On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles Podcast, Cadillac’s CMO, Melissa Grady, and I look at how they are driving innovation and technology—and what's next for the auto market.
Arriving Home - Back in the Auto Industry
Coming out of grad school, Mellissa started her career in the auto industry, and the years, she has been on the digital industry's leading-edge, from starting her own companies to Motorola, MetLife, and now Cadillac. Since appointed CMO of Cadillac, Melissa has been driving the future of the luxury automotive brand. She's launched various campaigns, including the "Make Your Way", which debuted the 2021 Cadillac Escalade addressing COVID-19 and the unprecedented times we are going through: stating the brand has its consumers' backs.
Building the Next-Gen for the Next-Gen
A lot has changed since I took digital pioneer Autoweb public, when I was their CEO. The automotive industry remains a bit fragile in 2020, with sales down anywhere from 10 to 30%, depending on the brand and country. Unlike other automotive companies, Cadillac has gained momentum to accelerate growth and scale up the manufacturing process. While, my fav, the Escalate launch has been slightly delayed, the company has moved forward towards an electric future 'with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, and Zero Congestion' and has launched its new and exclusive platform.
Unlike Baby Boomers and Gen X, the latest up-and-coming generations are less car crazed and prefer shared mobility—at least before a global pandemic hit the world. Now, as economies gradually reopen, we are seeing significant changes in drivers' behavior. The coronavirus has led to a sharp rise in new car use patterns as commuters, like you, shun public transport. Cars have become the ultimate form of personal protection, understanding that people are comfortable in their "own germs" at home and in car.
We live in a time when technology has never been more critical in consumer segments, including luxury cars, and Cadillac is no exception. Melissa believes that "the two things that are important right now are technology and personalization: Technology brings a whole new level of vehicle personalized experience to life—from the performance driving to advanced AI & AR". Cadillac is known for its high standards, and the company continues to innovate, define and take advantage of tech trends. I was fascinated by the number of different features they offer, like huge OLED screens, 36 speakers and next-gen augmented reality elements to the navigation display.
Tracking with expanding wellness trends, with indexes like the Revieve, Digital Health-Beauty-Wellness Platform, auto companies are more focused on driver/passenger health and comfort. Tech can enhance customer experience and address safety concerns, while also creating value with health and wellness features. With new features like Super Cruise, the first hands-free driving assistance, advanced air filters and massage seats, Cadillac is forging ahead into a new era of luxury tech and safety.
Global brands looked to China in 2020, as they first reopened, and learned about some new consumer behavior patterns, expectations and digital experiences. Even before the pandemic, Cadillac introduced the 'digital showroom' in 2019. This platform enabled customers to view the features and specifications of ten Cadillac models and speak with a product specialist, who can answer vehicle and purchase-consideration questions.
"Such experience opens people's minds about shopping more digitally, and even though it's something we have always offered, the global lock-down accelerated digital and the desire to bring your vehicle to you," says Melissa.
Watch, or tune in wherever you listen to podcasts, to hear how the auto industry is driving the future of tech, with always-on cars becoming open-innovation platforms and smart mobile devices.
About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast: Hosted by Dean DeBiase, The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles
Named a "Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean