There is a common consensus shaping up the world over- that while we battle the COVID-19 crisis, businesses that are geared up for a more digital future will be the winners at the end. The pandemic has emphasized the vital role of technology and innovation for supporting remote working, scaling digital channels, and measuring productivity. And automobile companies are no exception to this rule.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Prisca Pigarella, Head HR, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) shares how auto companies are adopting newer technologies in many different areas both to benefit external customers and the organization internally in the face of COVID-19.
COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are automotive businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
Interestingly, at DICV, we swiftly transformed into digital ways of connecting with our customers. While there is no substitution to physically meeting and understanding customer requirements on the ground, DICV sales teams now find digital ways to stay in touch with customers.
“Moving forward most auto companies will be looking at adopting AI for areas of forecasting, chatbots for decision-making, AR/VR for global collaboration on R&D activities and more.”
Now with employees looking to work remotely, we are looking at RPA in internal process optimizations, IoT for our smart factory of the future which will enable us to efficiently manage time, improve the quality of our products and enable our employees to be more efficient.
How are you preparing for a post-COVID business? What investments are the most necessary to create a technology environment that will allow your company to thrive in the next normal?
The majority of our focus will be to ensure that we adapt our existing digital capabilities and adopt newer technologies in many different areas both to benefit our external customers and our organization internally. We had already a digital strategy in place. The major focus areas of our digital transformation were around the pillars of customer service, employees as well as the performance of our BharatBenz vehicles.
On the customer service front: We have already started adopting digital online services with our BharatBenz Proserv app, which empowers our customers, with a first of its kind single sign-on application. Proserv offers our customers all the required services across a product’s lifecycle. Enabled with 65+ features such as advance booking, parts ordering, renewal of contracts, extended warranty, insurance, fleet maintenance, 24x7 RSA to even finding the nearest fuel station; the app provides all that our customers will require at their fingertips.
We have also introduced the BharatBenz Truckonnect. As the access to the internet has become more prolific, consumers have come to expect ready access to information. This is no less true for commercial vehicles. A good example of the benefits offered by Connectivity is the ‘Truckonnect’ service (provided with our BS-VI trucks); using this telematics function, a fleet owner can connect all his trucks to the internet and then make real-time requests for data like vehicle location, fuel efficiency, driving patterns and more. These advancements make truck owning and driving a much more attractive option.
Empowering Drivers: The new Driver State Monitoring System (DSM) offered in BharatBenz trucks in India aims to help prevent road traffic crashes related to driver drowsiness or inattentiveness. DSM leverages artificial intelligence and computer vision technologies to identify facial patterns including eyes, face, head gaze, and other natural cues. Based on this, it is able to differentiate between safe driving conditions or driver drowsiness, and inattentiveness — in this case, it gives an acoustic and visual alert. The system is trained for most ethnicities and eye wears, can handle various headgears, and works in day and night conditions.
A lot of employees must be working remotely. What are your biggest challenges with respect to dealing with this new style of working and what technologies are you employing to solve them?
As a part of a global organization, we have had access to many favorable tried and tested HR policies. We have been practicing work from home for a while now and being a large organization there have been instances of a large number of employees working from home at the same time. During instances of natural calamities that we had faced a few years ago, DICV’s IT teams gained a fair amount of experience over time to help work continue for our employees seamlessly. However, nothing could have prepared us to take our entire workforce to the remote working platform almost overnight.
Thankfully, our IT team was incredibly quick to respond to the situation after assessing what was happening globally with the lockdown.
“Overnight, our team worked tirelessly to provide critical functions such as R&D, with high-spec laptops that have secure remote connections to our company network.”
DICV has also been steadily increasing our bandwidth and has rolled out new video conferencing software so that teams can continue to collaborate daily.
Our leadership team also continues to interact with their team members virtually, maintaining their productivity and ensuring everyone stays safe, healthy, and connected. Apart from these we also have digital training seminars in order to keep our employees updated and re-skilled in order to ensure that work continues seamlessly.
Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making for your organization after COVID-19? What do you think are the security implications of the post COVID world because data will no longer be confined to corporate offices?
We have implemented two important data security policies in April 2020.
I. Global Data and Information Policy:
This policy includes four major sections:
• Basic principles incl. Daimler’s “Data Vision”
• Data Management, explaining how to organize and handle data in a systematic way, a key enabler to maximize the (economical) use of data
• Data Compliance covers what we need to consider in order to ensure we are in line with local law and, if applicable, international Data Protection laws
• Data Security keeps our data available and safe from loss, attacks or unauthorized access
II. Data Protection Policy: Besides considering these policies, we also recommend basic data protection online training to our employees. It provides a basic understanding of personal data and the above requirements.
To learn more about leading with Adaptable Tech in a post-COVID world, join us at People Matters TechHR India week.