RALEIGH – Dennis Ephlin, IBM’s Digital Strategist, Global Automotive Center of Competence, had an important message for attendees at the Automotive Intelligence Summit held in Raleigh this week.

“Future success in the auto industry won’t be measured in sales or transactions, but rather by experiences and connections,” said Ephlin, who works with global leaders in the automotive industry.

It was a message that many speakers  and panelists were telling the audience. Aritificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics are changing the way the automotive industry is building and selling cars.

“There is a common theme,” said Ephlin. “Disruptors are interested in access not assets. How do I engage with customers and how do they engage with me?”

These are questions the traditional automotive companies must also ask themselves.

WRAL TechWire photo

IBMs Dennis Ephlin addresses Automotive Intelligence conference.

“There are many forces starting to push on the traditional supply chain,” said Ephlin. “Today, 38 percent of auto shoppers consult social media before making a car purchase.”

Crucial factors

According to Ephlin, there are three primary disruptors that are blurring industry boundaries. They are:

  1. Consumers
  2. Mobility
  3. Ecosystem

Consumers today are digitally sophisticated and expect digital engagement and experiences with brands, while mobility taps into intelligent vehicle capabilities and changes. As a result, consumers will see the rise of intelligent, intuitive and connected vehicles. An ecosystem of dynamic collaboration will enable new enterprise growth.

Behind these disruptors are the technologies that are driving them, said Ephlin:

  1. Artificial intelligence
  2. Cloud computing
  3. APIs/Microservices
  4. Cybersecurity
  5. Blockchain
  6. Internet of things

“These technologies will be the leading edge of disruption and opportunities,” said Ephlin.

The impacts of disruptors and disruptive technologies are already shaping the industry.

“Recent partnerships between companies such as Amazon and Ford, for example, have added further evidence that vehicles will not only interact with other road users, but with the home, workplace and other connected infrastructure,” said Ephlin.

This digital transformation will also impact time-to-market, core competencies and business models. Today’s car business core competencies, for example, rely on engineering while the digital business model focuses on the user experience.

Next steps

What can the industry do? Ephlin recommends:

  • Be prepared. Listen to your customers and see what they are experiencing and how they are engaging.
  • Build capabilities. Companies must ask themselves, ‘how do I continually transform myself as a company to be agile?’
  • Use your data to stay connected.
  • Consumer focus. Engage with your customers where they are.
  • Collaborations and partnerships will help create the ecosystem to meet changing demands.

At the heart of this, he added, is data.

“Cloud insight without action is just data,” said Ephlin.