Switching on the Aftermarket: Autotech Connect Launched

Switching on the Aftermarket: Autotech Connect Launched

At an intimate event at Millbrook Proving Ground today, the Autotech Group announced the launch of its latest division – Autotech Connect. 

After a morning discussing the increasing importance of cybersecurity to businesses, both small and large, the training and recruitment group revealed what felt more at this stage like a commitment than a tangible plan. Autotech Group CEO, Gavin White, opened the day’s event in typical straight forward manner, outlining the key challenges facing the aftermarket and how they relate to each other.

Listing a flurry of shortcomings, including the much fabled skills shortage, an inability to move with the times to match the changing vehicular landscape (i.e. not enough adoption of EV servicing and training) and a complacent approach to cyber security, Gavin painted a portrait of an industry sleepwalking into oblivion (or sleepwalking until it comes time to sell up the bricks and mortar to the local developer, a fate

Had we come to Millbrook to sit in a glass shed surrounded by the roars of the latest cars in development passing by (no photos, please and thank you) simply to have the doom-laden ghosts of the automotive future rattle their chains before us? Well, partly, yes, but not without reason. As the talks from the assortment of tech, security and insurance companies invited along made clear, there is a silver lining to today’s dark clouds – metaphorically, at least; meteorologically speaking, the clouds remain determined bar spring’s progress for as long as they can.

Today’s announcement, that Autotech would be “leveraging the expertise of specialists in order to help aftermarket businesses implement technology effectively to drive business effciency, build robust cyber security defences and increase productivity” may provide a guiding light to those who see the aftermarket drifting towards the rocks.

The solution proposed includes, but is not limited to, “assisted reality” – i.e. enhancing the reality around you using wearable technology to provide a digital element to the world around you. Indeed, this is something the group has already begun rolling out in IMI-affiliated training centres.

As non-specific as the announcement may so far be, it does provides an indication of the direction Autotech sees the automotive industry travelling in. Could a greater integration of technology into training centres, dealers and independent garages provide an answer to last year’s Talent Recharge event’s main query – how to reverse the skills exodus from the automotive industry?

The group’s CEO certainly seems to think so, displaying a graphic of an iceberg showing staffing issues above the surface of the water, with more technology-led issues such as cyber secruirty, connected vehicles, and access to vehicle data in the murky depths below.

Changing landscape

A key takeaway from today’s launch is that cybersecurity is not optional and affects all businesses, from small to big. Indeed, as was stated in one of the talks, hackers target businesses based on their vulnerabilities, not their size. If a Tesla can be hacked into in under two minutes, imagine what easy pickings independent garages present to the unscrupulous.

The idea that cybersecurity is simply an IT issue is a myth. Anything or anyone connected to the internet is vulnerable to an extent. Essentially it’s just a part of the modern world which individuals and businesses need to navigate.

But it’s not just cybersecurity, it’s the whole range of technological, or connected, systems and solutions that businesses now need to engage with: aspects of a modern business that in complexity have gone far beyond anything seen before. As was discussed in one of the talks, the industry is undergoing an “incredible change”, wherein the focus shifts from the mechanical to the technological. Therefore workshops need to start thinking much more seriously about their structural weak points.

The definition of “connected” was brought up to emphasise how the group intends to bring together each of the different strands of the industry and what it provides. Security, skills, carbon emissions, data restrictions… they can all be solved by a professional approach to technology. Is this using more technology to solve the problems created by technology? Perhaps. If we turn, however, to amateur etymology, we might shed some more light on this “connected” world in which modern workshops find themselves. A brief flick through my book of word origins reveals that connect comes from the latin for bind together. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see the aftermarket as not only connected, but bound to technological change – for better or worse.


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