Monday, May 23, 2011

Toyota & Technology Transformation!

If you believe BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance industry) is the early adopter of emerging technologies, and Manufacturing industry is typically a laggard in those aspects, think again!. I have some very interesting and promising updates that could change this perception.

Toyota has recently signed up partnerships with two Technology companies. One with Microsoft and another with Salesforce. And that's not all - The partnership with Microsoft will leverage Microsoft Azure/Cloud Computing and SalesForce alliance will leverage its Chatter.

Along with Microsoft, Toyota is attempting to build Next Generation Telematics Platform for Cars using Windows Azure. Telematics is fusing of telecommunications and information technologies in vehicles. Telematics services helps to transmit critical vehicle information via GPS/GPRS/Communication technologies to a centralized data center where the information can be aggregated/analyzed and reported for optimization actions. Information that gets transmitted include car's health information, energy/fuel consumption data, on-call/emergency service requests. General Motors was the pioneer in this offering with its OnStar service in North America.

As automotive industry is moving towards alternate energy sources, role of Telematics is going to be critical in providing centralized energy management services.

The promising aspect is both Microsoft and Toyota are investing close to $12million in a new venture - Toyota Media Services - that would provide IT services to Toyota Automative Group of companies.

In the second update, Toyota has signed up with SalesForce to build a private Network called 'Toyota Friend'. This network will be built on SalesForce Chatter platform. Using this service, Toyota's customers will be able to connect with their own cars, the automative service company and Dealers. This private network will be integrated with the Telematics platform that Microsoft is building for Toyota. Interestingly, using Toyota friend, you car will be able to tweet to you on maintenance schedules, fuel updates, tips for driving, etc.

These two initiatives would certainly change the image of Toyota that it's no more a conservative player when it comes ot adopting emerging Technologies in their automative products/services. And from technologies perspective, Cloud Computing/Social Computing are making inroads to some of the conventional industries such a Manufacturing.

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