The Future of Automotives: Driven by People, Powered by Digital

Raman Mehta, CIO, Visteon CorporationAn alumnus of University of Michigan, Raman with his expertise in IT and leadership qualities molded three organizations and assisted them in receiving CIO100 award.

What are the current market trends you see shaping the Automotive Space?
Electric and clean energy vehicles are becoming prevalent, and with companies such as Tesla leading from the forefront, this is a trend that is going to stay. It's not just about the electrification of the power train it's the electrification of the entire vehicle system in terms of consolidation of multiple electronic control units. The game is shifting on how we can make the vehicles more efficient to provide with the most optimum range to the driver.

Another trend that's currently prevailing in the automotive industry is connected vehicles. The connectivity is right in front of us in terms of smart vehicles and the level-2 and 3 automated driving and a lot of companies are embarking upon these trends. As there is an increase in the adoption of software and AI in the vehicles, they are acting as an enabler for the whole connected and autonomous vehicles revolution. There will be a pristine set of applications that will be essential to keep the driver occupied while the cars become an extended part of their home or office life.

Please elaborate on the challenges that the organizations will need to address related to automotive technology.
Cybersecurity is going to be one of the challenges. The more the vehicles and infrastructure become connected and interdependent, the surface of attack and attack vectors are going to be increasing exponentially. Security has to be taught from ground up not only in infrastructure but in the product development side as well.

The cloud has enabled new paradigms, but in the end, there is a lot of computing that has to happen on the edge. So, making the cloud and edge to co-exist together to solve the most complex problems of humanity autonomous vehicles is a matter of concern. If this problem is tackled then a lot of less complex industries would automatically get a boost from the entire R& D that is happening in this space.

Also, the organizations have to be prepared for the digital transformation. The use of AI in digital transformation is all about doing different things creating products and services that were not possible before in the analog world. That's about creating new markets or extending the revenue cycle beyond a product that you sell and getting service in the market, taking control over their upgrades so that the consumer still has the similar

The second part of digital transformation is people actually don't lay focus and they fail in doing things differently.We cannot survive on old IT infrastructure with lot of manual spreadsheet driven processes. So, the way of the modern workplace has to look a lot different. We need to adopt cloud and AI to make the infrastructure more robust, reliable, and scalable.

The level of software usage in the vehicles is on the raise, so we need to get involved with product development organizations and bring in agile methodologies to develop faster turn around times around the software development

The automotive revenue pool will significantly increase and diversify toward on demand mobility services and data driven services. What are your thoughts on this growing trend?
There will be more players who will be designing the apps that can address the spare time that the driver has; he or she is engaged to the vehicle and the whole vehicle will now become a workplace extension, depending upon what mode you're in it i.e. conducting business or entertainment. Additionally, personalization is also essential and that's where AI is serving the needs of customers' preferences based on their past history experience and interaction. A whole new set of applications will be emerging in the driver monitoring area monitoring them in terms of their physiological conditions fatigue and attentiveness.

What are the major tasks for organizational CIOs at this point in time?
The level of software usage in the vehicles is on the raise, so we need to get involved with product development organizations and bring in agile methodologies to develop faster turnaround times around the software development. For a CIO, the next step is to bring the AI into their infrastructure. And when it's about ensuring whether the networks are up and running, there should be an algorithm running that knows that on a given day this is my traffic pattern.

One last thing that the CIOs have to do is adopting cloud for their software and infrastructure, because it saves money and is much more scalable. Most importantly, the cloud is changing the organization culture, where traditionally, we would deploy big software like ERP, CRM, and PLM and tend to customize them with less governance.

How the convergence of disruptive technology driven trends could transform the auto industry?
There is still a bit of hesitation to fully adopt the cloud, as traditionally automotives have very strong safety requirements. So we need to prove ourselves that we are ready for prime time when it comes to functional safety.

The second thing is there are lots of people who have skills in the traditional automotive paradigm. But there is a also a new breed of programmers who are good with deep and reinforced learning. I think, if you can bridge that gap by creating an innovation mindset, where people see a carrier path and they are allowed to grow into these functional expertise roles, it would be the major thing we can do.

What is your advice for budding technologists in the automotive space?
To become more product and platform centric. We need to align with the transformation of our industry. Visteon started with being a seating climate control or cluster manufacturer and now our aim is to become a topnotch player in the autonomous vehicles. But, the transformation the business is not waiting for us; we need to do three things become energized, take care of our infrastructure, and make sure that the platform is ready for innovations.

We need to adopt newer trends such as smart factory, so that we can provide complete trace ability to the products that are ending up in the field. We need to make ourselves more efficient by improving the plant efficiencies aspiring to make quality control, guessing the issues much ahead in the cycle, so that they don't become much expensive later on.