With rapid advancements in technologies such as autonomous driving, cloud computing, e-car, machine learning, blockchain, and networking, the automotive industry is transforming from manufacturers to mobility service providers. While trends such as sustainability, safety, convenience, and personalisation, which gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, are consistent in the auto sector as well, technology has played a key role in its recent evolution. Automotive players now use digital technologies across their value chain, from product design, procurement, production, supply chain, to sales and marketing as well as post-marketing services. While on the one hand, they must digitalise their core processes to stay in the competition, on the other, they must also come up with new business models for the changing market scenarios.
Pillars of Future Growth
Therefore, to take a deep dive into the defining trends, opportunities and challenges that would shape the future of the automotive industry, and how the industry leaders have adopted technology to be a game-changer, CNBCTV18.com in association with SAP held an insightful forum with the stalwarts of the automobile sector. The forum began with a fireside chat with Ashok Minda, Chairman and Group CEO, Spark Minda, on the theme ‘Pillars of Future Growth’. The changing paradigm of the automotive industry in India clearly shows technology as one of the key drivers of growth. Talking about the future trends and key areas of technology adoption in the auto sector, Ashok Minda said, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are blessings for the auto industry- increasing productivity and enhancing technology to reduce operational costs. Employee safety, monitoring energy consumption and reducing power costs to improve a machine’s life have also become very important factors for any manufacturing unit. With industry 4.0, organisations are using IoT through which data can be collected automatically and then analysed by AI and ML to identify areas for improvement.”
The Automotive CFOs: Calibrating the Throttle of Change
Traditionally, the CFO used to be the custodian of the budget and protector of all critical assets. However, today, the new-age CFOs must capture key performance indicators that will guide the future course of the organisation. Like CFOs in every other industry, the automotive finance leaders have also emerged as drivers of the digital transformation wave, fundamentally rethinking the way they evaluate future growth and make financial decisions. Hence, to discuss the changing role of today’s CFOs in the auto sector, CNBCTV18.com was joined by Andres Hager, Executive VP and CFO- VE Commercial Vehicles Limited, S. Chandramohan, Director and Group President Finance- TAFE, Manish Prasad, VP, Metal, Mining, MIscellaneous and Automotive Industry- SAP India Pvt. Ltd., Sunil Bohra, Executive Director and Group CFO- Minda Industries, T. R. Srinivasan, Group CFO- Varroc Engineering Pvt. Ltd, and Jagdeep Oberoi, CFO- Sunbeam, in an exciting panel discussion themed ‘Calibrating the Throttle of Change’.
Speaking of how tech adoption is helping businesses, Manish Prasad said, “Automotive companies have a much bigger need for collaboration today. These collaborations are not just with customers and vendors but also with various partners depending on the new business models and processes. Today, collaborations are all about networks and extended enterprise. Automotive companies need a real-time budget and spend tracking for the overall improvement in the effectiveness of their businesses. That’s where financial operations are also improving customer and employee experience and can reduce the overall costs by 10-25%”.
The CIO Challenge
After standing through the challenges thrown by the pandemic, businesses are now focusing on building resilience and creating competitive differentiation in the market. CIOs across industries are shifting gears to lead change efforts both internally, and externally. Digitization and technology adoption takes a lead in the automotive industry as well, in re-imagining success in the coming years. The change for business executives today is to bring technology to the forefront and CIOs play a key role in driving digital adoption. Thus, CNBCTV18.com also invited CIOs of the auto sector to discuss how technology is offering a competitive advantage to the automotive sector. The panel discussion was graced by Parna Ghosh, VP and CIO- UNO Minda Group, Sharad Aggarwal, Chief Digital and Information Officer- J.K Tyre and Industries Limited, Manish Prasad, VP, Metal, Mining, MIscellaneous and Automotive Industry– SAP India Pvt. Ltd, Sandeep Pradahan, CIO- Exide Industries, and Kishore Hirani, CIO- Amara Raja.
Speaking about the role digital technologies play in maximising resource management and enhancing asset utilisation of the industry, Sharad Agarwal said, “The automotive industry is using digital technologies to increase productivity, throughput, and cost-effectiveness. This is being led by multiple factors starting with IoT that lets you catch data at the sensor level. The KPIs have improved by 50% in the last 20 years and we now have to improve by 50% more in just the next two years. It is a reality made possible by the homologous synchronization of human efforts aided by ML and AI”.
The Bottom Line
Thus, the automotive industry is experiencing a paradigm shift with intelligent and data-driven operations across their product value chain. In order to keep up and be future-ready, business executives of the industry will need to accelerate digital transformation with a focus on systems solutions, data and process analytics, and automation, which are integrated into their key processes. The digital revolution has propelled the sector forward by years in a matter of months and this technology wave is here to change the way we look at transportation and mobility.
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