Ashok Leyland’ digital path to growth

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To beat market cyclicity and achieve higher growth, Ashok Leyland is looking at digital initiatives as an enabler.

Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

With an eye on grabbing a greater share of the Rs.2.4 crore spent by an operator on a truck through out its lifecycle, Ashok Leyland has unveiled four digital platforms that promise to enhance value. Claiming to earn only Rs.20 lakh it typically takes to buy a truck out of the Rs.2.4 crore spent, Ashok Leyland is riding on the rapid growth of smart phones. It is hoping that its four digital initiatives – i-Alert, ServiceMandi, e-diagnostics and Leykart – will help customers to better manage their business logging on. Developed over the last year and a half, the four digital initiatives leverage the telematics solutions that the CV maker has invested in. Said to be the first CV maker to offer a telematics platform ‘Alert’ on its trucks since 2008, Ashok Leyland introduced i-Alert in 2016. The telematics platform was updated in July. If the i-Alert saw the company leverage telematics, the four digital platforms were piloted on 100 CVs prior to their unveiling.

Tapping the aftermarket

Looking at a Rs.60,000 crore opportunity on the Indian highways, the digital initiatives ride on a premise that Ashok Leyland continues to under-penetrate its own aftermarket. If the way in which the four digital platforms connect with each other could be termed as unique, Ashok Leyland is claimed to be the first company in India to do so to ensure an integrated approach for the user. Developed with an eye on a typical global aftermarket revenue benchmark of 25 per cent, the digital initiatives have been integrated with the company’s SAP architecture. Ashok Leyland uses the SAP architecture to carry out its various functions, including the identification and listing of parts, and more. The linkage with SAP architecture helped the company to price the parts it offers on the Leykart platform; to ensure that they could be delivered to the door step of the customer, and to connect 20,000 mechanics to the other initiative – ServiceMandi. With the aftermarket revenue benchmark in India at a low five per cent compared to the 25 per cent benchmark in the global markets, the digital initiatives signal a significant revenue growth potential thus.

Brand and platform agnostic

Said to use ‘Adobe Creative Cloud for Business’ as an interface, the digital initiatives are claimed to have been developed with close co-operation between various teams in the company. Part of the company’s broad plan to beat the cyclic nature of the CV market, the four digital platforms are expected to be made commercially available in the next one or two months for those who would want to opt for their existing fleet. To be expanded to Ashok Leyland’s export markets, and in-line with the company’s thrust on exports as it concentrates on margins rather than absolute market share, the digital initiatives are offered as standard on BSIV emission compliant trucks. What makes them suitable is the higher share of electronics they carry; the higher number of sensors they carry, and which makes them more receptive. Engineered to be brand and platform agnostic, Ashok Leyland is claimed to have engaged IT companies whenever the need for specialised knowledge and coding was felt necessary. Developed by a team of eight to ten young engineers with support from various other departments, the hardware bit of the initiatives includes a black-box. It is fitted inside the dashboard, and is hard to identify. Capable of working even on a two wheeler, if not on a CV of another brand, the functionality of the initiatives is best enjoyed on BSIV compliant Ashok Leyland CVs. On non-BSIV CVs or that of the other brand, the functionality of the initiatives may be limited to track and trace, geofencing, driver behaviour and seeking the nearest independent mechanic in case of the need.

Avenue for faster growth

Performing diagnostics and prognostics, the digital initiatives connect to the cloud. They inform as well as establish contact with the company’s nearest dealer outlet in an event of distress. Looked upon as an avenue that will grow faster in the scheme of things at Ashok Leyland, the way the LCV business of the company is growing, the digital initiatives are expected to grow faster too. They are expected to grow faster than the M&HCV business is currently growing. Offering the promise of enhancing operator efficiency, performance and profitability through an ‘anywhere and anytime’ support for his fleet, the digital initiatives, with an estimated potential to generate Rs.1000 crore in the next three years, are said to draw from the company’s use of digital medium for the past five years to dial process efficiency and operational improvements. The telematics-based i-Alert initiative among the four, offers a live dashboard, which displays vital information of the vehicle in real-time. Going beyond the track and trace function, i-Alert sends alerts directly to the smart phone if a Ashok Leyland CV needs attention. ServiceMandi connects customers with Ashok Leyland trained and qualified mechanics. Over 20,000 mechanics have been signed for the initiative, and with a focus that they use genuine spares sourced from authorised company channel. The mechanics have been star-rated according to their capability and skills. Their fees have been pre-determined, and can thus be pre-ascertained by the operator before choosing to entrust the job.

Providing live status updates of vehicle repairs on a smart phone, the operator can pay digitally on the pre-agreed rate once the repairs are executed. If this provides comfort to the driver, and gives him a feeling that he is not alone in his journey, the e-diagnostics platform is Bluetooth-based and pin-points the error by flashing the error code on the smart phone. A troubleshooting list pops up to help the mechanic or the driver to resolve the error in a simple step-by-step process. Offering a round the clock availability of genuine spare parts, Leykart helps to find out a specific part by entering the vehicle registration number, or by selecting the relevant part from the parts list. Customers can add their choice to the kart and pay digitally. The parts are dispatched to their location from the nearest warehouse through a shipment that could be tracked on the smart phone.

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