Publication Name: Tatareview.tataworld.com
Date: March 2020
The design and technology edge
I am cautiously optimistic about the short-and mid-term, and I believe it is very early to say whether we can sustain this 10%+ QoQ (quarter on quarter) growth moving forward.
At the beginning of this fiscal year, we enhanced our focus on adjacent verticals of auto such as railway, off-road and commercial vehicle segments where our service offerings and capabilities are readily re-deployable. And in a brief span of two quarters, the non-auto sector contributes to over 4% of our transportation vertical’s revenue today.
How does the auto industry slump affect the collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover?
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is a key customer, and we have been working with them for almost 19 years even before they became part of the Tata group. As their strategic partner, we deliver design, technology and engineering services — right from advanced R&D to production programmes. Despite the slump, JLR continues to be our largest customer; we are helping them in their transformational journey, and the collaboration is poised to only grow stronger going forward.
In 2018, Tata Elxsi focused on connected vehicles, driverless vehicles and hybrid vehicles. What has your experience been?
Globally, the four megatrends in the auto industry are connected, autonomous, electric and shared mobility; and our technology roadmap aligns with these trends.
If you broadly look at our automotive revenues, the largest piece is infotainment and connected cars. This is followed closely by both autonomous driving (AD) and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that are a close second in terms of the volume and nature of work. In India although the market for AD has been slow, we see connected and electric picking up traction. The connected vehicle platform that we have developed for Tata Motors, which powers their Nexon EV range of electric cars, is a great example. This unified cloud platform will enable data and analytics synergies for Tata Motors across product development, customer use cases, dealerships, allied business and service networks, thereby enabling innovations in customer experience, offerings, services and business models.
Anything we do for the domestic market is readily deployable globally because it passes the most crucial tests of scale and cost-effectiveness.
Tell us a little about the Robo-Taxi project.
Robo-Taxi is going to play a big part in the future of mobility — shared or otherwise. Implementing level 4 (high) and level 5 (complete) automation in driverless cars is prohibitively costly; the overall cost versus benefits delivered to car owners do not match up. Driverless technologies would be most monetisable when applied to commercial fleets — for both movement of people and goods.We see future cities being served by multimodal transportation systems, with mass transit for the major part and last miles served through Robo-Taxis and pods.
Autonomai, our AI-based advanced autonomous vehicle software platform, has now been licensed to a few customers. Autonomai, overlaid with a user interface application, has been adapted for the Robo-Taxi where users can hail a cab using an app, and the entire journey from booking to payment is digital.
Is Tata Elxsi involved in any other urban transport design projects after the award-winning Kochi Metro rail project?
We have worked and are working on multiple passenger experience design projects in the urban transport segment. Post Kochi metro, we worked on the Kochi Water Metro project; we are working with the railway authorities and leading rolling stock manufacturers on modernising metro and rail infrastructure. We are also helping the Airports Authority of India by setting up the way finding and information design guidelines and implementing them for all new airports and for old projects under renovation.
Tell us about your collaboration with Blackberry for the world’s first digital cockpit concept.
Our off-the-shelf connected digital cockpit solution integrates infotainment, instrument cluster, head-up display and automatic driver assistance functionalities in real-time on a single chip. The partnership with Blackberry was primarily to leverage their expertise in security and provide automakers a safe, secure and reliable digital cockpit, without compromising on the flexibility to deliver a unique driving experience.
In collaboration with Blackberry, we built the world’s first safety-certified digital cockpit that enables secure apps in cars. The feature will be a key differentiator for automakers, as consumers begin to weigh security and data privacy seriously.
You have recently entered new markets in China, Korea, South Africa and the Middle East. Any projects in the pipeline?
We have been evaluating these markets for a while in terms of our service offerings and investment of dedicated sales teams for these regions. We have a market for our automotive service offerings in China and Korea as both the countries feature in the world’s top 5 passenger car manufacturers. Both South Africa and the Middle East are investing heavily in broadcasting, specifically OTT (over-the-top), and we see potential for our media and broadcasting services. Therefore, we have dedicated sales bandwidth for these regions now.
How is Tata Elxsi collaborating under the ‘One Tata’ concept?
Our unique service combination of technology, design and content can help group companies embrace digital technologies in their products and services. Towards this, one of our senior leaders works exclusively in driving and managing group companies’ relationships. We started meeting CXOs across group companies and made them aware of our service offerings and capabilities. This has helped us build multiple engagements and add value.Apart from the work we do for JLR and Tata Motors on advanced research to find futuristic solutions, we also work with other group companies on their branding and marketing initiatives.
We recently, partnered with Tata Sons to deliver the world-class experience design at the Tata Experience Centre in the renovated Bombay House, the group’s headquarters. We worked with Tata Steel for their Kalinganagar plant to deliver a visitor experience centre and even helped them design and curate specific content to bring alive the entire steel making process. We have partnered with The Indian Hotels Company Ltd on various brand design and brand identity projects.
We have also created visualisation films for real estate projects and upcoming campuses for Tata Realty, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Sky among others.
Where do you see Tata Elxsi heading in terms of sectors, technology and people?
All the industries that we address — transportation, media, communications and healthcare — directly impact the consumers and will continue to grow. Our market share in each of these industry verticals is only in the high single digits/low double digits, so there is enough headroom for us to scale. Besides, the increasing rate of disruption in these industries will offer us new and exciting opportunities. The increasing adoption of digital will make products and services more user-centric; here, our design-led engineering capabilities provide us a competitive edge over others. I believe we are in a sweet spot!