At the recently convened CDK Global Connect 2018- a digital transformation themed workshop in Dubai- the key topic of discussion was the change in the GCC car-buying customer.

The advent of machine learning and advanced sensor technologies, the shift of customer preference from ownership to rentals and subscriptions, an industry changing from selling cars to managing transportation assets, the rapid distribution of profits from sales to new profit centres- these are the future trends in the automotive industry, according to an expert from AMENA Auto, the only automotive Association for the Middle East and North Africa.

Alan Whaley, Founder and Chairman at AMENA spoke about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) at CDK Global Connect 2018. CDK Global is the leading Dealer Management software provider for the global automotive retail industry. The CDK Global Connect was a one-day event attended by key speakers who spoke about the company’s strategy, product highlights, and future vision for the automotive industry.

Speaking about the power of AI, Whaley said, “Vehicles in the future will be equipped with a wide number of internal and external sensors feeding AI that will be able to detect cognitive and emotional state of cabin occupants, through which every journey can be tailor-made, from background music, to route preference, inside temperature, cabin fragrance etc.”

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Founder and Chairman of AMENA Auto, Mr Alan Whaley delivering his speech regarding the role of artificial intelligence in the automotive industry.

Also present at the conference was Eleni Kitra, Global Sales, Head of Financial and Automotive at Facebook for MENA who addressed delegates about the importance of building the engine on the Facebook family of apps to generate sales for your brand. She was joined by Pierre De Feuardant, Business Development Manager, Middle East and North Africa at Google MENA who spoke about the change in the GCC car-buying customer trends.

Feuerdant elaborated on his thoughts about the same: “Our research suggests that digital is the way forward, especially in the GCC car buying process. Furthermore, it takes car buyers in the GCC 900+ digital touchpoints to buy a car, with 67 percent of UAE buyers not loyal to a specific brand. The car buying process also varied according to each country with buyers in the UAE making a purchase within two weeks, while 71 percent in Kuwait will buy a car within two months with 53 percent of the dealership visits happening in the third month of the car buying process.

“However, the same percentage are willing to buy from a dealer who they had no relationship with in the past. This poses as a challenge for dealers who are eager to win customers back. Hence it’s essential for dealers to compare, understand and monitor the contribution of each media to driving sales,” he added.

Additional reports from Google MENA showed that online research is the first and most important part of the car-buying process for UAE buyers with 38 percent of them investing time in doing a thorough research about the new car they will buy. 57 percent of buyers will start their research with a query. These buyers are not limited to querying at dealership or research websites. A staggering 82 percent of the buyers considered YouTube as the primary destination to watch videos about cars while 89 percent felt the platform showcased independent, credible videos about cars.

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Alan Whaley from AMENA Auto and Eleni Kitra from Facebook discussing the advent of new trends in the automotive industry.

Janne Kilpeläinen, General Manager (Middle East) at CDK Global said: “At CDK Global we understand that the industry is changing rapidly, and in a changing industry our role also needs to change.  Hence we’re making an effort to develop a flexible retail operating platform to connect manufacturers, dealers, our partners and consumers. This platform would focus on digitalisation of automotive workflows that would ultimately create a seamless consumer experience.”

CDK Global invests majorly in research and development, identifying the challenges faced by automotive retailers all over the world to help them improve their service. The firm’s integrated DMS technology allows dealer groups to create a consistently high customer experience across all sites.