An increasing number of purchase decisions will be made using modern technologies, says Szymon Włochowicz, COO at Hicron.

What IT trends should we expect in 2019?

Above all, the continuation of the trend from 2018: digitisation. It is to be seen as the introduction of digital technologies in almost every area of life. Computing and information technologies will be used in an increasing number of business processes on the business side, as well as the consumer or user side. Digital technologies will be applied not only in industries typically connected with technologies, such as the Internet services of digital entertainment and streaming, but also in more traditional sectors that have been using the technologies in a very limited way so far.

A good example of this is the automotive industry which will be using digital technologies more broadly in marketing, sales or the very activity of driving a vehicle. Companies from this industry will start using digital techniques to inform their potential clients about their offer, new solutions for an already owned vehicle, accessories, functions and services. From the point of view of the automotive industry, it is not just the vehicle that their clients are purchasing, but also “mobility service”, which means that the clients can roam from one place to another. It is irrelevant if this service is delivered as a short- or long-term rental, offered by-the-minute, or in a form of car sharing. What I refer to here is also a service like Uber that provides such a service of mobility. All these solutions are based on digital technologies. The whole industry has to get used to the fact that all new business models or services required by the customer are based on IT systems.

What does the automotive industry fail to do and what it shouldn’t?

It should start concentrating on the issue of its presence in all available channels of communication. Entering into a relationship with a brand, the customer should be able to initiate the encounter using a computer and a web browser, a phone and an application or through social media, regardless of what device they are run on. Automotive brands will start noticing that marketing is not only about advertising, but also about existing in the customer’s consciousness. This is also about lifestyle; delivering valuable content. This falls into the digitisation trend as all marketing activities are happening through digital devices.

Automotive brands have not yet mastered the theme of personalised communication. Most producers have a portfolio of many products, targeted at different groups. Thanks to digital solutions you can individually manage and deliver content adjusted to your clients’ needs on the basis of psycho-graphic and behavioural observation.

The sales stage will be quite similar: electronic access to all technical data will let the consumer set up a car of their choice. In the area of post-sales activities it will be crucial for the producer to get used to full transparency in terms of level of services and prices. It can be compared to the competitiveness seen in the hotel industry. If you want to book a hotel, you go to a web page that compares many offers and shows opinions regarding the available hotels. Moreover, it will show the price differences between standards in a clear way. The same is happening and will continue to happen within the automotive industry. Access to information regarding products, services and prices will be much wider. From the point of view of a professional dealing with the automotive market, they will have to put pressure on the sales and post-sales processes so that customer satisfaction will increase.

Marketing is infusing with modern technologies. How can we use them?

A digital world must be connected to the real one. In the case of the automotive industry, the most popular way of connecting these two is by ordering a test drive. It is a situation in which a client can see something in the virtual world and then test it live. It might be the case that we will be observing quite the opposite trend. For example: a client sees an exhibition in a shopping centre or a newspaper ad. He or she should be able to instantly switch from the real world to the digital by entering a web page or going to an application which will let them obtain more useful information regarding the product.

Fusion of the real and digital world allows us to create a relationship between a brand and a consumer through a newsletter subscription, social media, etc.

It is assumed that most of the purchase decisions will be made more frequently using modern technologies. Well-designed processes will let marketing departments create a profile of their potential client and thus prepare a dedicated purchase path based on personalised content.

Can the IT industry offer any solutions to support the automotive business?

At Hicron we offer such solutions and we run projects for the digital support of businesses in the automotive industry all over the world: Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia. We cooperate with the most demanding automotive companies, not only in the area of marketing, sales and service. We run full business digitisation: spare parts management, warehouses and car stock, car configuration and orders, warranty claims handling. Digitisation allows companies all over the world to cut down costs significantly.