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Entries in Technology (22)

Wednesday
Jan042017

Autonomous Vehicles

We started talking about autonomous vehicles (AV's) a while back, and have featured several white papers on the future impact and viability of autonomous vehicles.

The question remains..."is it really just around the corner?"

As we start a new year we will surely hear more talk about AV's, technology, the cross roads of tech and auto companies competing for AV's. As well as CES that starts tomorrow in Las Vegas sucking some wind out of NAIAS which starts next week.

There is a ton of technology, stakeholders, from several directions. Let alone the various opinions from a myriad of experts, analysts, and various jurisdictions weighing in.

If you listen to some folks 2016 was the year that you could momentarily let go of the steering wheel. Be assured that this thought vector will continue this year.

 

 

Tuesday
Dec272016

What Caught Our Attention in 2016

With a gazillion events all over the planet, short attention spans, sound bites all over the place, there is a bunch of stuff that grasps attention.

Here goes....

Time:

The unrelenting ferocious velocity of time is a competitive advantage.

Technology:

Agreed its a vague word, but there is an upside and a downside. Sadly we too often see the downside.

Planet:

Fascinating in a planet that is truly interconnected...human nature prevails with positive and negative.

Cars:

Basically all good, and we have our preferences. The metal must resonate.

Autonomous Vehicles:

We are getting there with technology and still hurdles to overcome. It will be simpler with trucks platooning down the highway.

Pick Ups:

They are a constant, while the compact pick ups are gaining a new customer base.

Utilities:

Call them whatever...SUV-CUV and so on, most folks prefer a utility vehicle to a sedan its that simple.

Humans:

After all is said and done we remain humans, with some specifications / traits that are very very old.

Service:

In Canada we continue to struggle with the meaning and expectations of the word.

Disruption:

Its increasingly all around us, are we prepared?

Bold:

The correct boldness will generate long term results.

Connect Dots:

You absolutely need to connect your own dots.

Your Own Editor:

More than ever...

Boomers:

Full of wisdom, but yesterday's generation.

 

 

Wednesday
Dec212016

Sell It Faster

The mantra for the past few years in the auto business is to sell it faster. Everyone is an expert on how to sell it faster, with a myriad of advice regarding every detail of the process.

Needless to tell you that customers also want to acquire a vehicle faster...no kidding.

Lets focus on the selling part...

In Canada if you look at days to sell inventory (new/used) for the past few years, you would conclude that the mantra of selling a vehicle faster has been falling of deaf ears. Agreed...some dealers are selling faster and obvious their customers are also buying faster. But...and its a substantial but...these dealers are a minority.

What is the problem?

There is a ton of technology assisting a dealer to sell faster, and there is a ton of technology to assist a customer to buy faster. Its not the technology that is lacking, its all there readily available.

Technology is not the problem.

Could it be that the problem is that we are humans, empowered with technology, perhaps even confused by technology.

 

 

Monday
Dec192016

Straddling the Brick / Mortar and Digital Fence

We might as well keep on disrupting this week.

The auto business in Canada is still straddling a physical and digital fence. Somedays seem as if its improving, others as if the chasm is getting wider and deeper. One thing is certain there is a constant flow of sound bites from a myriad of stakeholders.

Customers

As the wave of digital natives increases, a bulk of their due diligence is done on a mobile device. Literally visiting a brick and mortar dealer at the last minute. With the gazillion programs and incentives constantly wondering what is a good deal. Yes...the metal must still resonate to finalise a decision.

Safe to say that customers are primarily on the digital side of the fence when acquiring a vehicle be it new or used.

Dealers

They are caught up in a world of branded glass palaces (brick and mortar) to comply with the manufacturer requirements, and a digital arena to actually deal with customers. Its a complex atmosphere with a myriad of variables.

Dealers are forever straddling the fence since they require both a brick and mortar and digital presence to actually do business. Usually they are more proficient on one side or the other of the fence.

Agreed...it all works we have record sales in Canada...never seen before...somebody is doing something right.

Manufacturers

Are in a solidly entrenched in brick and mortar and digital landscape. Its a constant dance between the atom and digital world. Its also lucrative on many fronts for manufacturers to keep the dance going.

