How Digital is Driving the Automotive Sector to a Growth Highway


While interacting with a client who had come up with this unique concept of making driving safer for new learners and especially for autistic drivers, I set thinking how much has digital smoothened the roads for the automotive industry.

This change might not be visible to many of us but if you take a closer look you will realize that digital has not only helped revolutionized technology but also improved the return on engagement (ROE) directly accelerating the ROI.

Hence, automotive manufacturers who are more interested in creating solutions matching with the digital lifestyle of the customers will reap better outcomes.

In the August of 2014, Porsche and The Atlantic organised an interesting digital automotive event to size-up the thrill of racers when on the speedway, using data analytics and wearable technology, in this case Hexoskin biometric Shirt, which would gauge the driver’s breathe rate, heartbeats and other body movements. Indeed a great digital attempt at bringing healthcare and automotive industry together.


In order to achieve all-round insight in terms of production, maintenance, operations, sale as well as consumer preference it is essential that the right set of digital tools be applied in the right direction.

With the aid of analytics companies, comprehend the behavioural pattern of consumers and accordingly flip or tweak their marketing moves. While social aids in connecting with a wider audience and also create brand recall and the digital landscape has ample opportunities to exploit especially when it comes to the automotive sector.

Let’s cast a glance at how digital has improved the customer journey for the automotive consumers:

Studying Customer Touchpoints that Lead to Decision Making

After analysing the customer decision journey (CDJ), one can easily come to the conclusion that the decision-making process these days is highly dependent on community forums and reviews. Hence, marketers have already started targeting these touchpoints as the primary decision-making landmarks.

The year 2014 saw a considerable decline in automobile sales on a global scale, which led the automobile giants rethink their business plans such that it could collaborate with socioeconomic changes taking place across the world. The chief transformation taking place globally was digital and since the automotive industry remains limited to the hands of few OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) this paved way for the new players to make their ingress in the industry.

Moreover, as the focus of digital is more customer-centric hence enhancing customer experience is the prime focus.

The buyers today rely on the following factors when it comes to making a purchase decision:

1. Buying Experience matters as much as the Product Experience

The customer today bond better with companies that provide better pre and after sale services than merely going for a proclaimed high-quality product. As mentioned earlier, the automotive market is concentrated in the hands of few big players therefore to get noticed in this sector it is critical that you impress the buyer by making complete experience simply great from him, right from the awareness to the purchase and service part.

The digital showroom concept, the best example is Audi brings real-time experience right on your screen, also letting you book a test drive at your convenience. You feel like visiting a physical store from the comforts of your office or home and there it is, all the information right in front of you; ultimately helping you in making the purchase decision easily.


2. Digital Channels for the Digital Customers

In case of automotive sales the biggest challenge is the inability to reach out to customers away from the retail store. Also, the segment of interested buyers themselves approach the seller, which means that you need to create your brand presence over the digital channels such that it creates effective brand recall and shares worthy customer reviews about you. Based on a report by McKinsey the online car sale in Germany is 5 million against the total 6 million sale, which includes both used and new automobiles.

3. Smooth Changeover from Online to Offline Sale Experience

Once the customer comes into your contact the most critical turn of the journey arrives.

Whether it is through the digital showroom or directly visiting the physical outlet, you need to ensure that you are able to live up to the expectations and image you have set in the mind of the customers. Apart from test drive and other sales related services, the digital customer expects you to provide them with something classier, which might include adding more technologically rich features.

In order to make the transition from online to offline sale smooth the marketing strategy needs to work in tandem with the sale mechanism. For an unquestionable CDJ it is crucial that your customer has readily available offline services too.

Applying Analytics to Transform Automation Sales Figures

Web browsing data or demand data is useful only after it has been properly applied to gain some insights.

Collection of data from financing companies; marketing agencies which are dedicatedly carrying out market research to capture the evolving buyer trends and making use of digitization to study what is luring the buyers’ attention more than the regular test drive pattern, helps understand how you can make a better impact on your customer’s mind.

