Automotive sector

Rethinking the automotive sector with data-driven strategies

Seeking to rethink the automotive core business, Audi Business Innovation GmbH (ABI) offers forward-thinking digital product development and innovation offering IT expertise for user-centric solutions.

Launched in 2013 by Audi, ABI is a wholly owned subsidiary acting as a speedboat for digital product and business development at Audi. At the heart of this innovation is Thomas Zuchtriegel, AVP Manager and Advisor at ABI.

“With our entrepreneurial spirit, our product and IT expertise for customer-centric solutions and our mindset, we are co-creating digital transformation,” says Zuchtriegel.

“Our overall goal is to strengthen the sales and distribution processes of Audi AG by providing relevant digital solutions and reliable IT platforms. We provide the concept of digital services and business models, while orchestrating and managing the digital product development processes and also implementing digital services along the value chain, with a focus on the effectiveness of marketing and sales processes,” he continues.

Through its innovative approach, ABI makes a significant contribution to the digitalization of the customer journey. Its technology enables the continuous improvement of the Audi user experience through data-driven product developments with a measurable contribution to customer experience performance.

“Our mindset and personal attitude allow us to constantly question the results of our work and strive to continually improve our business. It’s in our DNA to generate added value through innovative ideas and new concepts,” comments Zuchtriegel.

Develop the AVP for an enriched customer experience

AVP is Audi’s tool for visualizing a product’s and car’s configuration based on computer-aided design (CAD) data in real time, as well as in 3D. At the same time, the AVP has the ability to process huge amounts of data based product data systems in a highly automated manner.

“We invented and developed the Automotive Visualization Platform (AVP). We develop the building blocks to create all Audi websites. ABI also builds and operates relevant components in the field of CRM, performance marketing and e-commerce. With our specific skills and a clearly defined method for the development of digital products, we shape the implementation of AUDI AG’s digital service portfolio,” says Zuchtriegel.

With this technology, ABI aims to combine digital and analog touchpoints for end customers and for dealers/sales in a seamless customer journey to create an exceptional experience.

About the AVP platform, Zuchtriegel says, “The desire for additional new types of content is growing every day. AVP enables flexible adaptations and rapid production in a highly integrated and secure ecosystem.

Using digital twin technology, the AVP can create 3D models of a specific product before it is manufactured, which can then be used in multiple ways: anywhere in the world,” adds Zuchtriegel.

The AVP is the core component of the product visualization ecosystem and to expand its options for evolution and innovation, ABI seeks to select the right partner companies that are fully equipped to support the business.

“We always look for the right mindset in our partners: collaborative, agile, technology-driven, customer-centric and always focused on business value. With mutual partnership or mutual empowerment, we have, in the end, more innovation and more scalability to serve more touchpoints to more customers and even more brands in our case. In this way, we generate a win-win scenario, and everyone benefits,” says Zuchtriegel.

CGI agencies like Effekt Etage, for example, support ABI with its product staging and innovative technology portfolio, as Zuchtriegel explains: “Effekt-Etage ensures that all cars look beautiful from every angle. They create 3D environments and do a lot of content production for large scale marketing assets, and beyond that they do proprietary software development for specific use cases.

Focus on data for business success

For these digital twins, ABI has created a robust and comprehensive data strategy to ensure that the digital models accurately create the 3D images of automotive products.

“Own the data, own the process, enable the experience” this is how we aim to successfully manage and leverage our data for AVP. We are constantly improving user experiences through data-driven product developments with measurable contributions to customer experience performance,” comments Zuchtriegel.

Not only is data imperative to the AVP, but it also helps drive the business forward. Using data insights as a quantitative approach in addition to qualitative feedback, ABI developed new business models and, as Zuchtriegel explains, “data from feedback was the foundation of AVP and its development. We can use it to build on short iterative cycles and improve products.”

“AVP started with Audi City, the world’s first digital showroom. It then started small with several small pilots. Today it is a fast growing company with multiple business models based on 3D data, data insights and customer feedback,” he continues.

This data-driven approach ensures a seamless digital customer experience across multiple channels and generates millions of interactions per year, driving Audi forward. On top of that, creating digital—or virtual—twins generates huge time savings and enables new business applications, notes Zuchtriegel.

He adds: “The digital twin, or virtual twin, is at the heart of everything we do. If you want to buy a car, or even want to check out a part of the brand, you want to show the product. Product portfolios increase almost every year, which means that there are more and more options and variations to customize the customer’s needs. You have to view it digitally – you can’t take pictures because it takes too long and costs too much. »

“You can’t do it in a short time for the millions of assets and interactions we enable daily. And, therefore, the virtual twin is the kernel. It is also important to further develop the virtual twin, adapting to changing customer requirements, as well as new touchpoints, new formats and new use cases. We have a huge cost reduction by outsourcing core components and using them synergistically across different touch points.

“On the retail side, we’ve reduced the time to market from about six weeks to just a few hours. All real-time interactive experiences and increased user engagement have a real impact on revenue. In the end, it’s all about the personalization of products and services in the customer experience. The biggest benefit, from my perspective, is that we ensure a seamless digital customer journey across all different channels,” Zuchtriegel comments.

In order to obtain additional support for its digital twin technology, ABI turned to Dassault Systèmes 3DEXCITE, which acts as a downstream partner for digital services.

Zuchtriegel comments, “We have been working with software from Dassault Systèmes, CATIA and Deltagen for over 10 years to create virtual twins. They set the standards, which help us — and even others — automate. Dassault Systèmes focuses on simplification and convenience to enable ecosystem development.

ABI also turns to conLeos, an experienced partner who provides ABI with configuration systems. With over 20 years of experience working with Audi and Volkswagen Group, conLeos is an expert in smart caching algorithms. With this, Zuchtriegel explains how he supports AVP: “The user gets the images on the configurator, or any experience, as fast as possible. This saves a lot of rendering time. We have mutual enablement in software development and services, and we all have an intrinsic drive to deliver best-in-class products, which can be said the same for all of our partnerships.

He adds, “There are long-lasting partnerships because the world is small in the visualization industry, especially in the automotive industry. You meet the same experts over and over again as they gain so much expertise. »

Looking to the future, Zuchtriegel believes the automotive industry will continue to be customer-focused and personalization will drive improved user experience across all channels: experiential, digital and virtual.
“With the automotive visualization platform, we continue to provide multi-brand availability. In a few months, Volkswagen passenger cars, Volkswagen commercial vehicles and Cupra will go live with the AVP in various channels, from retail to online sales in several markets. We are also working with new clients with new data, so there are additional requirements where we need to consider how can we adapt what we already have ‒ how can we leverage the data and how can we create a win-win scenario for everyone who is working and using AVP? »