“Ford Motor Company” is one of the leading automakers in America. The company’s business depends mostly on brands that are durable and safe to the end-users. Customers have shifted their focus towards brands that incorporate smart-driving and capability to user wearable computing devices to guarantee road safety. This paper explores the milestones made by Ford to tap the potential of wearable computing technology and what needs to be done to boost the implementation of the new technology. The report features external and internal drivers, the strategic plan for implementing the latest technology and practical recommendations that can help the company to optimize implementation of the new technology.
Organization: Ford Motor Company
“Ford Motor Company” was founded by Henry Ford along with other 11 investors in 1903. The automaker is one of the leading manufacturers of tractors, trucks, passenger vehicles and a variety of automotive accessories and parts and it is headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). The company is one of the global automakers that have decided to employ wearable computing technology to elevate sales and optimize the levels of customer satisfaction.
“Ford Motor Company” continues to explore how it can integrate wearable computing technologies into its brands. Apart from identifying mobile health as one of the key areas of interest, the automaker also established “Automotive Wearables Experience” lab in 2016 (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). The facility is housed at “Ford Research and Innovation Center” in Dearborn, and it continues to help Ford and other automakers create sophisticated and interconnected vehicles, especially in the areas of safety, wellness, and health.
The works at the lab will remarkably evolve the healthcare sector, especially in an era where the health systems try to boost remote monitoring systems. The head of Infotronics at Ford, Gary Strumolo has affirmed that apart from incorporating mobile health technologies via tracking devices and smartwatches, they are also ready to address the internal challenges associated with integrating wearable computing technology in their brands (Lakhani, Iansiti &Fisher 2014, 17). Currently, Ford is focusing more on developing wearable technologies that can help in monitoring chronic conditions in their brands.
Wearables and mobile health present one of the practical ways overcoming some internal complexities associated with adding new technologies into vehicles. Three methods employed by automakers to integrate health and safety technologies into cars include cloud (beamed in), brought in, and built-in. (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). The latter is quite expensive and takes a long time while brought-in technology is fast and more affordable. Wearables are more attractive to the automakers because they enhance the market value of vehicle brands.
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A past survey on connected automobiles that focused more on European markets projected that the yearly sales of connected automobile technologies would triple to over $138 billion by the end of 2021 (Barfiel2015, 17). Ford and other automakers are now focusing more on safety and health, mainly due to the expected increase of older drivers. Biometric data can provide crucial information about the health of the driver including the stress and alertness levels (Lakhani et al. 2014, 19). Strumolo elaborates that continuous gathering of biometric data would make the Ford brands more accurate and enhance the level of sensitivity of driver-assist systems, mainly when the driver exhibits signs of compromised awareness or health.
The wearable computing technology would also alert the driver about an accident ahead to remain vigilant or slow the vehicle to minimize the distance from other cars ahead. Strumolo also pointed out that lack of promising growth from the leading providers inspired Ford to incorporate mobile health in the wearables tech research (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). Just like in the healthcare sector, the gap between the wearable computing tech providers and the users has continued to increase each year. Medical organizations and insurers are likely to recommend brands with more inbuilt and wearable health and safety features.
The Ford team will address common issues like drivers falling asleep while on the road and other people living with lifestyle conditions like diabetes. The battery source of the wearables is another major setback to the efficacy of wearable computing technology (Lakhani et al. 2014, 29). The process of retrieving data drains power from the device. Therefore, enhancing energy management is another remarkable breakthrough in wearable technology. The same technology can also be replicated in the healthcare sector, especially if remote monitoring is improved.