Basics

The basics of the business have not changed in decades. You still have to create a customer, convert a vehicle to money, provide superlative service with an unparalleled customer experience (CX). The customer and dealer remain "horse traders" selling and buying which keeps the business unique in the world of retailing.

A customer requires service, a dealer still needs lifts in the service department, still needs parts and so on.

We could say that the basics remain the brick and mortar of the business. There remains a human, emotional factor in closing a deal which is a constant both on the customer and dealer side.

The basics are on the brick and mortar side of the business.

Evolution 1.0 + Technology

Perhaps you remember when parts managers would order parts over the phone, accounting was a completely manual process, a credit application was called in.

We can quickly conclude that technology has had a dramatic impact on the auto business, initially starting with the dealer and manufacturer.

We can conclude that the dealer and manufacturer got a taste of technology (computers) almost 50 years ago. By 2016 time frames 50 years is an eternity.

Evolution 2.0 + Internet

At the outset of the Internet the folks with vision were telling dealers that all the information residing in a showroom was going to disseminate to the Internet. That was 20 years ago...half an eternity by 2016 times frames.

Lets put this on the digital side of the fence.

Evolution 2.1 to 2.982 + Internet + Social Media

The past 10 years have been a "bazaar/flea market" of sound bites from a myriad of stakeholders from all sides, the customer, dealer, manufacturer. How do you make sense of all this noise, sound bites, everyone trying to monetise one thing or another.

Its a fascinating, overwhelming game that is played out constantly 24/7/365.

Much easier to divide anything and everything into "silos" to monetise them. While adding more clicks to improve the functionality of some software.

In the meantime the customer has a mobile device or tablet, is empowered with product knowledge, and is further empowered by social media and Google. Still needs metal that resonates to finalise a decision.

Lets put all of this on the digital side of the fence, preferably in a back pasture somewhere.

Evolution 3.0 + Disruption

If you have a feeling that there is a level of discomfort with the customer, and dealers...you would be correct.

In Canada the shift from ownership to mobility occurred a while back (2014/2015) the customer seeks mobility, the dealer is a mobility provider.

Remember the simple sheet of paper to arrive at a final amount, payment and close a deal? It was simple a couple of generations ago. Why is it so complex, full of variable today?

Be assured that "someone" will disrupt this complex process in the near future.

 

 

Thursday
Dec082016

Cars Online Trend Study 2016

The annual Cars Online from Capgemini

 

 

Wednesday
Dec072016

Seeking Eyeballs

We always mention for years now that we are not in the eyeball business. That you should be your own editor, since there is a ton of "stuff" that is published on a daily basis.

The models change, many folks are on a mission to monetise whatever platform they have with whatever content they can find.

Have noticed "social media" has become a generic term meaning anything and everything. Its a huge sandbox with a gazillion players with all sorts of "instruments" to move the sand around. Obvious that everyone has a strategy, a vector to attract more eyeballs, to better monetise their position.

Almost a decade ago "social media" like the Internet a decade prior was this quasi idyllic place where folks connected, actually met in person, exchanged ideas, and so on. Similar to the Internet the initial idealism has long departed "social media".

We are now at the cross roads where "social media" and "media" are becoming one huge "media bubble", and the distinctions are at times clear and other times opaque.

Not only is the auto business involved with social media, the entire North American political system is a vigorous participant in social media.

We are certain that you can see our thought process here.

In the meantime if you are seeking eyeballs in one fashion or another, you need headlines that capture immediate attention and/or content that is out of the mainstream to again capture attention. Since most folks have no time to read especially on a mobile device. It has to be short, to the point, capture a ton of fleeting attention for a few seconds. Then hopefully start a chain reaction with ash tags.

One way to find eyeballs is to have "sound bites" with appeal even if it lasts only a few seconds or nano seconds.

With increasing competitiveness the sound bites must stand out, must trend, must have ash tags. This thing "trended", generated a ton of momentary interest, was controversial, and so on and on.

Lately there are more questions about "media" and "social media" and what some folks are doing to attract eyeballs, to trend, to have a nano second of fame.

Will it change? What do you think?

 

 

Friday
Dec022016

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation and please tell your friends.

Its the last month of the year, only a few weeks to Christmas...a bit of a WoW moment.

Are you somewhat fatigued about all the talk and more talk, and even more talk about the US President elect? We agree it takes your breath away...

