Real-time digital operations management puts connected vehicles on the road to success

by PagerDuty August 12, 2021 | 5 min read

As technology advances and applications for the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to expand, industrial and manufacturing companies are embedding more digital systems into their operations. From smart factories and intelligent shipping to automation and 3D printing, Industry 5.0 has arrived.

One area seeing particularly exciting developments is the automotive and transportation sector. Connected vehicles are racing towards consumers, with the global connected car market estimated to increase 25.2% from 2020 to 2025, reaching a value of $166B USD. Smart trucking is also seeing a lot of innovation, with predictions that autonomous freight trucks will be hitting the highways as early as 2024. Other forms of transportation are also seeing progress, with autonomous cargo ships expected to arrive in a similar timeframe.

But with new possibilities come new challenges. Digital transformation means greater complexity across an increasingly hybridized and busier technology ecosystem, meaning more data to monitor, more interdependencies to track, and more incidents to manage. When it comes to connected and software-defined vehicles, outages can not only impact performance and break supply chains, but they can also have serious safety implications. Reliability and availability of mission-critical systems is paramount, and real-time digital operations management can help teams drive towards these goals. Let’s look at how.

Managing complexity

Autonomous and connected vehicles, intelligent shipping, and smart trucking introduce far greater complexity for IT teams in automotive and transportation companies. These interconnected sociotechnical systems often require more troubleshooting to determine root causes and generate more alert noise. This complexity is compounded by the fact that vehicle manufacturers consist of multiple subsidiaries, brands, and in-country franchises. This can leave them with siloed IT management and either a lack of observability, or equally siloed toolchains.

ITOps teams need a way to manage this web of services, applications, and infrastructure in real-time. With a single, centralized platform for digital operations management, ITOps teams can bring disparate systems together and orchestrate a global real-time response to incidents. This allows automotive companies to spend less time fielding alerts and more time on autonomous vehicle development.

Bridge hybrid infrastructure

As they undergo digital transformation, many automotive companies have adopted cloud computing. The value is clear. Cloud’s agility and scale reduces costs, makes complicated infrastructure more manageable, and accelerates DevOps adoption. Cloud helps automotive companies deal with the increasing volume of data they handle by offering faster processing and storage. Meanwhile, cloud adoption also provides development teams with the ability to work with cutting edge, novel cloud-based technologies to create better customer experiences.

Although there are many benefits to cloud adoption, managing distributed and interdependent hybrid infrastructure is a challenge for many ITOps teams. And that’s where many automotive companies find themselves: needing to bridge on-premise and cloud infrastructure for a unified view of their entire ecosystem. Investing in a digital operations management platform that can talk between all the various tools at play via native integrations and extensible APIs can help these companies gain full-stack visibility across their hybrid services and environments.

Empowering teams

As auto companies look to speed up digital transformation efforts and connected car projects, they will need more subject matter experts to build and maintain these new services. The hiring marketplace for developers is heating up across industries, so there is an incentive to keep an active pulse on talent acquisition and retention. There is also an opportunity to develop a program to train and develop existing employees who are currently involved in traditional vehicle development and manufacturing to fit development staffing needs. Automotive companies have already started investing in programs like this: Volkswagen recently announced a ten-year transformation program for its 660,000 employees as part of its “Autonomous Mobility Strategy,” helping staff re-skill to “acquire software-based capabilities.”

As more employees engage in the software development lifecycle, a very real part of the developer’s experience is balancing both planned and unplanned work to stay productive while avoiding burnout. DevOps best practices like full-service ownership and blameless postmortems, combined with proper tooling to empower developers with structured processes and curated automation options to navigate the increasingly complex landscape can create a win-win situation for both the company and the employee.

Protecting always-on experiences

Alongside the development of the vehicles themselves, connected cars bring another interesting element to the table. Any device connected to the IoT, including connected vehicles, is sold based on the assumption that the digital services powering the car and its infrastructure will be available 24/7/365. Drivers don’t want to lose access to information systems or updates on how much battery power they have left because of a digital incident somewhere in the ecosystem. And they definitely don’t want to get locked out of their vehicle because the app that doubles as the key is not available.

Brand reputation could be severely impacted in the wake of such events. In-car experiences need to be intuitive and engaging, but critically, reliable. Ultimately, the digital customer experience is going to be a key differentiator for auto companies and manufacturers.

Making the journey a success

Automotive companies are at the frontier of a new age of digital transformation. In just a few years, autonomous and connected vehicles will be the norm on our highways and streets. To make the journey a success, ITOps teams in automotive companies need to keep systems safe, reliable, and available.

PagerDuty enables teams to take a real-time proactive and preventative approach to managing digital operations. In complicated environments with many moving parts, it’s critical that companies are able to orchestrate people and technology, and take the right action when seconds matter.

For more information, check out PagerDuty for IoT and Connected Industries in this solutions brief, or start a free 14-day trial today.