How Is IoT Reshaping And Transforming The Automobile Industry?

By Achin Sharma, Heading - Global IT Applications at Royal Enfield

Internet of Things (IoT) - the popular buzzword refers to the billions of devices that are physically located around the globe but are connected together via Internet to exchange and share data. It is one of the key levers of Industry 4.0 (4th industrial revolution) which brings together different aspects of production on a common platform via network, enables real time data sharing and facilitates Machine-to- Machine and Human-to-Machine interactions to trigger various actions.

IoT doesn't come to the top of mind when one thinks of the Automobile industry. But with the innovation of IoT in the last couple of years, the auto industry is certainly one of the top adopters of the technology; leveraging it mainly for promising safety, preventive maintenance and other infotainment purposes. IoT in Auto industry is not just a bandwagon that no one wants to miss but is gradually becoming a key differentiator. It influences the customer purchasing decision to a large extent mainly due to following reasons:

• Enhanced Customer Experience - Increases brand loyalty
• Competitive Edge - USPs
• Additional revenue source through license subscription and other payper-use features
• Analytics, insights and product improvement from the collected data
• Product version upgrades via Over the- air, Online push etc
• Autonomous vehicles
• Real time monitoring
• Preventive maintenance alerts and notifications

But as they say 'It's easier said than done’ - there are many impediments for the successful implementation and adoption of IoT in the Auto industry:

• Interoperability - Seamless integration of IoT devices with the traditional ERPs and legacy applications has been one of the biggest challenge 
• No single player or consortium governing the regulatory policy for this domain - most organization have acknowledged this as a potential risk
• Inadequate infrastructure – High availability and zero downtime environment, Uninterrupted data connectivity and speed etc
• Lack of skilled resources with domain expertise
• Higher cost of IoT sensors, connectivity and maintenance
Complex ecosystem
• Ubiquity – Multiple sockets, applications, devices etc

While the above challenges are more relevant for a developing economy like India there are a loT of learnings that can be leveraged from the global best practices and countries such as Germany who are ahead in this journey:

• Customer centric approach to ensure faster approach compared to standard manual features
• No single fit for all – Manufacturer and Brand should keep their respective segment and brand ethos into consideration while conceptualizing  the IoT roadmap
• Vernacular and local language support is a critical success factor
• Secured solution - To avoid hacking incidents where someone took the control of vehicles
• Factory-fitted solution compared to customfit especially in the developing world to increase the customer Confidence
• Continuous data analytics to draw  insights and improve the product, reduce maintenance cost etc

Furthermore, the statistics prove that the IoT can not only benefit the manufacturer but the entire ecosystem including following key players:

• Manufacturer – Enhance Customer Experience, Brand loyalty and additional revenue source
• Customer – Improve safety and security of both driver and vehicle
• Dealers – Preventive maintenance and service, improved CSAT
• Insurer - Insurance premium as per vehicle usage etc

How connected is the Auto industry?

According to an IoT statistics published on Internet, the total number of connected devices will reach around 30 billion by 2020 and the IoT investments will cross USD 1 trillion mark.

As per Business Insider’s premium research service, it is expected that 94 million connected cars to ship in 2021, and 82 percent of all cars shipped will be connected with IoT based device.

"   With the innovation of IoT in the last couple of years, the auto industry is certainly one of the top adopters of the technology; leveraging it mainly for promising safety,   preventive maintenance and other infotainment purposes"

Hence, it’s quite imperative for all the manufacturers to have necessary readiness to embark on this journey effectively. While all the major players are working independently (in their own areas) and are already in different stages of execution, there is a need to explore avenues of coming together and perhaps form an IoT consortium, as it’ll benefit the entire ecosystem.

In fact, the technology giants  such as Google, Microsoft, SAP etc who have a crucial role to play can also take a lead on this front to join hands and come up with a comprehensive, secure, scalable, interoperable and cost effective platform for the Auto industry. Also, there are a lot of niche and nimble players already operating in the market who can join the bandwagon and bring a lot of value to the table. Clearly, the need of the hour is to come together and ride this wave together smoothly.

I truly believe that IoT coupled with Industry 4.0 will revolutionise the entire Auto industry in coming years and shift the power in the hands of customer. In the sense, that customer will be able to design, customize his vehicle through digital tools and the online order will be placed. The same will be moved to production in a small batch using other key levers of Industry 4.0 such as 3D printing, Additive manufacturing etc thereby reducing the lead time from design to production.

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