Making the most of the future in automotive logistics14 March 2017 | Josie Byrne
The right technical partnership is critical to allowing logistics networks to derive full value from the internet of things
Brand advocacy is key in the high-value world of automotive sales, making the need to provide a convenient and enjoyable customer experience critical to success. But this experience doesn’t end at payment – retailers need to ensure that the stage between transaction and delivery leaves customers satisfied and that their high expectations are met.
Leading global manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is a prime example of how automotive companies can continue to innovate and use technology to their advantage to consistently meet customer expectations.
To manage its quality process, JLR has made significant investment in the development of its product monitoring systems, which provide valuable feedback to the business to ensure quality remains at the heart of its ongoing development.
JLR now benefits from integrated graphical functionality that streamlines the reporting process for users at all levels. It reports owner experiences and captures any issues that arise, whether they come up via warranty, roadside assistance or owner surveys. This investment in software ensures the customer experience is optimised by removing laborious or potentially frustrating processes.
Another essential part of delivering on customer expectations is ensuring the supply chain is efficient. Yet many automotive companies are still struggling to run a seamless operation behind the scenes. This misalignment with the public-facing side of the business can lead to numerous problems – not least delayed delivery times, lost customer loyalty and damaged reputation.
A common pitfall for automotive retailers is that often, the big data they generate is not shared across the entire organisation, meaning that channels begin operating in silos. As a result, information and insights are not distributed to relevant departments.
Despite this, our recent digital transformation survey revealed that only 13% of automotive organisations are currently investing in data connectivity. This means many organisations are not operating cost-effectively and are failing to provide their customers with the experiences they expect.
The key to being able to share valuable data insights throughout an organisation lies in the internet of things (IoT).
Companies need to objectively review the customer journey they offer, looking at each touchpoint and every stage behind the scenes to recognise where greater connectivity is needed within the organisation and to deliver on their promises.
One way greater levels of connectivity can enhance the customer experience is through real-time communication between suppliers and manufacturers. IoT-enabled vehicles can alert the owner’s local garage that a part in the car is faulty and will need replacing within the next 100 miles. This allows garages to ensure relevant parts are available and that stock levels meet demand, letting them turn around repairs and projects in a timely manner while remaining cost-effective.
Through optimising IoT capabilities, the supply chain can operate seamlessly, providing customers with a positive brand experience end-to-end while enabling timely updates and data to be shared among departments in the same organisation. Such an approach will also make it much easier for organisations to operate a just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing model, which saves money by reducing storage needs and also production of surplus parts and materials.
So why haven’t more companies embraced this level of connectivity when the benefits of IoT are clear?
Actually, many organisations are already seeking to achieve a high level of inter-connectedness but there are a few logistical barriers that need to be overcome. One of the most significant is security. This is because the greater the volume of data being generated from an increasing number of touchpoints, the more vulnerable an organisation becomes to a breach.
To tackle this, companies need to invest in agile software that empowers IoT-enabled devices to provide the connectivity needed while securing gateways. Although this may initially sound daunting, the right technical partnership will allow for a safely revolutionised logistics process. And not only will this make meeting the customer’s ongoing needs a lot easier, but a leaner, more responsive supply chain will have bottom line cost benefits for the organisation concerned.
Josie Byrne is account director for automotive and transport at Black Pepper Software