Those in the automotive industry must embrace new technologies to stay relevant. Source: Shutterstock.

Those in the automotive industry must embrace new technologies to stay relevant. Source: Shutterstock.

The automotive sector can’t wait for change, they must act now

OVER THE YEARS, the automotive industry has seen much change.

From enterprise systems to automation solutions, companies in the automotive industry have invested billions in emerging technologies.

However, automakers are still struggling to leverage data, in the new ecosystem we live in.

This holds especially true for traditional automakers who are saddled with legacy infrastructures and product portfolios. Soon, they might be forced to shut down or sell operations to smarter, data-driven competitors.

Automotive companies that want to avoid that fate must invest in understanding and leveraging data.

The value of data

Data is everywhere, and automotive players must harness its potential to future-proof themselves.

Data that feeds digital twins — a virtual duplicate of every physical object involved in the manufacturing process — for example, will be useful to most automotive companies.

Using the right analytical tools, digital twins can help with data visualization, giving insights that optimize business performance.

Digital throughput across value chains and life cycles will generate a ton of data daily.

Companies that will dominate the automotive field are those that can successfully capture and analyze that data, unlocking opportunities to accelerate along the innovation curve.

Key challenges

The shortage of talent remains one key challenge that automotive companies face when it comes to implementing digital solutions.

With the type and scale of data generated by digital twins, there is a high demand for engineers trained in handling unstructured data and proficient in big-data tools.

The same issue persists on the shop floor as well. Soon, there will be a shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing industry, leading to an exponential increase in unfilled jobs.

Also, the implementation of digital initiatives often fail because of legacy corporate procedures. These must be relevantly updated with appropriate governance in place to put forward-looking digital pilots in gear.

Furthermore, standardization is key when it comes to implementing core systems that underpin data-driven applications.

Much progress needs to be made, however. Various bodies are working on establishing individual sets of standards, but they are competing, with no clarity on which will prevail.

The way forward

Aiming for small wins is a good start on the transformation journey.

By starting small, companies can generate success stories that communicate the value and importance of transformation to investors and employees.

Once an official transformation program is in place, it can help identify the determinants of success, and tie them back to core enterprise value propositions and growth drivers.

Surviving in the current landscape is so much more than just implementing technological solutions.

To thrive, automotive industries must be willing to reinvent all aspects of their business, such as the manufacturing process and customer experience — and data is the way to do it.

Isolated technological fixes are no substitute for a long-term technology strategy. Once a company recognizes that, they will be ready to succeed in this competitive industry.