According to an automotive sales analytics by Accenture, by applying insight-driven analytical strategies OEMs have improved their sales by 12% to 16%; bringing it to $500 million opportunity for an OEM with 10% share.

Now as mentioned afore, if and only if you are analysing this data for forecasting and finding a breakthrough will you be able to drive through this traffic of digital transformation. Also, in order to present a more transparent image of yours with your present customers and prospects, sharing data that builds trust is a great move.

However, in this regard the authenticity of shared information with the ensuing network is a challenge keeping the ownership at stake. Although third-party analysis is often useful yet for a more impactful data-driven decision, your in-house analytical knowledge will generate higher level of accuracy.

General Motors, currently in the middle of its digital transformation phase, is planning to invest $ 546 million on data centres, to study and enhance their performance; a clear depiction that big data and analytics are going to play a pivotal role in the automotive industry’s performance in the near future.

Using Social to Open More Communication Channels

As the social upheaval is fairly visible in almost all sectors, the automotive sector here too has created a decent position for itself.

  1. Moving on from the traditional ways of advertising, online car launches have proved superior alternatives with better audience reach.
  1. Potential car buyers use social media to collect reviews or discuss on social media forums. According to a survey by CMO Council last year, 38% consumers agreed that they will refer to and check with social media before making purchase.
  1. The increasing number of ads on social media sites, especially those related to the automobile sector for instance sale of used cars, is indicative that people are placing their trust in social media for purchase as well as sale of cars.
  1. Videos makes social media more appealing; the storytelling experience which social media provides is more compelling than other means of advertising.


Social media exposes your brand to both good as well as bad publicity and conversations, that too on the global dais. So, it is anyway critical to make and maintain your brand image on the social media scale. The best example in this case is Ford which has decided to go for all its car launches on social media first.

Connecting the IoT with Automation

As sensors are becoming a common scenario in cars, the competition for OEMs and new entrants in the automobile industry is about coming up with IoT compatible models. Connected cars have already hit the roads silencing all privacy related questions. One of the major benefits of connected cars are readily available info about your vehicle’s kinetics.

Also improved customer experience is being counted as a major advantage in IoT integrated automobiles being a win-win situation for both dealers as well as consumers. The sellers get more opportunities to build brand loyalty, while the latter will have more options of products and services to choose from.

This year’s CES witnessed the launch of BMW’s latest in-car embedded cloud-based digital technology in collaboration with HERE, a navigation and local intelligence app company. Using the HERE app on your smartphone you can import the desired destination to your car and the integrated navigation system will calculate the route and even bookmark it in favourites if required.


According to a report by GSMA, a research firm representing the interest of mobile operators and service-providers the targets of the Connected Car Forum members (CCF) include, taking the sale of connected cars across the world to more than 50% by 2015, and aiming that by the year 2025 all cars manufactured will be connected in multiple ways.

Proper implementation of IoT capabilities will help in the creation of an ecosystem where manufacturers, dealers, interested buyers as well as prospects will be able to approach each other easily.

Read more info read our blog on How the Internet of Things is changing the World around Us.


As the digital demands businesses to turn more customer-centric it has become critically important for enterprises to create even and straight thoroughfares for their customers, leading directly towards greater ROI. Whether it is via social, analytics or through Internet of Things, the CMO knows that his customer will take only the easiest and secured path, hence the need of the hour is to create one.

Kapil Khanna

About the Author

Kapil Khanna is the Chief Technology Officer at Net Solutions responsible for driving technology vision, strategy, innovation and bleeding-edge solutions. His Expertise is in delivering complex and large scale projects, consumer and enterprise grade business solutions using next gen web frameworks, ESBs, SOA best practices, Cloud computing (AWS/SaaS), APIs( REST/SOAP service), leveraging industry best practices.

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