the world when they were first introduced, and made a difference to people’s lives. But it didn’t stop there - they were challenged by even more disruptive inventions from competing brands, as consumer desires constantly shift and became more demanding.

Inventions don’t just happen overnight. Businesses left, right and centre are using data to uncover hidden patterns, insights and find new solutions which can enable them to unleash new technologies into people’s lives and be the next new thing.

The automotive industry is and has been in the process of significant change thanks to advances in data and technology. In mainstream media, the wheels are in motion for the release of driverless cars, and the momentum has been huge. But it’s not just the manufacturers that can utilise data - it’s the auto parts sellers, the garages, the breakdown specialists and more. They can all use data to achieve new levels of success.

Andy Allan, Owner at CAT Autokeys explains how:

Before you gather and analyse data, you need to know what’s going on in the industry to work out how you can use the data to your own benefit. First things first: no business is immune to the effects of the digital transformation, no matter how loyal your customer base is right now. Technology makes their lives easier, so if you can’t offer them what they want, or aren’t using technology in the right way to boost efficiency, you can be sure that they will be able to find one of your close competitors that do. It’s a saturated market, so if you fail to learn in advance, you will be slow to react.

An industry trend might not directly affect you in 2019, but by 2022 it almost definitely will have. You need to be able to analyse and handle data and the benefits that come with it. Update your news feed with relevant topics, have monthly learning sessions with your employees, subscribe to trade journals, go to a digital course, and remember to network in your industry. There is little point having access to data if you do not know what to do with it. Once you’re clued up, it’s time to work out how to use the data that you have...

Driver behaviour

According to a recent report by Mckinsey, a connected vehicle today generates 25 GB of data per hour. There is a treasure trove of consumer data available out there for you to use, but you can also look at your own business data to make decisions. Driver behaviour, for instance, can allow you to look at geographical movements, route patterns and safety statistics such as speeding and harsh braking. This data is important as you can see if there are correlations between driver behaviour and speed, insurance services can offer tailored prices to different drivers as opposed to grouping people into large boxes, and you can even give the drivers insight into their behaviour to see if there is a way that they could save costs.

Make decisions with vehicle performance

Vehicle performance data can unlock a treasure trove of opportunities for those in the auto parts and service industries. With predictive-based analytics, the vehicle can flag up when it is due maintenance to avoid failure, and extra fixing. Data can also enable the servicer to accurately identify parts that need repairing easily, improving the efficiency of the process and bettering the customer experience while also reducing the handling cost and repair time. This data can enable the business to make better decisions, estimate accurately with the comprehensive data and ultimately prevent failure.

On-board diagnostics (OBD)

Data is so powerful because it offers all parties benefits - customers, partners and the business itself. Almost all cars have some sort of on-board diagnostics, and when a sensor detects a problem with the car, the dashboard pops up alerting the driver to said issue with a code, which they often have a complicated task of understanding and getting fixed. But now the OBD can be used to provide a better breakdown service, or rather, prevent the break down entirely.

Software such as the AA’s Car Genie plugs into the OBD port, reads the vehicles OBD in real time, broadcasts the information to the app which the user has on their phone or smart device, and immediately notifies them of issues so they can download the information. Not only does this help to prevent problems before they get worse, but the AA can also use this to gather data on faults and any correlations.

Combine data

As mentioned earlier, you can use data to find correlations between vehicles, items, behaviour and even traffic. You can compare the vehicle mileage for different makes and models, which will allow you to predict service intervals. You can also use maintenance data in combination with parts failure to find correlations. For example, in the race to build smart cities, some government associations are combining driver data analysis or traffic insights with urban planning initiatives, to understand where the most traffic-congested places appear, and when you combine this data with other sources from mobile phones and satellites, you get a holistic vision into traffic management.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

Making it much easier to gain visibility of your business operations, ERP can help automotive parts manufacturers to trace their products throughout the entire life cycle. In turn, this minimises delays, makes it easier to meet regulatory requirements and helps with tracking costs, eliminating waste in terms of money and time.

One of the biggest culprits of time wastage is poorly organised inventories. ERP opens up better visibility into your inventory levels, so worries over running out of stock are a thing of the past. You have a clear, data-led view of stock and its sell-rate, so you don’t have to risk disappointing customers by running out, without having to overbuy. For extra peace of mind, ERP software automates tasks such as purchasing, which saves even more time, minimises human error and frees up time for humans to do more creative, bespoke jobs.

From safety statistics to location logistics, the insights available to the automotive sector through data are endless. It doesn’t just benefit the customer, but it helps you to change and develop your offering and ultimately optimise your business operations.

The automotive sector needs to embrace the digital revolution, and it’s not just the car manufacturers, but the entire supply chain. Data is no longer a minefield to use and understand with recent advances in technology, but you must have a strategy and work out what is best for your work and your audience. Data is vital in today’s world and it’s economy, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it.

Andy Allan, Owner , CAT Autokeys