CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — Group Michelin will focus heavily on the "digital revolution" to create closer relationships with customers and increase information-sharing in the management of tires, President and CEO Jean Dominique Senard told those attending the firm's recent annual shareholders' meeting.
"Customers use, more and more, digital technology," Mr. Senard said. "Even those countries that we call 'emerging'…are more digitalized than ourselves.
"We know that customers are more and more demanding of the information we can give them," he added. "Not only invoicing, but also lead time, delivery time and where we stand in the delivery process."
Michelin could go "much further than just services to tires, thanks to connected tires," he said. Safety, productivity, cost-reduction and environment are also among the areas targeted by Michelin's digital strategy.
The development of these activities at international levels, for example in Asia, is a priority, the executive added.
Among the digital tools Michelin is using is the Engage program, which features dedicated online portals for dealers and business users and automation software to facilitate more personalized contact with business customers and improve the effectiveness of sales teams.
Being launched initially in North America, the Engage program is to be rolled out globally by year-end, he said.
Another digital initiative, Mr. Senard said, was the OPE program launched in late 2012 as a user-oriented, supply-chain facility for both customers and Michelin network operators globally.
Upstream, OPE is designed to track raw materials and semi-finished-products inventories in real time. Downstream, it is expected to redefine how Michelin serves the market by focusing on customer needs and customer relations.
Another finance/purchasing aspect of OPE provides data needed to improve production-cost and margin management.
Another strategy highlighted by the Michelin leader concerned services to improve "mobility efficiency."
"Services to vehicle fleets, whatever their nature, or retreading of truck tires are another cornerstone in our commitment to circular economy. We want to increase our revenue in the area of services two-fold by 2020," he pointed out.
"So yes, all this is under way. We are developing this relation in the U.S., in Europe and in Asian countries. And we'll try do these over the next two or three years.
"In my opinion, we shall have a level of "digitized" relationship that will be very [effective], even in the months to come."
Mr. Senard's address to the Michelin shareholders can be viewed online at Michelin's website.
His comments start at the 1:32.45 mark and run for 30 minutes.