Only a few years ago, car showrooms were a place for customers to talk about horsepower. The focus was on tangible features and materials that could impact the car’s safety, drivability, and performance. Today, it’s about connectivity.
Once central to only 20% of buying decisions, digital services are now prioritized by 80% of the customer base. And at the forefront of bringing digital to the customer is BMW, a 100-year-old brand synonymous with quality, innovation, and performance.
“It's an incredibly exciting time,” notes Guy Duncan, vice president of digital services and operations at BMW Group. Duncan’s unit is responsible for cloud services, electrification, and the company’s pioneering ConnectedDrive App, among other digital services.
“What we need to do at BMW is deal with that change, and figure out not only what services we need to give our customers, but how those services operate and perform, because of the expectations of our customers,” he adds. “If you spend a lot of money on a BMW, you expect those digital services to be at the same level.”
Car consumers expect these services to work fast and every time. But for an international company like BMW, it’s also critical that they work consistently on a global scale.
“I think availability is incredibly important, and so is the reliability of those services,” Duncan explains. As users come to rely on things like remote start and keyless entry, as well as myriad other digital functionality, it’s important they just work, effortlessly.
“It's incredibly important that we match those expectations of functionality, and always be ‘on’ for our customers. Additionally, we need the insight from data to provide innovation,” Duncan explains.
But this insight adds yet another layer of complexity: data protection. This, of course, differs from country to country, but factor in product localization, data regulations like GDPR, and staying relevant against a changing roster of big names in the digital space like Google, and BMW finds itself in a challenging situation.
“That’s just a high-level overview of how complex it is,” Duncan adds.