External and Internal Drivers
- External Drivers. The ever-growing competition in the automobile industry is the primary external driver. The emergence of many other automakers focusing on smartly connected driving including Volvo, Tesla, BMW and Volkswagen (VW) motivate Ford to concentrate more on improving its smart connected driving features in most of its brands (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). BMW successfully concluded a Google Glass pilot project in one of its plants located in Spartanburg. The primary objective was assessing the profitability of smart glass technology, especially for the quality guarantee in pre-series vehicle assessments (Lakhani et al. 2014, 33). The VW, one of the leading automakers in Germany, also rolled out smart glasses and one of the typical equipment for all factory employees. The users claimed that smart glasses enabled them to elevate their level of production because they could now see the ideal field of vision (Lakhani et al. 2014, 37). Nissan and Mercedes have also added some unique inbuilt apps in their brands to help in monitoring the driver’s fatigue levels, fuel efficiency, and speed. In the coming years, the automobile industry will continue to employ the transformative effects of wearable computing technology in numerous pilot and research projects (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781. In the following years, wearable computing technology will also be used to streamline manufacturing processes and worker and consumer interactions like automotive retail processes and worker safety.
- Internal Drivers. Ford has realized that employing wearable computing tech will help them to improve the market value of their brands and increase employees’ safety. The wearables research lab in Dearborn will help Ford experts to connect crucial health information into their car assembly technologies. In 2014, Ford explored the integration of “Virtual Reality-VR” in the vehicle design processes, especially the utilization of VR headsets by Ford engineers to assess the potential vehicle designs in a virtual setting (Lakhani et al. 2014, 37). The fundamental idea was that the advanced headsets and different movements capture hi-tech cameras would help Ford automobile assembly experts working at Detroit to survey the outlines of new brands and furthermore walk or move around virtual brands of chosen models. Under the proposed innovation, the automaker would send its lead designers to different parts of the world to evaluate modern models virtually. The new Lab will help the Ford experts to enhance the wearable tech (Hatton 2017, 9,542,781). Ford wishes to be the leading global automaker to exemplify and tap the full potential of wearables tech in pilot and research projects including design, manufacturing, vehicle sales and the end-user during driving experience. Ford will continue to explore the three critical areas of application including consumer-facing, employee-facing, and behind-the-scenes facing (Lakhani et al. 2014, 41). Ford anticipates profiting more from the advanced development and enhancing the lifestyle and safety happiness of their customers.
Part II: Planning
The wearable technology proposed by Ford experts align with the mandate, processes, and goals of the automaker. Ford aims to make more user-friendly and safe brands to compete at international levels (Mtibaa, Harras, Habak, Ammar & Zegura 2015, 113). Ford also seeks to boost the customer satisfaction levels by making brands with practical in-built health and wellness features. Prospective customers are likely to focus more on brands that assure the maximum safety. Barfiel (2015) points out that no firm can succeed without investing in new technologies that can transform the customers’ experience (27). The technology also needs to align with set legal rules and regulations.
Automotive customers prefer a brand that can assure proper communication, professional assistance, and ready access to instructions. Wearable tech can boost efficiency on the automotive assembly lines and enable the employees working in the production and sales lines visualize the standard ordered trim package on the brands coming down the line even without having to go through the manifest list (Chatterjee, Ledbetter, Son, Christopher & Ferlan 2016, 386). Wearable devices like smart watches and smart glasses represent a merging category of mobile tech that provides both the automotive workforce and the customer’s direct interaction with the automation and smart investments.
The new wearable tech aims to increase Ford’s performance, efficiency and boost productivity. Ford Company must adopt a process that guarantees the success of incorporating wearable tech into their vehicle brands (Chatterjee et al. 2016, 386). To maintain the right momentum, the senior management at Ford must appoint the team members and team leaders to ensure the technology is successfully and fully implemented. The teams must also monitor the implementation and usage of the wearable tech. Barfiel (2015) observes that the other important factor to consider is communicating openly with workers and sharing the organizational benefits and elaborating more what motivates the new technology (31).
The project manager and the senior management must also share with the employees and team members the implications of failing to implement the new technologies. The wearable tech would increase the value of Ford brands, increase the sales margins and perhaps lead to increase in employees’ salaries in the future (Ens, Grossman, Anderson, Matejka & Fitzmaurice 2015, 467). The team managers also need to take the time to collect opinions from other workers and address their responses.
Transparency is also critical during the implementation process. Transparency keeps friction at manageable levels that might potentially come from the adoption of the new wearable tech. A previous study by the “American Psychological Association” confirmed that only 20 percent of workers believe that their employers are upfront and open with them (Fagnot 2015, 29/460,881).
