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CEO Spotlight: umlaut’s Samit Ghosh

Samit Ghosh is the chief executive officer Americas at umlaut. MICHauto spoke with Ghosh about his priorities as an industry leader and his prediction of what’s to come for autonomous and electric vehicles.

What is your number one priority as CEO?

As the CEO Americas and Board Member at umlaut SE, I have found my number one priority is giving clarity on the mission of the company so that the starting point, roles and responsibilities, and objectives and challenges are clear. Only then can we work together as one team. This is made possible through constant and repeated communication, which helps remove ambiguity and ensure there is no doubt on what is going to or needs to happen to continue driving the business forward. Then, it is important to give the responsibility directly to all the leaders.

What would you tell young professionals about our automotive industry to keep them in Michigan?

The next generation of fully connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles are not being developed on the east coast or west coast, they are being developed here in the Metro-Detroit area, and is full of opportunities. It’s becoming abundantly clear that automotive is more of a “high-tech” industry, especially as you look at the developing technologies of connectivity, autonomous, electrification, and shared mobility. The vehicle itself will develop more into being an element of a highly connected ecosystem. The car of the future, actually, the car of today, is already full of software and will require further software development to offer all the services or features that we demand from our mobility and transportation device. And of course, it’s not only a mobility and transportation device, but it must also connect seamlessly with our communication device (which umlaut dissects in our most recent white paper about the Connected Digital Cockpit), and the car becomes the “phone on wheels.” And for this continued evolution, we need the amazing capabilities and talent coming out of universities: software development competence, system integration capability, communication technology knowledge. The headquarters of where these technologies are being developed and integrated into a vehicle are in Michigan. The automotive industry is in an unreversible process to shake off its old image. Automotive is attractive. It pays well and offers great opportunities for advancement and professional development.

What is your prediction of electric or autonomous vehicles over the next 5 years? The next 10 – 20 years?

We are currently seeing electrification play a major role in the automotive industry, and this will only accelerate over the next five years. Today, we are developing autonomous driver-assist technologies. We will see these features become more commonly available in the next 5 years and also moving into all different segments of the vehicle market. What really is the game-changer is the integration of electric and driver-assisted vehicles into a larger ecosystem. For that, we need the merging of clever engineering with the digitization of product development as well as a seamless operating system in the back, so not only are the technologies there but the offering services which are enabled by these technologies. In 10-20 years, this ecosystem will be fully integrated into our lives and everyday activities. We will see easy-to-use charging infrastructure across the entire nation that doesn’t depend on extensive trip planning to avoid range anxiety. Business models that rely entirely upon autonomous technologies for the delivery of goods and services are not currently available. Companies like Uber will see a change in their business models when they are able to decrease operating costs, allowing for higher sustainable profitability. Business models that would be too costly all of a sudden become affordable, but seamless integration and seamless deployment are key – and for that, you need the combination of engineering and digitization. That’s why umlaut is so happy to announce its intent to join forces with Accenture because we feel our combined services can make this a reality.

What book are you currently reading that you would recommend? What is the key takeaway?

I’ve been reading a lot of manuals and watching YouTube videos on how to clean out the throttle body on my 26-year-old convertible, because digitization doesn’t fix my rough idle problems on this car.