Focusing on the customer: the BMW Group’s digital ecosystem. In conversation with Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Products and Services
The digital revolution is of tremendous importance for the automotive industry. The BMW Group was quick to recognise the direction of progress and is fully prepared for the challenge at hand thanks to BMW Connected and its ever-expanding digital ecosystem. “It’s not just a question of developing and integrating new technologies or services for vehicles,” explains Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Products and Services BMW Group.
The digital revolution is of tremendous importance for the automotive industry. The BMW Group was quick to recognise the direction of progress and is fully prepared for the challenge at hand thanks to BMW Connected and its ever-expanding digital ecosystem. “It’s not just a question of developing and integrating new technologies or services for vehicles,” explains Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Products and Services BMW Group. “ The focus is on the customer and their expectations of modern mobility. The digital lifestyle they are accustomed to should continue to be offered to them – seamlessly and without any restrictions – no matter whether they are in their car or away from it. BMW and MINI vehicles are being transformed into additional touchpoints for the customer, just as a smartphone is already.”
The ability to use services virtually anywhere and at any time forms the cornerstone for an all-encompassing digital experience from the BMW Group that is geared entirely to the customer. The developments over recent years underline the concept’s success. As May explains, “BMW ConnectedDrive is currently available in 45 countries and there are already more than eleven million connected vehicles on the world’s roads. What’s more, over four million customers worldwide are now using BMW Connected.”
The digital customer experience is a top priority
One of the major consequences of digitalisation is that the vehicle itself has turned into a touchpoint, making it a central hub of the customer experience that is so important to the BMW Group. “The digital ecosystem formed around BMW Connected, including the link to BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud, enables us to not only better understand our customers, but also to assist them with personalised and contextual in-car information,” continues May. The latest-generation BMW Operating System 7.0, which caters even better to customers’ personal needs from its digital platform, also plays a crucial role here. “The BMW Connected ecosystem is invaluable when it comes to creating a seamless customer experience. This makes it possible to keep customers connected via all digital channels within the BMW Group using their BMW ID – and therefore to assist them at any time,” says May.
The digital experience for customers begins even before they have purchased their vehicle – thanks, for example, to the kind of virtual reality technology employed by the BMW i Visualiser app to allow interactive exploration of BMW i products. Such technologies provide customers with a brand new and unique way of getting to know their future car. The same applies to the process of vehicle configuration. “Taking the customer’s preferences as a basis, we have the means of offering them exactly the product they are looking for, complete with digital services,” explains Dieter May. And the experience continues for customers while they are waiting for their new car, thanks to the My Car is Born service that forms part of BMW Connected. “The customer is therefore involved in the production of their vehicle at an early point. This gives us the opportunity to forge an emotional bond between customer and car at this very early stage,” says May, highlighting once again the importance of using digital channels to strengthen customer ties. By letting customers add new services for a specific period of time, from their car and whenever they wish, the BMW ConnectedDrive Store turns the customer experience into a holistic digital experience.
A new era of digital ecosystems
“This goes to show that we understand our customers and – within the context of BMW – know what they want and what they need,” continues May. All of which acts as an essential anchor at a time when numerous new digital ecosystems are forming and taking root. “We are in an age of digital assistants ushered in by Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. For some time now, we have offered customers the ability to integrate these assistants from the comfort of their home.” Having kept pace with this latest development from the get-go, the BMW Group will – as of March 2019 – introduce its own assistant into its cars in the form of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. No matter what new touchpoints come into play in the future, the BMW Group is committed to ensuring customers receive the right services at all times – and that they are seamlessly connected with their digital lifestyles. “The possibilities offered by autonomous driving, electrification and ever-greater connectivity are opening the door to completely new experiences and ways of organising journeys by car. At the same time, they are changing what people want and the lifestyles they choose,” stresses Dieter May. “This is precisely where the intelligent platform comes in useful. It will make it possible to use a single customer profile, the BMW ID, to switch from one BMW to another, seamlessly and without limitation, throughout a vehicle’s life cycles. Added to which, we will pool together all products and services for the individual mobility of our customers and gradually build them into an all-embracing BMW ecosystem.”
Together with automated driving, the systematic expansion of connectivity en route to a digital, emission-free future is one of the key fields of action for the BMW Group as it seeks to drive the transformation of the mobility sector as part of its NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy.