Why Cloud Technology is Driving the New Automotive Era

Cloud-enabled platforms are transforming how business is done, eliciting greater collaboration and integration within companies—and more interactive experiences with consumers.
Michael LaLande Dassault Systemes Michael LaLande
Dassault Systèmes

Over the years, technological advancements in how cars are designed and manufactured have affected the automotive market. One such change is cloud-enabled platforms that are transforming how business is done, eliciting greater collaboration and integration within companies—and more interactive experiences with consumers.

The worldwide public cloud services market revenue is projected to grow 18.5% in 2017 to total $260.2 billion, up from $219.6 billion in 2016, according to Gartner. Cloud-based technology is empowering start-ups to compete with legacy automakers, forcing traditional companies to adopt new business models to survive. Couple that with the fact that the cloud allows business to scale and maneuver quickly, and you have a catalyst that transforms how vehicles are being brought to market.

Platforms Disrupt “Business as Usual”

As the automotive market evolves, there remains one commonality across all companies—the use of platforms. With the right platform, companies can have an all-in-one solution at their fingertips, enabling once siloed departments to work in tandem. The platform is an integrated system that allows seamless communication and workflow across disparate departments, resulting in fewer production cycles, enabling faster speed to market.

Think of the platform as an iPhone and the various solutions that branch off of the platform as apps that can be tailored to individual auto departments. This digital thread connects engineers, project managers and product developers, enabling them to work more efficiently and collaboratively. This streamlined business model is allowing newcomers like Tesla to gain a competitive manufacturing edge.

Tesla has a mission to make electricity a viable alternative to petroleum-based vehicles. Using a platform solution, Tesla was able to efficiently and collaboratively manufacture its vehicles—connecting all aspects of the operation to eliminate data boundaries, compress lead times and reduce costs in development. Ultimately, using a platform removed confusion across the operation, allowing Tesla to deliver quality solutions to market quickly.

With information available in real time on one platform, automakers are able to continuously develop and share information to break down data silos and expedite the production process from concept to creation. This ultimately adds value for automakers to spend that time making more informed business decisions.

How Cloud Levels the Playing Field

The cloud is allowing the smallest companies to be nimble and compete with staid industry giants. With the digitalization of business, legacy companies that have manufactured cars the same way for 50 years must explore new models or quickly become outdated and outperformed by startups that are embracing digital transformation as a starting point. Because the cloud can be accessed from anywhere, automakers are able to work cohesively across departments and globally to deliver a more customizable and competitive experience for customers.

Built on a cloud-based platform, solutions like the Virtual Garage are allowing consumers to interact with virtual cars without ever seeing a physical model, allowing them to customize and tailor in real time. The Virtual Garage was developed in response to today’s mass customization phenomenon, and the platform provides automotive companies like Peugeot and DS Automobiles with a dynamic new way to showcase their innovation.

Recently at the 86th Geneva International Motor Show, visitors to Peugeot’s booth wore an HTC Vive headset and controlled a joystick to virtually view, explore and interact with its new DS 3. Viewers were able to change the roof and body colors and choose the trims and interior décor — all without stepping foot into a car. With each change, visitors “saw” their customized DS 3 updated in real time.

The automotive market will continue to undergo massive changes over the next few years. Today’s manufacturers are enduring challenges that were not seen by their predecessors. As digital transformation continues to drive change across this industry, it’s the manufacturers that have the right thinking, strategy and tools that will drive this industry forward.

Michael LaLande is director of Americas Transportation & Mobility at Dassault Systèmes (3DS.com).

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