Databases on Four Wheels
It was the showstopper at the 2015 International CES electronics show in Las Vegas: Mercedes-Benz unveiled the car of the future. The prototype F015 is a connected car that constantly communicates with its passengers and the outside world. Science fiction? On the contrary. Almost all manufacturers are currently working on their own version of a networked car. But what role does Arvato play in this?
Jochen Ruland and Stephan Goldmann love cars. Partly because they are their passion, and partly because they are part of their jobs. The two managers from the Arvato Corporate Information Management unit serve customers from the automotive industry. And this industry is currently facing its greatest challenge: The digital revolution of the car. The German Automotive Industry Association (VDA) estimates that globally about 210 million cars will be digitally networked next year. “And in 2020 they will probably make up 80 percent of the world's cars,” says Ruland, who is responsible for automotive clients. So we’re talking about a huge market, and of course Arvato wants to participate in it, too. But how?
Experts believe that the cars of the future ...
... will be self-driving, make no noise, and need no gasoline. They will be rolling computers – a mobile device that steers and “thinks” intelligently, driving its relaxed passengers home while they listen to music or watch their favorite TV show. “Our cars are already mobile data centers with 1.5 km of cables, more than 50 ECUs and the computing power of 20 state-of-the-art PCs. Now the task at hand is to work with the IT industry to make mobility even smarter and even more connected,” says Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn, for example*. And Arvato’s experts play an important role here.
For over 40 years, they have worked with the automotive industry, and have developed bespoke solutions for many premium manufacturers – from the distribution of brochures, workshop information, promotional products and customized vehicle manuals to the CRM tools used for customer communications in Sales. So the Corporate Information Management team also knows how heterogeneous and complex data must be processed, automated and managed so that it can be fed into the car. An example of this is the data for the navigation system, which today is no longer updated by CD-ROM, but unnoticed by the vehicle owner via a Bluetooth interface.
“Our experience in data management makes us an enabler of the connected car,” explains Goldmann, Vice President Corporate Information Management, Arvato SCM Solutions. “We make the connected car with its many digital interfaces possible in the first place.” For in the future even more software features and content will have to be managed. They need to be distributed by target group and vehicle, and the flood of data has to be analyzable and monetizable. And this is precisely Arvato Corporate Information Management’s approach – to be a “Smart Information Mover.” The offers that a premium manufacturer creates for their consumers are digitally managed, distributed and billed internationally. All over the world, this involves using content management platforms or web shops– which Arvato implements and manages in the background through its networks in Europe, Asia and America. The most important aspect here is the integration of new solutions into automotive customers’ existing sales processes.
We see ourselves as a development partner who advises their customers in developing a perfect solution platform for them, so that they can continue to effectively develop their business processes.Jochen Ruland, Vice President Automotive at arvato SCM Solutions
There are only bespoke solutions
Ruland and Goldmann have already gained an important insight: In the “connected car” megatrend, every premium manufacturer is pursuing their own individual strategy. There is no standard business model; only bespoke solutions. “We therefore see ourselves as a development partner who advises their customers in developing a perfect solution platform for them, so that they can continue to effectively develop their business processes,” says the business management graduate Ruland. Because there are so many different solutions and approaches in the field of connected cars, Arvato Corporate Information Management is also working on business models that could be interesting for other industries. “We are currently looking into the question of how banks and insurance companies, for example, could use the data from connected cars, in cases of accident damage, for example,” says Goldmann.
The topic of “connected cars” also opens up new opportunities for courier and parcel service providers, as a collaboration with the European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS) at the University of Münster has shown. In the “SmartCar – Smart Data for the connected car” project seminar, students developed the idea of using the car as a mailbox. “For many CEP service providers, the last mile is a challenge. If in the future they could use a password to open a recipient’s car trunk and deposit a delivery this would be solve a big problem in the delivery business,” explains Goldmann.
However, car owners themselves will benefit most of all from their digitally connected cars. They not only offer more safety, convenience and information, but also maintain their high degree of functionality thanks to constant updates. This guarantees longer value retention than cars that are not yet digitally networked. Says Jochen Ruland: “Arvato solutions create this added value for the customer because we know the processes of how to distribute digital data into cars worldwide.”