India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India is undergoing a massive digital transformation. This transformation, interestingly, is not being enabled by engaging established digital giants, but working with start-ups that are incubated under different programmes run by the company.
The company recently launched a mobility challenge, where it will work with start-ups that are working in new-age technologies in partnership with Hyderabad based T-Hub. The idea is to identify mature start-ups, who have a certain level of customer base.
This is apart from the Mobility & Automobile Innovation Lab (MAIL) programme, which started in January 2019 to work with new-age start-ups or ones that are in the ideation stage or have a minimum viable product (MVP).
In an exclusive interview with Mobility Outlook, Rajesh Uppal, Member Executive Board (HR, IT, Safety & DE), Maruti Suzuki India said the company is looking for new start-ups with innovative technologies and solutions in the mobility domain. Every year we work on a new problem statement, and this year’s theme is service, diagnostics and enhancing customer experience.
The company continues to look for ideas and technologies that fit into its requirement to accelerate its digital transformation.
Under the MAIL programme, the company is engaged with around 17 start-ups, while more than 700 start-ups have applied to the programme. Of the 17, Maruti has already finished proof of concepts (POCs) with 13 start-ups. “Currently, five-six start-ups are already our vendors and their solution is being integrated with us,” Uppal said.
Highlighting the work of one such start-up – Ennmovil – which was incubated under the Maruti Suzuki initiative and now working as a vendor, Uppal said the start-up is helping Maruti optimise routes for delivery of cars to its customers. “All our trailers have a GPS available and based on the real-time monitoring, they are advising them, which route to take,” he said.
Ennmovil analyses the data gathered (historic & current) from the operations of the existing fleet of trucks used by MSIL and shares insights to bring in operational efficiencies.
Similarly, the carmaker is currently working with Peer Robotics, which helps to automate the complete process at the warehouse by using human collaborative robots.
While these start-ups are working to improve efficiency and cost at the backend, the carmaker has also onboarded Xane AI and Rezo.AI to enhance the front end experience of the customers.
Xane AI is a SaaS (software as a service) AI platform that uses computer vision and natural language processing to create a personalised user experience. With the help of technology, this start-up digitises car manuals. With the help of the mobile phone camera, it works as a virtual assistant for service engineers. It helps in less service turnaround time, AI-based remote assistance and optimising service cost.
Similarly, Rezo.AI is an automated chatbot that handles unstructured conversations about pricing and availability and reverts real-time to the customers by leveraging the backend APIs. It also detects the up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and pitches in with the right verbatim to and helps do closures. Moreover, it can book visits and appointments of the customers too.
Improving customer experience
With these kinds of start-ups, the carmaker has managed to digitise 23 touch points out of the total 26 car buying steps.
The carmaker is currently focussing on the customer experience and its digital journey and hence working with start-ups, who are accelerating the pace. This is one of the unique initiatives taken by the carmaker to weed out its legacy issues and work in a fast-paced manner to adopt digital technologies.
It is taking the help of open innovation methodology that supplement its R&D in an agile way, gain insight into new opportunities in the field of automobile and mobility, access talent & the right infrastructure, create new revenue streams, reduce costs, risks and timescales and increase competitive advantage.