On October 7, the CIOmove visited BMW IT in Munich at the invitation of BMW Group CIO Alexander Buresch.
Topic wise and in addition to the agile software development of BMW internal software projects and working methods, the focus was on BMW’s digital customer experience:
Together with Accenture subsidiary Mackevision, the carmaker has been developing a new form of customer experience within the ordering process called “EVE”, which is being developed since 2019. The abbreviation “EVE” stands for: “Emotional Virtual Experience”.
For the customer, “EVE” is the photorealistic 3D representation of any BMW or Mini in all globally available variants on any display. For the dealer’s employees, the tool is a solution integrated into the sales system that allows them to present a customer’s desired vehicle in a vivid, emotional way without media disruption or loss of information. And for the BMW Group, EVE is an integral part of the digital customer ecosystem that the automaker has been building for several years.
“The customer needs emotional incentives when making a purchase decision”, says Marcel Beneke-Wysocki, who is the departmental Product Owner Customer Touchpoints at Retail at the BMW Group. “The days are gone when a customer walks out of the dealership with a paper catalog. Today, the customer takes their individual configuration home with them in 3D animations and videos and can adjust it again at any time. For example, the texture of the leather or the exterior colour can be discussed and elaborated at the dining table at home”.
The best thing about this new feature is, that it requires solely a modest investment on the individual dealer’s side. A large display with a seating area, as it has been standard for years, and a computer – the so-called rendering machine – is everything the dealer needs. But however, the sales experience at the dealership has also been changed. The dealer’s desk is now opened towards the customer, with the screen running “EVE” next to it. The sales talk and the adjustments to the desired vehicle can thus not only be presented better, but the customer can also be advised in a more low-threshold manner.
The exciting thing about the system is that the available equipment variants and extras can be loaded into the engine at any time in real time. This means it does not require the computing power of BMW’s cloud servers, but “EVE” locally generates the images and animations of the desired car mode. “This takes into account the fact that broadband connections of all BMW and Mini dealers worldwide to our servers are just not realistic”, says Harald Hechler, who is the IT-side Product Owner Customer Touchpoints at Retail within the BMW Group. The Rendering Machine holds the 3D image data for more than 50 of the OEM’s vehicle variants, including all equipment options.
The visualization of a vehicle with “EVE” is based on the design data from the vehicle development process, which is “naturally processed and stripped down to customer-relevant views” as Hechler puts it. Technically, the visualization is based on Epic Games’ “Unreal Engine” game engine. “The representation of the models is not only realistic, but also very detailed”, says Beneke-Wysocki. “The customer really sees his or her future vehicle, not just any vehicle”. This works not only with new cars, but also with used ones, since the equipment can be determined on the basis of the chassis number.
“EVE” is a symbol of further developments of the BMW Group’s digital customer ecosystem and stands for truly connected platforms. The dealer now uses only one software for all components of the ordering process. From the fully integrated Salesforce CRM, through vehicle configuration and visualization with “EVE”, to ordering the vehicle and after-sales.