Digital transformation: The silver lining in a global pandemic

Every cloud has a silver lining, and this is something every organization across different industries are facing and hoping for as they navigate their businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. The automotive industry is no different. Ever since the COVID-19 virus became a global issue, many automakers and manufacturers have paused their production lines, sending financial shockwaves through supply chains. Automotive companies around the world also have to contend with a near total collapse in vehicle sales leaving companies with a lack in capital during the pandemic environment.

As it turns out, this time of uncertainty can be the greatest catalyst of digital transformation with organizations in the automotive industry accelerating the adoption of technology and work practices that can unlock new business opportunities and increase operational efficiencies. Digital transformation is no longer optional. It’s the new normal.

Multi-brand automotive and equipment distributor, Brimborg, found themselves ready to weather the situation with minimal impact on its operations. Based in Reykjavik, Iceland, Brimborg had already faced a similar crisis when the financial crisis hit in 2008 which saw recession In automotive sales. They sat with thousands of vehicles that they could not sell. With the help of Annata and Microsoft Dynamics, Brimborg instantly gained the competitive advantage by implementing a solution that integrated all their business processes and developed new revenue streams with the cars that they could not sell. Annata developed an award-winning rental solution for Brimborg that helped unlock new revenue streams and that instantly placed them as one of the biggest rental providers in the country.

When the pandemic hit Iceland in March 2020, Brimborg found themselves well prepared. Having worked with Annata and Microsoft for more than a decade, Brimborg had been building many digital platforms for CRM systems and online bookings to support its rental businesses.

“When the COVID-19 hit us, we were extremely well prepared and could implement new (business) processes extremely fast. We have unlocked several revenue streams, where we sell new cars, used cars, providing after sales services including workshops, spare parts services, and car rental business (along with) heavy commercial. Our car rental business revenue almost went to zero overnight but we have been able to increase the local business through various initiates by using the digital platforms and offer contactless car rentals thanks to these platforms (provided by Microsoft and Annata).” Egill Johannson, CEO, Brimborg

Egil notes that the company had also began to adjust their daily processes with the employees working remotely and cut marketing budgets by 80% as they had begun using the CRM to disseminate Brimborg’s marketing materials. These advantages of having a digital framework in the business can fundamentally reshape the automotive industry to weather the public health crisis that the world is facing.

Looking to the months (and years) ahead, we see a few areas that that will be transforming even more to support business processes and increase digital experiences in the automotive industry. Automakers are now focusing more and more on data driven intelligent systems that facilitate automation while increasing customers experience to meet their preferences in a safe and healthy way. Manufacturers are also digitally transforming the supply chain process with emerging technology that challenges businesses to rethink the way they design their supply chain. With the use of advanced analytics, artificial Intelligence and machine learning, manufacturing and supply chains will have the opportunity to reach the next level of operational effectiveness and efficiency to take on changing markets, meet new opportunities and run multiple business models.

Get more from this discussion. Click here to listen to the full interview between John Reed, Director of Automotive Solutions, Microsoft with Johann Jonsson, CEO of Annata and Egill Johannson, CEO of Brimborg at the Microsoft Business Applications Summit, 2020.

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