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'Big data' is now the automotive retail sector's biggest driver, opinion

The newly-appointed head of Keyloop's Alliances division Megan Harvey has a vision of automotive retail which sees 'big data' join the dots between sales, aftersales, customer relations and mobility.

In this exclusive Automotive Management (AM) 'guest opinion' article she outlines the direction she sees the sector heading.

The automotive industry is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. Ownership and retail models are changing with OEMs and retailers redefining their relationships with each other and the consumer.

If the benefits of new ways of working are to be realised, the industry will need to fundamentally reappraise how it uses data if it’s to improve the customer experience and find a more efficient way of operating.

OEMs need to connect dealers and a long chain of supply partners to a real-time, shared, single customer view. It’s an approach that will deliver a seamless experience to the customer but will also drive the efficient operation of the sales process and aftersales.

If automotive manufacturers don't improve and digitise their client experiences, they won't be in a position to grow into tomorrow's mobility providers.

A vast amount of value remains untapped in automotive data, from richer consumer and vehicle data to the use of AI in advanced analytics and predictive modelling. Data can be used to unlock sales opportunities and drive efficiencies through all processes.

Big data in the automotive sector comprises information on consumer behaviour, preferences, and information on locations and driving habits. This can be combined with vehicle data to anticipate SMR issues and opportunities to generate aftersales revenue. It will also help guide the manufacturing process with real-time feedback on performance.

Automotive engineers are already using data analytics and AI to model a vehicle's performance. It is likely that with an increased flow of data that model iterations and advances will be made more quickly with the use of digital twin technologies that create a digital version of the vehicle that be tested rapidly in the virtual environment. The industry will see a marked acceleration in the roll-out of new technologies and models as a result.

Predictive analytics is widely used to understand consumer buying trends and to forecast the future utilising methods like data mining/modelling, machine learning, and AI. It enables OEMs and retailers to better anticipate consumer trends in the future and make better-informed decisions.

Customers can be proactively engaged with the right offer at the right time to add value to their ownership journey. Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a measure of the average customer's revenue generated over their entire relationship with a company. It will increasingly be important as OEMs seek to drive revenue from in-life sales such as over-the-air subscriptions and MaaS models.

Data will help OEMs and dealers anticipate customer needs and fulfil them before the customer looks elsewhere.

The change is happening now. Industry estimates show the potential car-buying cohort in 2025 will consist of more than 45% millennials. They will make up the largest segment of new-car buyers, making it crucial for OEMs and retailers to comprehend and cater to their tastes.

To predict the needs of this first generation of integrated-mobility clients over the next five to ten years, automotive players need to look beyond the automotive sector.

The consumer technology industry is a wonderful location to seek ideas since businesses like Airbnb, Amazon, and Uber consistently raise the bar for what constitutes a great digital customer experience.

Today’s consumers demand a seamless and dependable service, capable advisory roles, personalised omnichannel communication, round-the-clock assistance, and pertinent social media.

The industry will need to work together to deliver these changes. Technology teams will be required to work in partnership, and data must flow seamlessly between companies to enable the benefits to be unlocked.

It’s an approach that underpins the mission of the Alliances division at Keyloop, which is bringing together people and technology from across the industry to accelerate change.

Together we can deliver the change that is required and keep the automotive industry at the forefront of technology and customer experience.

Author: Megan Harvey is EVP of Alliances and OEMs at Keyloop.

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