Six analytics lessons from the automotive roundtable


Increasingly, automotive executives want to talk about the "Art of the Possible" in analytics. So we took the opportunity to invite leaders around the industry to an Automotive Analytics Executive Roundtable to share their stories and spark new ideas. A myriad of diverse speakers covered a variety of topics on big data/Hadoop, the connected vehicle, customer experience, building a culture of analytics, and innovative retail analytics.

To open the day, we discussed how analytics can address key issues facing the automotive industry. One topic was the use of analytics to address changing consumer access and rise of consumer voice and influence through online channels which enable better insight to product design and quality. With global manufacturing supply chains, the challenges and opportunities to adequately plan, forecast and optimize inventory and pricing are numerous. As we looked at "connected everything," we explored use cases for the connected vehicle, factory, dealer and consumer. None of these are possible without the use of big data analytics. Keep reading for my top six lessons from the day that I hope you can use too:

Analytics in Automotive
Analytics address key issues facing the Automotive industry.

1. Hadoop can spread the adoption of analytics. Mike Olson , Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Cloudera, discussed where Big Data and Hadoop are headed.  We learned how big data is enabling companies to answer questions they never could before, including success stories around customer experience, proactive customer support, predicting failures and cybersecurity.  Hadoop is leading to pervasive analytics at scale, extending beyond data scientists.  It was clear from Mike’s discussion how Hadoop is an enabler and perfect complement to advanced analytics.

2. Analytics will be an essential part of the connected car ecosystem. Associate Principal at McKinsey, John Newman, provided perspective based on McKinsey's recent research, Connected Car, automotive value chain unbound.  Their research highlighted the importance of the connected ecosystem.  While their research highlights consumers' concerns about hacking and privacy, it was also extremely clear that proper customer experience efforts related to connectivity are a way to increase loyalty with consumers.  In fact, the overall market for the connected vehicle could reach $230 billion by 2020.

3. In-memory analytics can help big data projects succeed. Volvo Truck's Director of Warranty Operations discussed several use cases for big data analytics leveraging telematics data. Most notably, he highlighted how Volvo is using analytics around sensor quality, optimizing uptime, software updates and predictive repairs.  These were clearly big data projects that could run the risk of sending "IT into a tailspan," but the use of in-memory analytics enabled them to unearth key insights.  These use cases are a sub-set of the broader opportunities we discussed in the opening comments in this area - to learn more view a short video that highlights how analytics can add value to telematics data from the Connected Vehicle.

4. Self-fund analytics projects by starting small and building on success. Volkswagen has been pushing the envelope around business analytics for customer experienceOnur Ulgen, President of ABA, a strategic partner with VW, presented how the importance of modeling around customer experience indicator, customer lifetime value, in-segment, and in-market timing can be used for goodwill and better proactive targeting of clients to keep them loyal.  These efforts are improving the customer experience while driving strong ROI.  A senior data and business intelligence leader from Volkswagen discussed how iterative quick hits around analytics can prove value and make analytics efforts self-funding.

5. An analytics culture can be as important as the technology. Keith Moody, Director of Analytics at Bridgestone Retail Operations, gave a stirring talk about Building an Analytics Culture, during which he discussed leadership, capability, application/measurement, systems and structure.  We learned a simple view to what analytics is and is not, and the importance of making bold moves to instill success when in a “new beginning", and how to work with those who are “unsure, but curious” and the “advocate/evangelists.”   He highlighted the importance of knowing your audience and focusing on business results, which can ultimately ensure analytics has a strategic seat at the table.

6. Dealerships can benefit from the Internet of Things too. In a session on Connected Analytics for Automotive Retail, Scott Bergquist, Director of Analytics for Cisco, discussed the importance of pervasive data access, optimized analytics and real-time connected solutions for the Internet of Everything - an area Cisco sees $7.3 trillion of value in the next 10 years. Scott provided a case study example of an innovative way to leverage location, wifi, video and social to gain insights on shopper behavior in the dealership with analytics.  This proved a great way to conclude the day, as the attendees left with unique thoughts about how best to enable their dealerships to drive optimal offers and experiences to sell more vehicles.

Throughout the day, the group of speakers and clients in attendance engaged in open dialogue, and were able to both hear from Jill Dyche, SAS' VP of Best Practices, and to take home signed copies of Jill's latest book, "The New IT."

We at SAS consider ourselves fortunate to be in such good company with clients and partners proving the value of advanced analytics in their business every day.  Our team was excited to spend the day with the speakers and a strong attendance from our clients, with whom we constantly strive to help them get the most value from SAS analytics.

We look forward to future opportunities to engage with our clients, and enable sharing, collaboration and networking to tackle and solve new problems together.


In June, 2015 we brought the Automotive Analytics Executive Forum to Detroit. It was equally filled with insights and learnings from industry experts. Read more about it in my blog post, Competing and disrupting with analytics in Automotive.


About Author

Norm Marks

Director, Automotive & Manufacturing

Norm heads up the Automotive Industry team at SAS, leading SAS' strategy, sales and go-to-market efforts to help our Automotive clients make better business decisions. He has held various senior leadership positions in the industry and uses his experience to drive value for his clients.

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