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Why analytics makes Tesla better than Jaguar

Rob Enderle | Aug. 11, 2014
The Tesla isn't a perfect car, especially in a market still dominated by gas guzzlers. But the company's widespread use of analytics to study its vehicles improves the customer experience and offers a lesson to automobile industry mainstays still resting on their laurels.

Far from being an annoyance, customers are a critical part of Tesla's decision-making process. In addition, with no dealer network, Tesla interacts with customers directly and not through proxy. (In Jaguar's case, most of the complaints I see aren't being sourced at the dealer but at the Jaguar corporate office, which, in North America at least, appears poorly run.) Since the Jaguar F-Type is a highly marketed halo car designed to change people's minds about Jaguar for the better, the fact that so many loyal Jaguar customers are now expressing disloyalty suggests that Jaguar management is either incompetent or uninformed. (I'd guess the latter.)  

Tesla's use of sensor data, customer contact and analytics appears to scale even better than Apple's. Loyalty at Apple appears to be dropping as the company's human ambassadors, its Genus Bar employees, cycle to other jobs and are replaced by folks who are increasingly less passionate about Apple's ever-more-common products and less tolerant of hearing the same stupid questions over and over again. Machines actually like the same question over and over again and deal with them better than people do.

What really showcases the benefits of applied analytics at Tesla is that the company exists at all. The electric charging infrastructure is pathetic compared to gas, the fully loaded car exceeds $100,000 and it represents a massive risk to anyone who buys it. Rather than go under, though, Tesla has grown faster than the rest of the market, its customer loyalty is far higher, and its car has been rated the best in the world ahead of cars and firms that have been in the car business for more than a century.

Tesla itself runs the most active forums on its own car, which gives it a running sense of what excites and annoys customers and, in turn, gives Tesla a massive advantage over firms that don't host or monitor forums on their cars. I frankly wonder if most auto firms have discovered the Internet.

This suggests that a traditional car company such as Jaguar that adopted and integrated key Tesla practices could become the most successful car company in the world; it wouldn't have to overcome the massive drag that being the only electric car company at scale is to Tesla. Put a different way: This is like watching a bunch of professional hill-climbing experts get passed in an uphill race by an amateur who also happens to be pushing a boulder. You can't help but wonder how fast he'd be if he wasn't pushing the damned boulder.

Data Analytics Is Useless If It Isn't Actionable (and Actually Used)

Analytics can make a massive difference. To assure the customer experience, though, executives must be behind the effort and use the data. Otherwise, the analytics are a waste of money.

 

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