Presented by The Dallas Regional Chamber
The Toyota Motor Corp. is bringing the future of mobility to the world, and two key initiatives toward that end are occurring in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Toyota Connected North America Inc., established in 2016 in Plano, uses big data analyzed on a cloud platform to improve the driving experience and to benefit dealers, distributors, and partners. Some of Toyota Connected’s work includes analyzing traffic patterns, driving behavior, and connecting drivers to transportation systems. Toyota Connected planned to grow to 100 full-time employees, mostly data engineers and data scientists, by the end of 2017.
Toyota Motor North America, which has centralized its operations in Plano, employs nearly 300 software/data employees in its endeavor to simultaneously improve both the driving experience and company operations. These workers are using data and software to build tools that support the core of their North American business: supply-chain management, manufacturing systems, human resources, customer satisfaction, marketing, and more.
Where ‘Big D’ Stands for Digital
“Cars are starting to become more software-centered — in terms of how they operate and the services for the customer,” said Jayadev Gopinath, general manager, Advanced Technologies, Data and Analytics at Toyota Motor North America.
Gopinath said Toyota views its advances in data collection, machine learning, and artificial intelligence as key elements in expanding the automaker’s capabilities.
“From the operations side of things … there’s a trend toward digital, software, and data. A lot of what we’re doing is responding to that shift by being more proactive with things like machine learning and artificial intelligence,” Gopinath said.
The work at Toyota Connected, meanwhile, will focus on incorporating data into all aspects of driving, from maintenance, to navigation, to safety features. Gopinath calls it a curated customer experience.
“As an example, say a warning indicator light goes on while you’re on the street, we’ll notify you and the dealer,” he said, adding that other conveniences, such as guided navigation, music services, and online restaurant reservation systems will be integrated into Toyota vehicles as innovations continue.
As for finding the developers with the skills and experience needed for the Toyota Connected venture and for Toyota Motor North America, Gopinath says Toyota has been very pleased with the quality of the local workforce, and always looks for the best while filling openings.
“We’re not just looking locally, but we’re looking for the best people.”
“We’re not just looking locally, but we’re looking for the best people,” he said.
Gopinath is one of numerous company employees who pulled up stakes in California, to move to the relatively unknown (to many Californians) environs of Texas.
He says nearly all Toyota transplants were pleasantly surprised when they saw Dallas-Fort Worth’s low real-estate prices, good schools, and overall quality of life.
“It wasn’t so much that I was moving here, as it was my family,” said Gopinath, who lived with his family in Palos Verdes — a hilly, verdant community located along the Pacific Coast. He now resides with his family in Southlake.
“Having good schools and housing makes a big difference,” Gopinath said. “Something noticeable here is, if you go shopping, there’s actually parking available.”
Gopinath recalls that when his family lived in Palos Verdes, he and other parents worked to raise money through the school’s Education Foundation, to provide extracurricular programs for their children.
In Southlake, the Carroll school district is able to provide that support to its students, he said.
And, where Gopinath once sat in his car half an hour to travel 10 miles to Toyota’s former headquarters in Torrance, California, he now makes a 35-minute (at most), 25-mile drive from Southlake to Toyota’s new HQ in Plano.
This story first appeared in Dallas Innovates 2018, an annual magazine that showcases Dallas-Fort Worth as a hub of innovation. Read more about the region’s game changers, disruptors, creatives, and our new frontiers in the digital edition.
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