Microsoft has an automotive plan. At CES 2024 the focus was on engineering and vehicle platforms as well as customer experience, both for inside the vehicle and for the rest of the journey. Last month, we saw a bevy of announcements from CES 2024—many of which pointed to the future of automotive.
While AI (artificial intelligence) certainly took center stage, there were many announcements that point to how innovation is transforming for OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers) and how the customer experience is refashioning across the lifetime of the vehicle.
John Reed, global solutions leader, manufacturing & mobility industries, Microsoft, shared a few key takeaways from his time at CES 2024 and his thoughts on what comes next for automotive. The Peggy Smedley Show
“When we look at our solutions, and the way Microsoft and our partners can help customers, we look at the business in four areas,” Reed says. “One is how do we help drive innovation in products and engineering. Second is how do we transform factories and plants and the manufacturing processes. Third is how do we support resilience and insights into supply chain. The fourth is how do we support the evolution of customer experience from both a B2C and B2B perspective.”
Across those, at CES, the emphasis was on developing engineering systems and establishing new concepts for what vehicle platforms can do as well as looking closer at what the customer experience will be to scale up and deploy end user apps inside the vehicle for the entire journey.
One key announcement was four new reference architectures, which Reed says are a way to think about how Microsoft composes the technologies that Microsoft has with the work that the partners do to create end-to-end solutions for a variety of different types of capabilities.
These reference architectures include:
- SDV (software-defined vehicles), which enables a modern cloud-native software development toolchain leveraging strong developer tooling services with additional functionality specific to automotive.
- Mobility copilots, which is a combination of vehicle services and mobile application capabilities and enables various use cases across the value chain to increase productivity, unleash creativity, and drive innovation with AI.
- A new Azure innovation accelerator, which makes it easy for companies to collaborate in a secure way.
- A reference architecture for a unified view of a customer, which brings all sources of customer data together, enabling deep insights and hyper-personalized mobility use cases for automotive.
Of course, the customer experience will always be front and center and there are big opportunities that exist from a service perspective during the lifetime of the vehicle. Reed says a vehicle owner may spend 15 or so hours as an average in purchase but 50 hours or more during the lifetime of the vehicle ownership from a service perspective. He explains how the unification of the journey and the unification of systems and data drives opportunities.
At the end of the day, Reed says he saw two key themes from CES 2024:
- Advances in digital cockpit: Car manufacturers can enhance the in-vehicle experience in context of existing vehicles rather than wait for the next production cycle.
- Focus on acceleration of innovation and engineering: CES saw many announcements in software-defined vehicles and autonomous space.
With the rise of AI, we are seeing new advances and opportunities for automotive to race onto the scene. Companies like Microsoft will continue to fuel this innovation as we head into a new era of connectivity in automotive.
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