Woman on computer

​"We have the DNA of innovation and the will to make things happen"

In a market that changes ever so quickly, with more consumers ever so connected, FCA takes the lead with digital transformation initiatives developed in Brazil.

November 4 2020 - In 2017, FCA's IT staff in Latin America, who participated in the first Digital Challenge, structured projects and presented some innovative solutions for products and processes. The event grew internally and, in the following editions, started to mobilize teams formed by professionals from different areas and representatives from the most diverse boards. “The Digital Challenge is a fundamental tool to leverage the spirit of innovation and intrapreneurship with an agile squad model for our employees. This initiative works on the organizational culture and technology as an important enabler of innovation”, says André Souza, FCA CIO for Latin America.

In the Digital Challenge, teams are like internal startups. The teams go through knowledge bootcamps, training with different technologies and presentations of design thinking techniques and agile methodologies. At the end, the participants deliver the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), presenting solutions to business-related challenges. “This Challenge is a training for new ways of thinking. The team acts autonomously and intra-entrepreneurially”, reflects André.

André Souza, FCA CIO (Chief Information Officer) for Latin AmericaAndré Souza, FCA CIO (Chief Information Officer) for Latin America, is at the forefront of a series of actions on the company's digital transformation journey.

In the Digital Challenge environment, disruptive products and processes emerge. In the 2018 edition, for example, our Easy Tracking was born, a pioneering tool in the Brazilian market as well as in the FCA group, globally. The technology was developed to track vehicle orders within FCA, from registration, through production phases, to the delivery to the end customer.

The tool is in continuous development and is now available to large customers and fleet owners. “Easy Tracking is a clear example of a solution focused on the customer experience, in addition to showing opportunities for improvement in processes, since it monitors the performance of each stage until the delivery of the vehicle to the customer. This type of solution brings transparency and an integrated view of all areas involved in the order fulfillment cycle, so it is essential that all areas of the company embrace the project in order to succeed,” says André.

The event grows with each edition. “This year, we innovated by making an online event with gamification, which will bring together even more people – digitally – and certainly generate great ideas. There are already more than 700 registered participants and 112 proposed solutions”, says André.

Innovation as a value

The Digital Challenge is an initiative of the Latin American team. But, according to André, the expectation is that the format will gain global editions. “We don't do innovation to be different: innovation must bring value to people. And this must be understood in the context of our entire chain, including our employees, suppliers and dealers,” he says.

For André, the digital transformation must be worked on two fronts: looking on the outside, focused on products, sales, customer experience and new digital businesses, and looking on the inside of the company, in industrial processes, back office and employee experiences. More than that, it must articulate experiences that envision the organization as a whole. “FCA has innovation in its DNA which until then was associated with the development of new products. Now, the focus is also on process innovation, in our approach. Cultural transformation is essential”, he says.

Gustavo Delgado, FCA's Innovation and Connectivity Coordinator for Latin America, presents the meaning of innovation for the company: “FCA's innovation strategy is, on the one hand, to protects its core business, which allows us to contribute to an increasingly efficient and sustainable company. At the same time, innovation is a way to explore new territories, new business models, new opportunities”.

Gustavo Delgado, FCA Innovation and Connectivity Coordinator for Latin AmericaGustavo Delgado talks about stimuli and actions that feed a dynamic and plural culture, fundamental to generate innovation.

For both Gustavo and André, innovating often requires skills and knowledge that are not available within the company. Therefore, mobilizing partnerships is fundamental. This is the case of the partnership signed in 2020 with Fiemg, an innovation hub of the Federation of Industries of Minas Gerais (FIEMG) and Instituto Euvaldo Lodi (IEL). FCA will accelerate selected startups, with projects focused on the industry. The company also joined the IPT Open Experience project, an initiative led by the Technological Research Institute of the State of São Paulo (IPT) to foster innovation in large companies. FCA's focus on the partnership is to accelerate the development of technologies for the connected car, with an emphasis on the validation of infotainment systems and vehicle connectivity from the perspective of consumer experience.

And internally, it is important to stimulate the development of multiple knowledges in actions such as the Digital Challenge and the HUB FCA network, a space located at the Fiat Automotive Plant, in Betim (MG, Brazil), which aims to connect FCA to new ecosystems and communities, in collaborative environments. “Structure, team, process, stimuli. We have done some qualified listening to give voice to areas and employees who share their pain and opportunities, while sharing stimuli mapped from the external environment, of entrepreneurs, creativity, including solutions from other industries. This fuels a dynamic and plural culture”, explains Gustavo.

Connectivity value

Breno Kamei, Director of Portfolio, Research and Competitive Intelligence at FCA for Latin AmericaBreno Kamei says that Uconnect is an important step in a larger project that will bring more connectivity to the consumer.

The consumer is increasingly becoming digital and wants smarter vehicles. “We are very clear about the challenge of reframing the car as an open development platform, as is already the case with mobile devices. More than mobility, the connected car will be the starting point for new solutions that will enable relevant changes in the consumer's journey, simplifying everyday tasks in a fluid way. We already know some of the solutions and others we have yet to know. Therefore, we need to foster innovation”, says Breno Kamei, director of Portfolio, Research and Competitive Intelligence at FCA for Latin America.

For Breno, connectivity is one of the strengths of FCA teams in Brazil. In 2020, FCA launched the new generation of the Uconnect multimedia center, which has already debuted on the Fiat Toro and Nova Strada. Developed in Brazil, the technology will be applied to vehicles of different FCA brands in the world. “Brazilians are constantly online and are demanding users. We not only have the technical capacity, but the experience of a very connected consumer as well”, he says.

Uconnect is the first multimedia center in the Brazilian market to offer wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to having tools for personalized use. "Uconnect is the first step, and a fundamental step, for building a project that is much bigger", explains Breno.

Leadership and recognition

All this work on planning and implementing initiatives focused on innovation has gained recognition. In September, FCA was among “The 100+ Innovators in the Use of IT”, according to a survey carried out by the IT Mídia group. The company was also included in the list of the 100 leading open innovation companies in Brazil, in the TOP 100 Open Corps ranking. Recently, the company was considered the most innovative car manufacturer in Brazil, according to Valor Econômico's 2020 Innovation Yearbook, which evaluated 214 companies from 23 economic sectors.

Awards like these show that FCA stands out inside and outside the automotive sector, overcoming existing challenges for large companies inserted in a heated innovation ecosystem, in which startups and technology companies move with agility and grow exponentially. “At FCA, our view is more qualitative than quantitative. For that, it is necessary to search, find the strategic opportunity, based on a value proposal that can stand out from countless others, with a team that has the appropriate skills for the challenge ”, says Gustavo Delgado.

Words: Luiza Lages

Pictures: Marketing

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