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The alphabet soup describing the technology that is shaping the auto industry, including AI, (Artificial Intelligence) – VR/AR, (Virtual Reality/Artificial Reality) – HMI, (Human Machine Interface) – UX, (user Experience) – IoT, (Internet Of Things) and Blockchain, aren’t as confusing as they first appear.  Acronyms associated with digital marketing, such as SEO – SEM and PPC, caused a similar panic for the technology challenged just a few short sales cycles ago.  They all describe changing technology governed by human nature and are defined by the universal problems they solve.

The basic problem solved by the auto industry, and the technology that supports it, isn’t all that complicated.  People, goods and services need to be transported from A to B for a variety of reasons and the auto industry satisfies that need.  The complication is that the reasons are constantly changing and technology must predict those changes or suffer the consequences.

Employees that used to drive to work can now operate more efficiently from a home office linked to an online network of co-workers.  Driving to your local Shopping Mall has been replaced with online same day delivery from retailers that don’t have to pass on the cost of expensive real estate and utilities to display their merchandise.  Simply put, the free market place will always accommodate consumer demand to provide the least expensive and most convenient way to deliver goods and services and the auto industry must govern itself accordingly.

The retail auto industry is already changing to meet consumers online with websites that allow a consumer to purchase a vehicle and accept delivery without having to meet a salesperson or visit a dealership.  That is not to suggest that salespeople or brick and mortar dealerships won’t have a place in the auto industry.  It does however suggest that their role in the sales and service experience must change as technology provides efficiencies to better serve the consumer.

The OEM’s must also recognize that the use of personal vehicles will require radical changes in the products they provide.  More cost efficient fuels, such as electric vehicles and other power sources yet to be announced, are already in production to accommodate government regulations.  Demand for autonomous vehicles and the growing acceptance of subscription transportation services including Uber, Lyft and other forms of transportation fleets are already impacting demand for new vehicles as consumers question the need for a personal vehicle and the associated expenses.

These issues must be addressed by the auto industry before they reach critical mass.  That is where the alphabet soup of next generation technology comes in and Artificial Intelligence, (AI), is probably the best place to start.  It is an integral element powering many other next generation technologies and its true potential has yet to be realized.

AI solves a diverse variety of problems across all sectors of the auto industry centered around the need to efficiently accumulate and process data.  The evolution of AI isn’t complete.  Its’ present application is primarily in Machine Learning that is dependent on algorithms designed to replicate human interactions and decisions.  The learning curve for AI is its Achilles heel as applications require extensive data pools to accumulate enough real world experiences to define and apply a usable pattern in the decision processes that it is designed to control.

The evolution of AI into Artificial General Intelligence, (AGI), and Artificial Super Intelligence, (ASI), is inevitable as hardware and software matures exponentially to improve the efficiency of Artificial Intelligence beyond that of the human intelligence that created it.  Once AGI is achieved it will power technology in ways yet to be imagined.  It will not only shape the auto industry but society as we now know it.

Many technology vendors have prematurely added AI to their title and solutions before their data and algorithms have matured enough to be effective.  As a result they have misrepresented its’ true potential to shape the auto industry on all levels.  Vendors that have applied functional AI to their solutions already exist and their ability to disrupt the verticals that they service is apparent.

InterActiveTel is an example of an SAAS vendor that provides functional AI powered telephony software and integrated hardware that solves a universal problem for the auto industry.  The auto industry suffers with antiquated telephony technology with analytical capabilities that are not as vast as online resources.  They typically provide minimal metrics & KPI’s as dealers are overwhelmed with call volume -150 unit dealership averages 20,000 calls per month – that is time consuming to monitor and cost prohibitive to manage.

The following statistics support the need for more efficient ways to process inbound phone calls:

  • 32% of incoming calls never connect with an associate
  • 7% hang up when placed on hold – 8% leave voicemail
  • 8% hang up when transferred to voicemail
  • 10% hang up because nobody was available to help
  • Only 10% of calls are captured
  • Only 15% of sales calls are tracked

All of these missed opportunities evidence that there is no understanding of interactions and they indicate limited accountability to solve the problems they represent. InterActiveTel’s AI powered software addresses all of these issues:

  • Track every call in and out of the dealership
  • Convert a conversation to text and then analyze the data
  • Track and confirm Sales appointments
  • Monitor and manage missed opportunities
  • Track make and model trends
  • Determine customer sentiment
  • Quantify advertising effectiveness
  • Analyze service opportunities & trends
  • Evaluate employee performance
  • Monitor all phone conversations in real-time
  • Alert managers on key interactions in near real-time
  • Store collected data for trend analysis

Their solution is even more disruptive since their software incorporates the ability to:

  • Understand the content of the conversation
  • Respond to the intent of the customer
  • Evaluate and improve the skills of the sales associate
  • Positively impact the outcome of an interaction
  • Provide insights from the consumer’s perspective
  • Map the consumers desired experience
  • Shed light on sales performance
  • Accumulate prospective sales
  • Measure conversion

AI powered SAAS providers like InterActiveTel will accelerate competition in Telephony and other vendor offerings to solve similar deficiencies in the telephone dependent sales and service processes of the retail auto industry.  VR/AR is another next generation technology that will impact both the retail and manufacturing sector. Read the rest of this entry »

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