Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is proving to be a more progressive company with an aggressive embrace of emerging technologies. From their partnership with Microsoft to build their Telematics Platform on Windows Azure cloud to today’s announcement about their alliance with Salesforce.com to use Chatter to develop their own social network for Toyota customers and others, Toyota is clearly signaling that they are not a conservative enterprise user of technology. Even though it can easily be categorized as a bold move by a large company like Toyota, I would rather term it as a logical evolution to meet the demands of today’s tech driven lifestyle.
According to Salesforce.com’s Press Release,
Toyota Friend will be a private social network that connects Toyota customers with their cars, their dealership, and with Toyota. Toyota Friend will provide a variety of product and service information as well as essential maintenance tips, creating a rich car ownership experience. For example, if an EV or PHV is running low on battery power, Toyota Friend would notify the driver to re-charge in the form of a “tweet”-like alert. In addition, while Toyota Friend will be a private social network, customers can choose to extend their communication to family, friends, and others through public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The service will also be accessible through smart phones, tablet PCs, and other advanced mobile devices.
Social Business has evolved from the periphery to mainstream in the last two years and any smart organization is expected to tap into these technologies. Consumer facing businesses like Toyota Motors can easily tap into them to increase customer satisfaction many fold. Especially after the recent PR mishaps, Toyota needs aggressive courting of their customers and a social strategy tapping into the newer technologies is the right way to do it.
When I wrote the post about Toyota’s embrace of Azure cloud for their Telematics platform, I wrote
Even though this is a big win for Microsoft’s cloud platform, I would extrapolate it to claim that this is a big win for cloud in general. Toyota is clearly showcasing a very good use case for cloud computing and the fact that they trust cloud computing for a critical service like Telematics. It will be interesting to see how this project plays out in the coming year.
TCM’s embrace of cloud based Chatter is another use case of cloud computing in the enterprise market. Social is in the DNA of cloud and by embracing a cloud based service, Toyota is signaling that they are not hesitant to use technologies hosted by the third party providers. By trusting the data about their critical customer relationships with the cloud providers, Toyota is sending a clear message that they trust the cloud for mission critical (Telematics Platform) and business critical (Toyota Friend) needs. Toyota is truly a cloud enterprise and I hope other enterprise customers follow their example when it comes to using newer technologies like social, mobile and cloud.
- Toyota, Salesforce.com Set up Vehicle Owner Social Network (pcworld.com)
- Toyota and Salesforce.com team up for in-car social networking service (thenextweb.com)
- Salesforce.com to build private label social network for Toyota (zdnet.com)
- The Truth of Things is in the Cloud (cloudblog.salesforce.com)