How Volvo uses Big Data in practice
For Volvo’s director of business intelligence, Jan Wassen, identifying areas where analytics could provide the most benefit is part of the job. Cars are increasingly generating more and more data as they become ever more connected and empowered by smart, Internet of Things technology. Since Volvo launched its first car with internet connectivity in 1998, it has worked to evolve its data strategy, initially working on combining warranty claim data with telemetry to predict when parts would fail or when vehicles would need servicing.
Today, the company is also using data to uphold its impressive safety reputation. One pilot project, launched in 2015 and due to conclude in 2017, has seen 1,000 cars fitted with sensors to detect driving conditions. The focus here is on monitoring the vehicles’ performance in hazardous situations, such as when roads are icy. Data is uploaded to the Volvo Cloud and also shared with the Swedish highway authorities.
The third focus of Volvo’s analytic strategy is improving driver and passenger convenience. This involves monitoring the use of applications and comfort features to see what customers are finding useful, and what is being underused or ignored. This includes entertainment features like built-in connectivity with streaming media services, as well as practical tools such as GPS, traffic incident reporting, parking space location and weather information.
Of course, the next hot topic in the car world is autonomous vehicles and Volvo, unsurprisingly, sees safety as the main beneficiary here.“We believe that one of the major contributors to road safety will be autonomous vehicles,” Wassen says. One hundred autonomously driven Volvos will take to the streets of Gothenburg in 2017, with trials also planned for London and Shanghai in the near future.
The technical details
In terms of predicting breakdown and failures, Volvo works with Teradata to carry out predictive, machine learning-driven analytics across petabyte-scale data sets. Volvo’s Early Warning System analyses over one million events every week to discern their relevance to breakdown and failure rates.
Plus, in line with other auto manufacturers moving into self-driving and autonomously driven vehicles, Volvo is developing its own AI algorithms in house.
Ideas and insights you can steal
It’s perhaps no surprise that a company with Volvo’s reputation for safety is using data to further improve road safety. For me, this demonstrates how Big Data can seamlessly integrate with a company’s existing mission and help achieve ongoing goals, as opposed to prompting huge changes in what a company stands for.
You can read more about how companies are using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.