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Digital transformation in the automotive industry trends

From machine to mindset: Unmissable digital transformation trends in the automotive industry

It began as a novel approach to a simple problem: getting from one place to another faster and more efficiently. When Henry Ford was constructing his first experimental car in a workshop behind his Detroit home, no one — not even Ford—could have envisioned the tectonic cultural shift that would come next.

Over a century and a multibillion-dollar industry later, we are at yet another inflection point — but this time, it’s not just about the vehicles we drive. The changing digital automotive landscape is poised to fundamentally alter the industry that designs, manufactures, and sells them. It’s no longer about the machine but the mindset that surrounds it.

The lines between physical and digital get blurrier every day, and the automotive industry is no exception. As is the case with virtually all other physical goods, today’s consumers — specifically millennials — aren’t satisfied with just a quality product. Today and in the future, the brands that deliver a multisensory experience will ultimately win customer mindshare —especially as consumer demands shift from simply purchasing a vehicle to achieving mobility and, more broadly, the freedom to move.

For modern automotive brands and the tangential industries they have an affect on, hesitation is no longer an option. Here’s a glimpse of what we see on the horizon for the automotive industry and the race toward relevancy in the digital age.

Bringing data full circle

Although manufacturers have long recognized the value of gathering data about the health of a vehicle — tire pressure, fuel level, and oil life, just to name a few — innovators in the space are now beginning to tap into insights gained from combining more holistic data sets about a vehicle’s performance, usage, and driveability. Today, a car is only as good as the experience it provides to the driver and passenger — an experience that belongs to whoever owns the data ecosystem on which it relies.

The changing face of the “premium” automotive experience

Just as consumer expectations about the digital driving experience increase, so does their understanding of what can and should go into the entire buying and driving experience as a whole. Brands can no longer define themselves exclusively by how a vehicle performs on the road because increasingly sophisticated customers buy into an overall driving experience rather than just the car itself.

Now and into the future, the terms “luxury” and “premium” will belong first and foremost to the brands that focus just as much time and energy on the entire customer journey—from researching a car online through to the maintenance and servicing experience—as they do on what’s under the hood.

The far-reaching impact of autonomous cars

The rise of autonomous vehicles is already changing the driving experience at a fundamental level — but its impact will be felt far beyond the automotive industry. The rise of autonomous commuting is set to disrupt property values, supply chains, and consumer industries — due in large part to the fact that autonomous vehicles no longer require the undivided attention of human beings to operate them.

Autonomous cars are poised to fundamentally alter tangential industries and even give rise to entirely new ones as the human element in driving will have nothing to do with simply being in the driver’s seat. The question is how will these tangential industry leaders not just keep up but come out on top?


Redefining success in the automotive industry

With the rise of autonomous vehicles and ever-smarter digital systems that streamline our commutes, the rules of the road are changing — as are the elements that define success. If automotive brands in the digital age expect to not only stay relevant but come out ahead, they’ll need to capitalize upon the confluence of hardware and software to create the intuitive digital experiences drivers crave.

Consumers’ expectations regarding the driving experience are already changing — automotive brands today will need to think bigger than behind the wheel. In this multi-installment series, we’ll continue to uncover how transforming expectations about the driving experience will alter both the automotive industry and society as a whole.

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