Capgemini: Why Connected Cars and Carburettors Threaten the Automotive Aftermarket
Smarter cars make for smarter drivers. It’s one reason why the connected car is helping to level the playing field between consumers and independent mechanics. Today’s carburettor isn’t just a car part; it’s a connected device – connected not just to the OBD (on-board diagnostics) system, but to the other parts around it.
Now, if a mechanic sucks in his breath and tells us it’s probably the alternator, we can instantly check an app on our smartphones to verify the diagnosis.
Car makers are the main beneficiaries of this newfound consumer power. It suits makers to put more control in the driver’s hands, because a connected car is now a marketing channel to a whole raft of additional services.
The latest Chevrolet models all support 4G connections – such connectivity means car makers can not only notify drivers the second a part fails, they can also guide them to the nearest dealer with the part in stock, and predict the likely waiting time. Brand loyalty could in theory be rewarded with a queue-jumping priority pass.
The growing bond between driver and marque may be difficult to pull apart. The aftermarket, currently a $500bn global industry, stands to see the biggest changes. Despite the fact that third-party aftermarket suppliers often make superior and more cost-effective parts than OEMs, they must transform their business models, and fast, or risk irrelevance.
The key battleground is software. It’s entirely conceivable for Audi or Renault to use completely different software standards simply to program their carburettors. The challenge therefore for independent aftermarket suppliers making replacement parts is finding a cost-effective way to stay in the game.
Most will need to develop a newfound expertise in software engineering. When Marc Andreessen said that software was ‘eating the world’, he could have been referring directly to the automotive aftermarket.
Here’s the rub: If independent aftermarket suppliers choose not to make a connected carburettor, but a bog-standard one, they may still be able to manufacture a superior part to the original – but that part will register as a black hole on the diagnostics board.
A smart part that lasts for a year may in the end be more desirable than a standard ‘invisible’ part that lasts for two, because for its entire life, however short, consumers will be satisfied that the smart part is doing its job. The standard part, on the other hand, will never be able to communicate to the driver how well (or how badly) it’s performing.
Ultimately, it may be that connected parts perform better as a result of timely information reaching the driver – fitting a new air filter before the engine starts to overheat, say, or fitting new struts before they ruin the suspension.
With electric car makers such as Tesla promising to eradicate car servicing completely, traditional manufacturers will continue to push the efficiency and reliability of smarter car parts. That should mean fewer faults, fewer trips to the garage and ultimately fewer opportunities for independent aftermarket suppliers to provide their own replacements.
By Steve Jones, Capgemini’s Director of Strategy for Big Data and Analytics
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”