By Jeremy Agulnek,
Senior Vice President, Connected Vehicle
As a small business providing connected safety services, V2V and VRU solutions to global automotive manufacturers, suppliers and traffic and navigation platforms, HAAS Alert’s path to success can follow several different pathways. While everyone wants a “straight to production” implementation, it’s often an unrealistic goal, given how many of the larger companies in these industries evaluate, plan for and implement new features and services in vehicles. Success requires support from product, sales, marketing, engineering, legal and finance teams — all of them — to achieve successful product commercialization. While a proverbial “silver bullet” might not exist for this market, HAAS Alert has developed a repeatable pattern that helps us reduce time to market, improve roadway and VRU safety sooner, and achieve commercial success faster.
First and foremost, you need a “champion.” Finding the right stakeholders within an automotive OEM to guide you through its processes and culture and advocate your solution is by far the biggest success factor. You may have the best idea or the most incredible technology, but if no internal stakeholder believes in what your solution can do for the OEM and their end customers, then success will be harder to achieve. If you’re lucky, the champion will be able to work with you from start to finish. However, in most cases, we have seen that your champion will likely change as you progress within the OEM. We have seen particular success in starting with the OEM department or team that is responsible for identifying and vetting new technologies. This could be the innovation team, R&D group or tech scouting department; each OEM may call it something different, but they share the common characteristic of being charged with finding solutions for next generation vehicle lines. These individuals are motivated to discover your business and assess whether your solution can benefit their company and end customers. If you can get them excited about your solution, then you’re off to a great start.
Now that you’ve found a champion, you need to work with them to demonstrate to others at the OEM that your solution works. For Safety Cloud, HAAS Alert’s real-time connected safety service that sends digital alerts to drivers approaching roadway hazards, simply presenting slides or showing videos doesn’t accurately convey the powerful driver experience that our solution can deliver. Instead, we developed a variety of ways for our champions and other OEM stakeholders to experience something similar to what their customers would:
- Live in-vehicle demos.
- Remote in-vehicle demos (where HAAS Alert is off-site during the live demo).
- Self-service demos (where HAAS Alert is not involved).
- Proof-of-concept apps (intended to simulate a more integrated in-vehicle experience).
You may not need to use each of these tools with every OEM customer, but having a variety of ways to make it easy and cost-effective for the OEM stakeholders to evaluate your solution should be your priority.
Lastly, ensure that your solution can be supported by a viable customer business case. You need to guarantee the OEM can answer their question of “Why should we implement and pay for your product now?” What’s compelling them to invest their time, resources and money in your product instead of doing something else? What is their ROI? Why should they act now instead of waiting? Ask yourself these tough questions, and make sure you can honestly answer them like the OEM would. If you’re struggling to believe in your answers, then you’ll need to rethink your approach.
While finding a champion, demonstrating your solution and developing a solid business case won’t guarantee success, foregoing these strategies will almost certainly result in a longer time to market and increased risk of not achieving commercial deployment. Ultimately, this process is the same as every other successful sale; make a meaningful connection with your customer, and then help them understand the true value of what you can offer.
Photo: HAAS Alert
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