Cars and Money: The Future of Tech
Stephen Magennis, MD for Quality Business at Expleo, analyses how technology has driven society forward, since 2010.
The 2010s have been a decade of significant change, driven by technological advances which are showing little sign of slowing. Alongside this, market growth across multiple industries is being increasingly challenged by consumer behaviour. New challenges are being laid down and to remain relevant, UK businesses are facing tough decisions on how to best align to the current economic climate.
With significant change comes great opportunity. As we look forward to 2020 and the next decade, it must be an acknowledged that in spite of market challenges, it is an exciting time for businesses who are looking to use technology to drive their future success. Below, I examine two landmark fields where the future is already being shaped.
Driving Automotive into the future
The automotive industry has been utterly transformed in recent years, and while we may not be flying Jetsons-style from A to B – enormous progress has been made in developing the vehicles of the future.
Throughout the last decade, progress in the Automotive sector has focused on three key areas: Electric Vehicles (EVs), connected cars and safety and security. These workstreams are the foundations upon which the next generation of Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology will rest.
In the same way that the Internet of Things offers improvements to our home lives through increased convenience, enhanced comfort and better use of resources, the development of the data network between connected vehicles is making our roads safer, and transport smarter.
Original Equipment Manufacturers in the Automotive industry have recognised that the mechanics of the future will not be tinkering with engines and oil levels. They will be coders, working out how to increase vehicle efficiency, improve carbon neutral technology, and maximise customer experience from road data gathered by connected cars.
Perhaps most importantly, connected technology provides insights on where, how and when accidents are most likely to happen, in a way that has never been possible before. This is a huge leap forward for society. With the first UK trials of AVs. Efficient route data – both in terms of journey planning and identifying best petrol prices and rest stops along the way – adaptive mapping, weather information, and applications which personalise the experience all contribute to making time spent on the road more pleasant. Imagine what Benz and Ford would say if they were alive today?!
Currency has been used to trade in exchange for goods and services for millennia. Each evolution has been prompted by a shift in convenience. Bartering? Too variable. Bronze replicas? Too cumbersome. Metal coins? Too heavy. Paper? Too bulky.
For a long time, plastic cards seemed to have cracked the problem: easily portable, quick, convenient. Then Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, which represented a seismic cultural shift in how we go about our daily lives.
Calls and correspondence? Smartphone. Diaries and calendars? Smartphone. Notebook? Smartphone. Entertainment? Smartphone. Internet? Smartphone. Shopping? Smartphone.
This one device enables us to stay connected and productive in so many ways, that it was inevitable it would also be the catalyst for another evolution in the story of currency. Contactless payments are designed to be seamless and convenient. One tap, and the shopper is on to their next errand. Simple.
Arguably, of all the technologies which have emerged over the last ten years, contactless payment has claim on being the most impactful on our daily lives.
Here it is worth thinking of the proverbial swan, calm and collected floating on the lake’s surface, yet paddling away under the water. The technology used to deploy, integrate and support contactless systems is complex. Layers of data and functionality are in play, with security constantly being tested, reviewed and enhanced so users can remain confident that their money is protected.
Across travel, retail, entertainment and beyond, experts are already looking for the next technology evolution in the payment space that will ensure customer experience remains paramount. In the early 2020s, we are likely to see regulation technology move into the spotlight while biometrics become mainstream.
The businesses leading the charge will be those who can ensure systems are fit for purpose, delivering a simple user interface and offering rigorously-tested security.
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To the future
2020 marks the beginning of a new era of ambition, courage and bold thinking for businesses who embrace innovation. While Automotive and Finance can be regarded as early adopters in terms of technology, they are not alone in seeking to evolve. The key to maximising technological success will be through learnings shared across sectors.
Tech convergence will sustain the synergies of the future. For example, developments in the Finance industry will benefit the Retail sector; Automotive progress can deliver advantages to Aerospace; and supply chain innovations can transform the Entertainment industry. As technological advances revolutionise these sectors, efforts to drive efficiencies, improve processes and overhaul supply chains will become central to delivering best-in-class customer service.
The pace of change which will propel us to 2030 will not be without its own challenges. But it will be exhilarating. We may yet see those Jetsons cars floating about our cities – and much more beyond.
For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe.
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.”