Stumbling Over Incorporating Digital 'Distractions'
What significant changes did the Automotive sector witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?
Strong 2013 performance in the automotive sector owed in part to tech & manufacturing infrastructure upgrades and investment enabling strong new products that resonate with buyers. Improvements in customer focus, engineering, production, and integrated tech have successfully combined to produce milestones like the C7 Corvette and Tesla S and X. New materials and globalization require vendors to stay on a rapidly evolving cutting edge. Also new materials applications & tech (batteries, computer AI, carbon fiber, etc.) have launched new vendor startups. As customer focus and production standards raise, customers have clearly benefitted. A challenge looking forward will be to distinguish between different brands, and find product distinctiveness in a crowded market.
What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013 but did not happen?
Frankly, I expected a faster awareness and use of social networking and interactive gaming principles & methodologies ("Gamification") into new car designs. I'm not talking about entertainment or from a marketing/sales standpoint, but from the perspective of creating & blending more useful, intuitive, and enjoyable dynamic feedback loops for drivers and passengers. As Apple is often cited for relentlessly examining how its tech can better serve its user, automobiles can further benefit through adapting more sophisticated customized user feedbacks. This process can be crafted into giving cars a more appealing, distinct, and unique "Personality" that can be tuned to different drivers. Some next gen cars have this raw capability, but are not extracting the benefit yet.
Can you paint us the picture of how the landscape for Automotive sector will change in 2014? What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?
There will be continued advancement and personalization in the customer/user experience. Many more integrated computer controlled systems, including dynamic ride, handling, navigation, security and economy will be managed simply through intelligent voice controls. Automakers have already stumbled over incorporating digital "distractions," (i.e. clumsy phones and video screens showing movie entertainment), but a next generation should include newly integrated functions through menus that seamlessly enhance owning and driving the vehicle. Simple voice controls will be able to dynamically adjust the capabilities and personality of the vehicle on the fly. The goal here will be to engage fully adaptive feedback loops, personally tuned to the driver, that enhance travel and safety without taking eyes off the road. Think of asking the car to reconfigure from Commute mode (economy) to Limo mode (luxury), to Baseball Team Mode (or whatever). Then the car quickly adjusts drivetrain, suspension, seating, and navigation/communication settings, and personally answers you back when ready. Like Siri, this will open a huge opportunity towards giving cars more distinctive, unique, fun, and appealing personalities. Through this personality, new owners will build an integrated relationship with their car, its dealer & manufacturer.
Can you highlight how customer spends will change in 2014 for Automotive sector? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?
Overall, 2014 should continue to see strong spending in the fuel efficient and high-image vehicles sectors. Younger customers will have less resistance to spend more on cars that have tech features that enhance their lifestyle. Like a smartphone, they are accustomed to valuing the latest tech apps if they are attractive and relevant. The industry is still low on this learning curve and does not yet know how to effectively sell these features, but its only a matter of time.
What's in store for your company in 2014?
As a product R&D company, we look forward to working with our existing clients, and expanding our sphere of influence. We are mostly interested in creating, designing, inventing, and engineering in new space and emerging markets. Our emphasis is in interactive design and entertainment.