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Accelerating the auto industry's drive to Big Data

24 January 2014 Edouard Tavernier

Six months ago, IHS acquired R.L. Polk & Co., a worldwide leader in automotive information and analytics. It was the largest acquisition to date for IHS, which is saying something, considering the more than 30 acquisitions across a variety of industry sectors that we have made in the past four years alone.

Polk is the only source of record for vehicle registration and ownership in every major global market. Car shoppers may be more familiar with Polk’s sister company, CARFAX, which provides the vehicle history of every car in operation in the United States.

Polk is now part of IHS Automotive, which includes more than 800 automotive experts around the world as well as a vast repository of vehicle design, production, sales, and ownership data. Our analysts know what every major automaker and its suppliers are designing and will be producing during the next 5–10 years. The team is supported by the IHS Big Data & Analytics group, that includes dozens of data scientists and developers focused on developing and managing the analytical tools required to make sense of the Big Data that the industry produces every day.

With the addition of Polk, IHS Automotive is now able to connect the dots between the manufacturer’s decisions about a vehicle, from design to production to sale, and the consumer’s relationship with a vehicle, from evaluating to buying to servicing and disposing of the vehicle.

Ultimately, success in the automotive industry boils down to understanding consumer preferences over a period of years. That means sifting through mountains of complex and often unstructured data compiled from hundreds of millions of consumers and households about what car they will buy next and why, along with when and where they will buy it. That means the auto industry must forecast consumer preferences five or more years out so they align with the vehicles that are being planned today. This demands a deep and nuanced understanding of consumer behavior.

The historical cycles and trajectories of consumer automotive preferences captured in the Polk household database provide insight into consumer behaviors over many years. Connecting Polk data with more ephemeral data on consumer experience, sentiment and tastes—as well as with predictive insight about vehicles in the planning cycle—provides very granular insight into purchasing decisions of households over a period of years. The auto industry is in the early stages of leveraging the power of Big Data. IHS is focused on accelerating the process by providing a key to unlock its potential.

Edouard Tavernier Senior Vice President, IHS Automotive.

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