We talk to the Director of Market Development at Qlik, Jeremy Sim, about how data analytics is playing a major part in helping manufacturers analyse the strengths & weaknesses of their products, and how it’s helping them shape better products for customers.
How are manufacturers using your data to improve their products? And how do you try and enhance the information that you provide them?
We work with multiple companies, such as commercial vehicle users, many of whom monitor the driving habits of their fleet drivers. So, based on the parameters they want to work with, we customize the data and send them the required information. For example, in this case, if there are drivers who are using the clutch excessively, or using the brakes in too sudden a fashion, or if a driver is driving in the most economical fashion, we provide them the information that they can then use to enhance the driving skills of their drivers for better performance from their vehicles. With sensor-based data from modern cars (it’s still new ground, which companies are still getting used to), we can classify data in two ways – one is a very prescriptive, process-oriented manner. Say an engineer has a problem in his mind – we look at the data, build a model, analyse the results, and take corrective action. So, it’s a step-wise approach. The other arm of the analytics – something I’m more passionate about, although it’s a little tougher – is ‘knowing’ the unknown! In the first method, the engineer knows what he’s looking for, but sometimes one doesn’t know what to look for. For example, one manufacturer we were working with showed us the performance test data of their vehicles, and it simply looked too clean. And that didn’t make sense, because vehicles perform differently in different conditions. So, when we analysed the data further, it turned out that the vehicles were all being run on the same loop without any variation – which is why the data was so similar. Of course, this defeats the whole purpose of the test. So when we pointed this out to the manufacturer, they immediately rectified the test procedure. So, both kinds of tests are important in today’s competitive environment, and both can help manufacturers improve the performance of their products.
What do you think is the future of data analytics for manufacturers? And can it help customers too?
In terms of the market, with lots of work happening towards self-driving cars, data analytics will prove crucial. Its just that, with the world moving more-and-more towards technology, it’s moving to a stage where there’s so much information – and it’s all just sitting out there not being utilized to its potential. A brand can use it – even the consumer can use it – and using this, the experience of the whole design concept of a car can be improved. Here, in India, we do support a lot of manufacturers, such as Maruti, Mahindra and Mercedes, and they’re all trying to make a difference – both for consumers, as well as to their own bottom lines. How we can take the data from multiple sources and make it useful for all parties involved is where our strength lies.