Auto Service World
Feature   November 25, 2015   by Steve Pawlett

Trail Blazers Wanted

The huge advances made in the gathering and harnessing of data from all types of sources, particularly in the automotive world, are so great it’s reached a tipping point, and the aftermarket is finding itself in a rather tenuous situation.
Big data is changing the automotive industry – from the preventive-maintenance world it has always known, to a service-on-need world. While the ramifications of this revolutionary transition are leading the industry into unknown territory, jobbers and auto service providers who choose to embrace this big data revolution stand to benefit greatly from the new opportunities that will arise. Those that choose to bury their heads in the sand may not be around very long.
Even though there is a general fear in the aftermarket that telematics will be used to entice motorists back to the OEMs long after the warranty expires, I believe there will be plenty of new and innovative opportunities for those in the aftermarket to grow their business and remain competitive.
For example, telematics will allow auto service providers to receive vehicle diagnostic information from customers’ vehicles in advance of their appointment and order the parts for the repair ahead of time, thus reducing time in the service bay. Shorter turnaround time means a happy customer and increased capacity for the shop, which translates into more business for the jobber.
Jobbers and independent repair shops that are willing to team up and embrace this new, proactive business model will have the same opportunities as dealers to form stronger relationships with their customers. I believe it will soon become less about parts and price, and more about customer service and growth.
Last year, some 26 million connected cars collected more than 480 terabytes of data. That number is expected to increase to over 11 petabytes by 2020. (One petabyte equals one quadrillion bytes.) While gathering vehicle information is not new, harnessing it at today’s volumes and velocities, and integrating it with information about a car’s operating environment at a given moment in time, is revolutionary. Analyzing this amount of data is certainly going to open up a lot of doors and create a lot of opportunities for those willing to trail-blaze into this new, largely uncharted business model.
For the first time, big data from cars, surrounding vehicles, and other external conditions can be pooled to give drivers real-time information about where they are going and how best to get there safely, as well as deliver a new level of value to automakers, the aftermarket, and even cities looking to operate increasingly efficient transportation systems.
You will be able to gather more information on how vehicle components perform under real-world conditions, and analyze that data to answer specific questions such as how particular braking and acceleration patterns affect component wear and performance, or combine geographic, weather, and service records to look for repair trends in your market.
Telematics will enable jobbers to gain new insights into what parts need to be replaced, allowing them to take a more proactive approach to stocking needs. By gathering vehicle telematics data, pooling it with information about a vehicle’s environment, and analyzing it, big data and analytics are going to advance the concept of connected vehicles, and as a result, provide the aftermarket with opportunities to promote vehicle maintenance and repairs in new ways that will enhance the driver experience, strengthen customer relationships, and grow your bottom line.
While telematics comes with its share of risks and challenges, it also offers a huge upside for those willing to blaze new trails into this new world of intuitive parts sales and customer service.

— Steve Pawlett, Editor,

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