Over the last few years, market changes in the automotive sector have created a growing value gap between manufacturers and consumers. Industry disruptions such as changing customer digital behavior, stricter ESG regulations, and the boom in demand for electric and hybrid vehicles have led companies to rethink their digital transformation strategy, with data and analytics at the heart of it.
To set the foundation for analytics success, global automotive distributor Inchcape turned to Microsoft for its business needs. Inchcape distributes and markets vehicles of some of the world's most popular brands like Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW to over 40 countries across six continents, including Singapore.
Hitting the accelerator on data transformation
Recognizing the value in embracing data-driven digitalization for predictive analytics in customer engagement, pricing optimization, and demand forecasting, the company established a new strategy called 'Accelerate', which had digital transformation at its heart. To build out its data and analytics capabilities, Inchcape sought out Microsoft Singapore's partner, Tiger Analytics Inc, to put its digital strategy into action.
Inchcape's platform of choice for a seamless omni-channel transformation was Microsoft Azure to leverage the company's existing SQL-based systems. Using Azure meant that migration and deployment of workloads could be automated, faster, and more agile compared to other platforms. In addition, Inchcape could access Databricks and Data Factory to facilitate efficient data transformation.
Navigating data-driven digitalization with Azure
Inchcape identified three areas for initial use cases for its data models, utilizing them as tools for making better business decisions. The first was a lead scoring tool centered around car sales built using the Azure Databricks Data Analytics Platform for customers. The solution allowed Inchcape to determine customers by their 'digital body language' based on website interactions, showroom visits and sales history.
The second use case was for after-sales churn prediction, which was tied to service warranties. By analyzing warranty and car servicing data, Inchcape could engage with customers proactively before they decide to leave.
The third was used in parts pricing optimization and profit maximization, which are tied to transactions with dealerships and shops. By evaluating parts transaction data, Inchcape can determine better opportunities to maximize product price elasticity.
Together with Tiger Analytics, Inchcape built a data analytics center of excellence, achieving a centralized approach to harnessing the power of data. "Data and analytics are at the heart of our Accelerate strategy to set our business up for success. Our leaders empowered us to build a central analytics team and pursue a modern analytical architecture that provides real-time and event-driven business intelligence and predictive analytics insights," says Ram Thilak, Global Head of Data Science & Analytics at Inchcape. "Effective use of Microsoft products helped accelerate delivery and future-proof Inchcape's data management strategy," says Lakshmi Vaideeswaran, VP and Client Partner for Inchcape.
"For instance, having centralized data resulted in a 75 percent improvement in data accessibility across the organization, which fed into day-to-day decision-making. Furthermore, the implementation of Azure Purview helped Inchcape manage metadata, eliminate KPI discrepancies, and support end-to-end data pipelines for advanced analytics and reporting. Azure also provided Inchcape with visibility over cloud use so the company could scale up or down cost-efficiently."
Charting sustainable growth with analytics
As the company plans to expand its analytics capabilities across the business, Inchcape's central analytics team has grown from 20 to 150 employees globally.
Inchcape also established a long-term analytics roadmap to unlock the true value of data and drive its digital strategy well into the future. Learning from the initial use cases, the company is now evaluating 20 more possible use cases to establish how data can be leveraged for business intelligence.
Lee Hui Li, Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore said "data and AI continue to play a prominent role in supporting businesses on their digitalization journey. Microsoft's tools and technologies are designed to benefit everyone, and that includes helping our customers better organize and make sense of their data. As a global leader in cloud and digital technology, we are proud to partner enterprises across industries and help them gear up for success, as we empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."
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