A seamless technological transition cannot be achieved without ensuring that workers understand their processes and roles. Avoiding the impulse to rush is also a critical requirement during the tech implementation process. The implementation process needs to be handled professionally. The project manager and the teams must be committed to ensuring the new technology is fully implemented rather than wasting time to recycle through a variety of possible techniques to select the ideal one (Cohen 2018, 9,870,357).
The CEO, project head, and the critical decision makers must provide the project team with reliable support. The support systems must have the capability to mitigate the drawbacks that might arise during the project implantation process (Cohen 2018, 9,870,357). Modern approaches to training also need to be employed. Digital help centers are more resourceful than manual materials and programs (Page 2015, 23). The project manager must ensure that each member of the teams is appropriately trained and prepared to assist in the implementation of the new technology.
Working from the bottom up is also crucial before implementing any new technology. The newly implemented technology is expected to yield the expected results within the stipulated timeline. Barfiel (2015) elaborates that the project manager and the team leaders also need to assess the cost and functionality from time to time (41). The new technology should be intuitive and easily accessible to all the users. The project manager and the senior management should also cultivate a progressive digital culture in the entire process of implementation.
Benefits of the New Technology
The high cost of implanting smart diving features and wearable devices is the primary challenge to the implementation of the technology (Cohen 2018, 9,870,357). Other issues include the security and privacy issues. However, the use of wearable devices and other inbuilt smart driving features will help to increase the efficiency and the profit margin of Ford Motor Company. Apart from vibration warnings and alerts, smart devices also have “onscreen buttons” to call 911 or back office as one way of enhancing personal safety.
The wearable features enable the device to communicate with car’s telematics system information to offer vibration-centered security alerts to the driver concerning various issues like blind spots and lane changes. Barfiel (2015) affirms that the wearable technology is a tested way of enhancing the driver performance (45). Wearables communicate critical road and vehicle events with the driver. Apart from helping drivers to manage fatigue, wearables can be used to monitor the performance of the driver against other motorists. The wearable tech and the smart-connected-driving applications can also be employed to monitor information from the vehicle’s telematics system.
Strategies for Maintaining and Increasing Customers
Ford promotion team need to inform loyal and prospective customers about the benefits of investing in brands that have inbuilt smart driving features and wearable devices. Techno-savvy customers first assess the advantages of using new wearable technology. Barfiel (2015) observes that the project manager and the team must also focus on devices that can be easily used by drivers without compromising the road safety issues like the use smartwatches and other accessories (47). Such user-friendly gadgets also allow the driver to access the information instantly. Therefore, the new technology will benefit both Ford and the customers.
Implementation and Change Management
The management of Ford automobile business is likely to change with the integration of smart driving features and wearables. The production department will be most affected because it will be responsible for implementing the new technology (Fleck, Boh, Garcia, Joers & Toney 2017, 9,668,367).
The assignments should be only allocated to well-trained team members to ensure the project is implemented on time without compromising the self-esteem of the employees (Ens et al. 2015, 469). Both customers and workers should be thoroughly included in the decision-making processes before implementing the project. Consultations across all departments would also play a critical role in boosting the adaptability of the new technology.
Ford Motor Company is adopting the wearable computing and smart driving technology at the right time. The new technology will give the global automaker a competitive edge. The project manager needs to ensure that all the necessary resources are available before implementing the new computing technology. Both human resources and monetary resources are required to optimize the implementation of the new technology. The project manager and the senior management also need to assess the progress of the project at different implementation phases.
Ford Motor Company is implementing wearable computing and smart-driving technology at the right time. The new technology will help the automaker to increase the profit margin and increase the customer satisfaction levels. In the coming years, customers are likely to focus more on vehicle brands that assure maximum road safety and wellness. Ford has a responsibility to continue using the new technology. Wearable and smart-driving technology feature sophisticated personal safety and health features like warnings and vibration alerts. The technology also enhances the vehicle safety since the vehicle can work with the telematics system information in the car. Ford must continue to invest wearable computing technology to remain competitive in the global automobile industry.
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