ALD Automotive is a global reference in the financing and management of corporate vehicle fleets in 40 countries. The final of The Driver Experience Challenge, organized by Agorize for ALD Automotive, was held on January 12, 2016 in the headquarters of Société Générale in La Défense, near Paris. The 6 finalist teams presented their project in front of Mike Masterson, CEO of ALD International, and top managers of ALD Automotive and Société Générale. Their goal was to create a multitude of new ideas to improve the driver experience before, during and after driving.
We took that opportunity to interview ALD Automotive’s Global CAO John Saffrett.
1. According to you, what is an innovative company, in every sector and especially in the automotive industry?
For me an innovative company is one which leads its market and constantly reinvents its client experience to bring new value to all its stakeholders. An innovative company puts the customer experience at the heart of its existence and organises itself around the client instead of expecting the client to adapt to its world. These companies also share a wonderful characteristic of firstly employing great people and then secondly empowering them to be entrepreneurial and ambitious. For me this DNA is not unique to a sector or industry but it is a unique quality of world class innovative organisations.
“An innovative company puts the customer experience at the heart of its existence and organises itself around the client”
2. Do you recall some innovative initiatives which were significant to you in the past few months?
Innovation surrounds us everyday in small and large doses. It is not always the headline makers or big bangs that represent innovation but the simple things as well. Most of the recognised innovations we see today are pivots from a legacy business model onto a more client centric model. In Société Générale and ALD Automotive I see people doing this everyday and the culture of doing this is becoming normalised. During our Driver Experience Challenge I saw outstanding examples of innovation and ideas where talented individuals had unpacked parts of our business model and made it simpler and better and more rewarding for the client.
“During our Driver Experience Challenge […] talented individuals had unpacked parts of our business model and made it simpler and better and more rewarding for the client.”
3. In the challenge, why did you choose the “driver experience” topic ?
We chose the driver experience as the subject of our challenge because the driver is our client and we wanted to create an event where we could encourage collaboration within and outside ALD Automotive to enhance this experience. The challenge had all the ingredients that I used to describe innovative companies earlier: reinventing the client experience by asking great people to be ambitious and entrepreneurial and define a new better experience with the driver at the heart of it. We also recognise at ALD Automotive that whichever direction the industry takes whether it is car sharing, autonomous vehicles or any other developments there will always be somebody inside the car and even if they have their hands on the wheel or not we need to make their ALD Automotive experience an amazing moment.
“[We] wanted to create an event where we could encourage collaboration within and outside ALD Automotive to enhance this experience.”
4. What will you do with all the ideas suggested during the challenge?
We chose the longer hackathon format with our partners Agorize because we wanted an end product. We wanted to create a program where the driver experience was enhanced and we could show all entrants to the challenge that their idea could become reality. We are currently working with both winning teams to organise ourselves and create new products inspired by their ideas before the middle of 2016 and it is an exciting journey for us and them. We also are excited to review the huge number of ideas that were submitted and create a number of new offers based on these. In fact some countries have already launched real projects based on some of the other entries and this is a fantastic example of how the innovation spirit can become a real competitive advantage for an organisation.