Best Practices for Automotive – October 12-14, 2015


Stefan Krauss


The automotive industry is evolving and indeed, transforming into something fresh and exciting.  The way we design vehicles and components, source those components, sell and service and how we interact with customers is forever changed.  The Internet of Things and digitalization, all driven by sensors in manufacturing assets and in vehicles create vast amounts of data which combined with our ability to quickly analyze and create insight and intelligence is a principle driver of the new reality of business and automotive value creation.


It was especially fitting that the inaugural Best Practices for Automotive event was held in the “true” North American center of gravity for the automotive industry, Detroit.  Customer attendance exceeded expectations, networking was everywhere.  We truly have an automotive community established, one we can nurture and grow.  It was especially gratifying to see customers telling their SAP stories not only as formal speakers but also in quite corners, at breakfast, lunch and receptions.  The “networking” was impressive.


Our theme of “Driving Digital, on the road to transformation” was clearly the correct one engaging all of our customers and partners on the new automotive industry.  Our track sessions, largely delivered by customers, on Data and Visibility, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Simplification and Digitization and Globalization clearly indicate that not only are our customers and industry constituents contemplating and anticipating the data driven transformation of their business, they are actively pursuing and engaging in it!


Even more telling were our jumpstart and keynote presentations.  NASCAR explained how they analyze social media data to react and to protect their “brand”, how they decide to capitalize on sentiment or in some cases ignore it…and even create new brand awareness.


The buzz on connected vehicles and autonomous driving was pervasive.  We heard from Steve Schwinke from General Motors talked about keeping the customer at the center of the connected vehicle with solutions that are smart, safe and impactful.  Lawrence Burns from Google and the University of Michigan laid out the “transformation” of the automotive DNA to one built on the concepts of connected, coordinated, shared, driverless and tailored to purpose, while at the same time saving cost, improving safety and changing the way companies and drivers use capital.


Jeff Owens, CTO of Delphi took us on an unbelievable (and real) autonomous vehicle journey of 3,400 miles from California to New York.  He planted the thought that fully autonomous driving not only would be safe, it would also be “polite”.  James Colgate of William Grand Prix Engineering clearly articulated and demonstrated how racing technology is benefiting the automotive community.  Christine Hassler, author and life coach, helped us understand the generations, from matures to boomers to millennials.  The interesting thing is that most of us demonstrate a great deal of generational diversity.


And finally Dan Mahlebashian and Otto Schell from our host General Motors talked about transforming globally, setting up the building blocks that lead to real-time intelligence and insight that enable new potential business model opportunities.  Both were very clear in their passion for the automotive industry, SAP and Detroit!


So what did I take away from the event?  Energy of the community, insights and guidance from customers and experts, and a heightened understanding and value of the power of networking, our future is certainly networked!


In our closing panel, we asked if this event should continue…the main ballroom remained nearly full at 6:00 PM on the closing day…the resounding response was yes.  In fact, some of our guests went so far as to “demand” it for 2016.  The Detroit automotive community has been reignited, it is glowing brightly.  We will be back next year making our second event even bigger and better. 


We trust you got as much from the event as I did.  If you want to hear more from us all of the event material is available in
a “Best Practices for Automotive – 2105 Resource Center”

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