Safety

Have you noticed that we have the safest vehicles on the planet. It took decades to arrive at this level of safety in vehicles. At the same time we have some lethal folks driving those safe vehicles.

Are we reverting back to the days of "no seat belts" and a "solid steering column"? What do you think?

Technology

A few days ago we made a reference that in showrooms there is asymmetry in technology. In case you missed it...click. Reflect on this...when you have a conversation with anyone "its eyeball to eyeball" and a when you take out a sheet a paper (think tablet) to visualise a "deal" its one sheet (symmetry).

Pipelines

They are a hot issue in Canada...really hot. At the same time we know that rail cars filled with crude can turn into hot issues too.

Engines

If you have been around racing long enough, you surely remember small block Chevies painted "porch grey" with an Traco sticker on the valve covers. A brief history of Traco...click. The modern Tra-Co take a look...click. Way back in the day Traco was short for Travers and Coon, and if you are a Chevrolet fan you surely remember the porch grey engines.

If you have been following drag racing for a few years (decades) you surely remember "Elephant Motors" (Hemis) and Ed Pink...click. The web site is here.

Still with drag racing, if you are familair with a yellow dragters with Greer-Black-Prudhomme on the side, you surely heard of Keith Black the engine builder for the dragster. A fascinating video of Don Prudhomme firing up the Keith Black motor in the dragster...click.

Our usual old race cars, a stunning photo galley of the Goodwood Members Meeting.

 

 

 

Monday
Nov282016

Is Technology the Elephant in the Room?

We are all empowered by technology in one fashion or another. Agreed some days its a good thing, others not so much.

 

In the auto business we have been talking about technology for the past 20 years, the Internet, social media, and a ton of software to do a bunch of stuff. Stack on top of it big data, and a gazillion ways to look at the data to make it even more interesting.

A few decades ago, vehicles were lethal weapons with technology they are much safer in 2016. Now factor in distracted driving which has become a lethal weapon in its own way. Fascinating paradox, make vehicles safer, while distracting the driver.

You can get a 27+ inch monitor for your PC, while most folks do their business on a mobile device with a 5 inch screen. Reflect on this for a moment...

Agreed a bunch of stuff is facilitated with technology, its easier (most of the time), faster (usually), intuitive (sometimes). Technology offers a myriad of platforms to spread "pedestrian knowledge" (stupidity).

In the dark ages of technology, dealers would refuse to provide a PC to sales consultants for fear that they would be all over the Internet, while wasting time. Customers would do their due diligence on their PC and bring a spread sheet at the dealer to feel empowered.

Today in any showroom there is at least 1 screen on every desk with a PC somewhere under the desk. Obvious there is the Internet, software for this thing, that other thing, and more software to provide product training. While the customer walks in with a mobile device.

Suggest to a dealer that they should provide a tablet to sales consultants..."are you nuts they will spend their time on Facebook". These are the same dealers that spend money going to a ton of conferences on technology where they are advised to have a Facebook page.

The customer is often staring at the back of a screen, or the screen gets turned, or there are 2 screens on a desk to make it easier. While the same customer is perusing his mobile device further empowering himself.

Is there a technology asymmetry between the sales consultant (dealer), and the customer? You could make a case that its only an issue of hardware (PC vs mobile).

Hopefully you can see the direction of our vector. Everyone is empowered, while there is an asymmetry in communicating with technology, closing a deal, and customer satisfaction.

Is technology the elephant in the room?

What do you think?

 

Tuesday
Nov082016

Spur Cut Gears

With the ongoing demise of the manual transmission in cars. Accompanied by all the sound bites of the benefits of manual transmission.

We had a spur cut gear moment, double clutching, rev matching to shift gears.

Think about this for a moment, shifting gears with straight cut gears, upshifting is not so bad, downshifting is a case of double clutching and rev matching with every downshift. Fortunately all manual transmissions in cars have helical gears and synchronisers to facilitate shifting.

This goes back to the days when the driver was the "technology" in the "mechanical" car of the day.

Imagine your favorite car witha 6 speed manual transmission with spur cute gears, and no synchronizers. The task of shifting gears, double clutching while blipping the throttle of every downshift. Great for fuel economy (just kidding).

 

 

Tuesday
Nov012016

Digital Reroutes

A though provoking paper...