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Digital transformation in the automotive industry

Cars parked in huge cylindrical parking lot - automotive industry
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The automotive industry is in the midst of transformative change led by innovations in cloud technology. In a world where consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, desire for mobility options, and their automobile to be as personalized as their smartphone, we can expect the pace of change in the automotive space to accelerate. The durable trends of sustainability, safety, convenience, and personalization are pretty consistent, but what is driving these trends and change is technology.

About the author

Bill Foy is Director of Worldwide Automotive Specialist Solutions for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Cloud computing is one of the major technological forces reshaping the automotive industry. Agility and speed are the main benefits of moving to the cloud. It creates efficiencies, delivers powerful insights, and enables new, agile business models across the entire value chain. Additionally, the cloud enables non-cloud native companies to reinvent themselves. Cloud technology helps automotive customers lead that change with expertise in four key areas:

New technologies

New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) and High Performance Computing (HPC) are enabling new automotive applications and services – such as simple use cases to communicate road conditions, to more complex edge-enabled uses cases for Autonomous Driving (ADAS). Automakers can use cloud computing to apply the latest advancements in AI to help produce cars that are safer, more accessible, and more environmentally friendly. For example, by using a virtual server to deploy applications, automakers are seeing a faster time-to-train than they had previously, reducing their training time from days to hours. This gives automakers significant agility to optimize and retrain their models quickly and to deploy them in their test cars or simulation environments for further testing. In addition, the significant performance improvement in next gen technology, coupled with a pay-as-you-go model enabled by cloud, translates to lower operating costs for the advanced development of software for automated driving.

Data

Data is the foundation of all mobility businesses in the future, and is transforming the industry by creating a greater speed of development for autonomous features for safety, providing a higher level of personalization, and leading optimized usage of energy for sustainability. An automaker with the ability to discover, unlock, and share data across customer touch points can develop actionable insights and new product features. For example, rich datasets in automotive today come from the vehicle itself, smart cities where the vehicle is operating, in the AV training and simulation models, and from the manufacturing process. One major challenge to connected vehicle adoption from automakers is disparate data coming from a multitude of sensors—which is why despite over one billion vehicles on the road today, only around 50 million are connected. This is where cloud computing can help; the cloud has the ability to decode data, normalize it, and put it in a single format so any user can take advantage of clean, precise, developer-friendly data all in one place to accelerate business. The possibilities are endless. Using data for offering prescriptive services in areas like vehicle health prognostics, driver behavior, demand management services, and fuel consulting, will bring a remarkable change in the user experience and innovative services in the years to come.

Industrial IoT

A truly connected enterprise is the ultimate goal of an automotive company that is mature in its digital transformation. Through the use of data lakes, enterprises can gain valuable insights of what is happening with vehicles on the road. They can then share these insights back to the manufacturing and design teams to create operational efficiencies, improve quality, and accelerate innovation. This advancement in technology can also impact smart factories, by enabling industrial automation to use ML at the edge to analyze images and video to detect quality issues on fast moving assembly lines. Automakers that are using the cloud to efficiently process data will be able to improve their total operations from supplier to end vehicle to realize efficiencies of up to 30 percent.

Culture

Many automakers are well on their way of transforming their business culture from legacy metal works to software-driven technology companies. With data and the cloud in the picture, the road opens up for platforms and partnerships in the sector, enabling them to be hyper-focused where they can differentiate themselves in the market. To do this requires expertise and insights on what makes an innovative business culture. As automakers strive to nurture a culture of digital innovation, there are many lessons that can be shared between them and the cloud companies driving digital transformation within the automotive industry. Automakers should look to work with customer-centric companies that prioritize hiring and retaining top talent. Companies that work backwards to solve business challenges also make ideal partners that can complement automakers and reinforce the vision of the connected future they are both working toward.

In a world where agile development, rapid deployment and unlimited scale are the new normal, the cloud can help automakers succeed in their digital transformation journey.

Bill Foy is Director of Worldwide Automotive Specialist Solutions for Amazon Web Services (AWS).