Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog

Big data is the term for a collection of data so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using common database management tools or traditional IT applications. The challenges include how to capture, store, search, share, transfer, analyze and visualize it. We can see how big data would be beneficial to companies like Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, eBay and others but how about closer to home?

Automotive manufacturers and suppliers consider analytics and big data – in and out of vehicles – the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity. These companies continue to expand their use of big data as more and better technologies, methodologies and data elements emerge. Scientists, mathematicians, computer modelers and other researchers are joining engineers in using the latest in analytics to discover ways to eliminate environmental and safety concerns while supporting the bottom line.

What areas of the auto industry can benefit from this analysis? Consider Fuel Economy. Combined standards for U.S. Cars and Light Trucks mandate that automakers provide an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon for the 2025 model year. Pressure on auto manufacturers to reach this goal and remain eco-conscious are the main drivers behind developing new science-based models that project CO2 emissions generated by the fleet of vehicles on roads worldwide for the next 50 years. This information will help auto companies meet aggressive fuel economy targets while remaining green.

The auto industry also is using science and math to show that one particular form of alternative engine power is unlikely to emerge above all others, helping to make the case for a diversified portfolio of powertrains ranging from petroleum engines, hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies, flex-fuel, all-electric, biodiesel, CNG and LPG.

Further, big data is providing clues into the demand and availability of strategic materials used in powertrains, including rare earth elements, lithium and platinum group metals. This also extends into the optimal use of current and future bio-fuels.

Companies are using analytics to optimize driving routes to reduce a vehicle’s impact on local air quality in specific locations, such as near hospitals, schools and in high density residential areas. They are creating sophisticated mathematical models to provide insight into consumer acceptance of electric vehicles and the electrification of personal transportation.

They are developing analysis tools aimed at measuring energy and water use along with greenhouse gas emissions associated with alternative fuels and materials. This allows them to expand the number of environmentally friendly components in vehicles.

There are many unique, exciting and almost endless possibilities for the future of big data in the auto industry and Southeast Michigan. These possibilities are helping manufacturers and suppliers remain competitive, provide many new jobs and contribute to a cleaner, brighter, better world.

These opportunities explain why demand for IT talent and professionals has been skyrocketing in our region, and why partners are coming together to address that need through career awareness, job exposure, experiential learning opportunities, and more. We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the possibilities: current and future workers—and those interested in their training and education—should keep tabs on this important trend that is fundamentally changing the way companies do business.

Note: Gary Heitman, Business and Career Liaison for the Workforce Intelligence Network, provided research and content for this blog.

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