Navigating the Oceans of Data Behind Connected Transport
Many people think of Microsoft as the maker of the software running their computers, and that's true, but now Microsoft is also deeply involved in the transformation of automotive companies from traditional manufacturers to mobility services providers.
Data is driving digital transformation in the automotive industry, but it brings unique challenges for the automotive industry now struggling to cope with the sheer volume of data now available.
A partner in Michelin's Moving'on Lab, Microsoft is bringing this digital transformation about through networked data, connected vehicles and operations, intelligent automation and a digitally-enabled supply chain.
Microsoft isn't building its own connected car. Instead, the company is helping automakers create connected car solutions that fit with their brands, address their customers’ unique needs, competitively differentiate their products and generate new and sustainable revenue streams.
It's all demonstrated in an August 2020 report called "Reimagining Automotive" by business intelligence platform PSFK in partnership with Microsoft. The two companies hope that the report’s insights can help manufacturers, OEMs and dealers understand how cloud-based solutions can transform their businesses to drive new levels of service along the value chain from customers to employees to partners.
"Smart mobility is connecting everything, easing the ability to travel from point A to point B with direct benefits to the environment, improved productivity, and greater resource efficiency on everyday services," wrote Sanjay Ravi, General Manager, Automotive Industry Microsoft, in his foreword to the report.
"Things like data monetization, in-car productivity, vehicle-sharing, ride-hailing, multi-modal transportation, and fleet management are just a few of the bold mobility strategies that are changing the automotive business model forever," Ravi said. “We are seeing automated driving capabilities take off at scale as consumers become more comfortable with these technologies.”
”OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS, ONE-THIRD OF THE MILES BEING DRIVEN WILL BE SHARED MILES,” RAVI SAID.
The problem with cloud computing services today is that they're slow, especially for artificial intelligence-enabled workloads. This essentially disqualifies the cloud for serious use in deterministic
applications, such as autonomous vehicle piloting, and transportation traffic routing, Microsoft explained in a different report, released in July 2019.
To speed things up, Microsoft is developing accelerators that streamline app development and shorten time to value by empowering partners and customers to quickly build and deploy vertical solutions.
Each industry accelerator, including the one for the automotive industry, is built in collaboration with a wide range of customers, partners, and industry experts to develop a unified, common data language for each vertical. And to democratize digital transformation, each accelerator is free on AppSource and open-source on GitHub.
The automotive industry accelerators deliver value to the industry by standardizing data frameworks and enabling interoperability, leading to more collaboration and openness to drive processes forward, according to Microsoft.
The director of automotive business strategy at Microsoft is Darren Coil, who has crunched all the numbers and come up with a figure estimating how an automotive company can make improvements using Microsoft's intelligent automation.
”THE ALREADY PROVEN BOTTOM LINE BUSINESS BENEFIT FOR INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION IS 15-20 PERCENT IMPROVEMENT IN NET INCOME, HOLDING ALL THE VARIABLES CONSTANT,” COIL SAID.
"We’ve seen factories increase their production with the same set of fixed assets that they have. We’ve seen companies improve their cash positions by reducing the inventory they carry,” Coil explained. “We’ve seen companies improve their quality, reducing warranty returns and claims. We’ve seen companies improve their quality in line, reducing scrap during production. It is straight bottom line net income improvements for companies."
"Just as important as the technology adoption is the cultural change because if you don’t change the culture at the same time you roll out new technology, the technology will just go idle quickly," Coil advised. "It’s a plant cultural change that you have to do from the top down. lt has to be role modeled by the leadership and you have to spend the time training for people to get comfortable with it.”
Most important is what Coil calls unlocking employee potential, helping the employees understand how they, as human beings, will still be valuable to the company alongside the outsized influence of big data.
Sources: Microsoft & PSFK report "Reimagining Automotive," Microsoft report, "Transform Automotive with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Automotive Accelerator," Wikipedia