Holger Hampf on Digitalization and the Analog Touchpoint

Holger Hampf from BMW Group Design spoke about the evolution of the automobile industry from one focused on manufacturing. He acknowledged being new to the world of service design and instead focused on how digital experiences are being integrating with the automotive world from a product design perspective.

He spoke about a paradigm shift in automobiles from driving machines to a digital device as a trustable and reliable co-pilot. He projected that in 10 to 15 years the focus might shift to the automobile as a lifestyle space. Essentially quiet time in your 2nd living room.

The disruptive service economy was top of mind in his presentation. Add to that the expectations of experience-savvy consumers who are used to high quality digital experiences and he sees the need for an iconic change. New driving experience such as autonomous driving, and e-mobility are the most important elements in creating a unique customer experience in the interior of the future

Two examples of companies that are transforming themselves are a German lighting company Erco, who are not selling lighting fixtures, they’re selling “light,” focused more on the result and less on the hardware. The second example is well known in the world of service design. Rolls Royce doesn’t sell engines anymore; they sell service and maintenance of their engines. They’re selling runtime; engine power by the hour. I believe there’s more about that shift in Pine and Gilmore’s The Experience Economy.

But what does that mean for BMW? It’s critical to anticipate user needs. It’s not about bending sheet metal; it’s about an emotional experience. To communicate with the driver BMW is creating a new digital architecture for the car interior; roughly 1000 icons that communicate status; even he doesn’t know all of them. Some of the icons he showed were especially cryptic. His design group is learning and has room to improve in this regard.

85 / 15 was his characterization of the division between analog and digital experiences at BMW. But to be relevant there’s an opportunity to blend the visceral elements of product design such as aesthetics, functionality, ergonomics and material quality with the experience as a behavioral element in terms of usability contextual intelligence and flexible customization.

He ended by framing the car as a delivery platform for mobility services.

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