General Motors' Pat Snack: "The more entrenched the early warning investment becomes, the more difficult it is to change it."
Morris Brown: More vehicles, more problems.
That has the Automotive Industry Action Group (aiag.org) concerned about a proliferation of software and systems developed independently.
So the action group, as the industry's flag bearer of standards and common processes, has formed a work group of automakers, suppliers and software vendors to develop standards around extracting data and text from dealership reports, customer call centers, warranty claims and other sources.
Pat Snack, a General Motors executive on loan to the group, and Morris Brown, product manager of the group, spoke with Staff Reporter Ralph Kisiel about this emerging technology.
How many automakers are using or testing this new technology?
Snack: I think most of the OEMs are doing it at some level. And there are several different providers of this out there, which is part of the problem. Every niche provider that comes along tends to create his or her own standard language for doing this. So we obviously want to build some standardization around that. And we do have a few (vendors) that are interested.
How long will it take to get automakers, suppliers and software vendors using common business processes for early warning?
Snack: We'd definitely like to have some of this solved within 12 months. The more entrenched the early warning investment becomes, the more difficult it is to change it.
Does early warning go beyond what automakers and suppliers must do to comply with the TREAD Act?
Brown: What we're finding is that a lot of companies have made significant investments in resources to comply with TREAD Act reporting. We did a survey and found that about 80 percent of the companies were doing just the bare minimum in terms of submitting data and not doing anything else with it. This is a tremendous opportunity. If you are gathering all this data anyway, let's try to find some benefit in it, leverage this information.
How interested are suppliers in early warning?
Snack: We've got suppliers already working with our dealers directly because they are not getting the information they want soon enough (from the automakers). So if you can get this thing integrated, interoperable, you'll take that latency out of it. We should shorten all this anxiety and cost that happens at the supplier level because they don't get the information aggregated and understood soon enough.
Will cost prevent some from suppliers and automakers from developing their own systems?
Brown: They realize that there is some benefit here. Every company's coming out with these great product blitzes, saying that in the next five years there are going to be more vehicles rolled out than in the previous 20 years. So if we don't get our arms around this problem, it's just going to explode.
How difficult is it to get automakers, suppliers and vendors to rally around industry standards?
Snack: The thing we always run up against is perceived competitive advantage by one or more partners. So it's conveying or being able to get acceptance that maybe there is an opportunity to collaborate for the good of the industry. That's always a challenge.