Pictured above: Alan Chakra with race car driver Richard Petty.
What is your title and practice area within Deloitte Digital?
Alan Chakra: I’m a managing director focused on growth in the major automotive dealer groups and their respective auto makers. I’m concentrated on digital, e-commerce, connected vehicles and analytics in customer experience, sales transactions and the vehicle operational lifecycle.
Tell us a little bit about your background and where you were before Deloitte Digital.
AC: Over my 25 years in the automotive industry, I have gone from working as an auto technician to pay my way through college and autocrossing a rotary powered vehicle for fun, to investing in a management buyout, owning the P&L, and running the North American operations of a tier-one automotive supplier.
(On a side note, I enjoy collector car auctions, vintage motorcycles, and restoring high performance German and British classic cars.)
After college, I joined IBM, where my last role was director of a global business unit for automotive and aerospace verticals, serving customers in the U.S., Germany, France, and Japan. I was also the automotive lead of a research team to build the first IBM connected vehicle pilot and granted a U.S. patent on vehicle diagnostics and health monitoring. After IBM, I was vice president of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) solutions group at Reynolds & Reynolds, a major provider of dealer management systems and franchised auto retail solutions.
What attracted you to Deloitte Digital?
AC: Talent, creativity, resourcefulness, can-do attitude.
What do you believe sets us apart from the competition?
AC: Flexibility, innovation, and being proactive and nimble. In addition, our enthusiasm to help our clients deal with business disruptions and their selective approach in digital transformation to drive sustainable success and gain tangible results.
What’s surprised you the most since starting at Deloitte Digital?
AC: I admire the culture and the way Andy Main [head of Deloitte Digital] leads this team with transparency, creativity, appreciation of the entrepreneur mentality, and innovative thinking to help our clients differentiate their offerings and services.
What do you see as the biggest area for growth in your discipline?
AC: The automotive industry is facing more change in the next 10 years than they have ever experienced in aggregate since inception. Ownership is slowly shifting into usage and shared. Vehicles are heading towards autonomous operation. Mega dealers are getting bigger. Retail giants are moving into this space. Digital customer experience and digital mobility raise customers’ expectations. Megadealers are moving to fixed price and transparency to complete the sales process online, giving the deal reigns to the customer during the transaction. The timing for Deloitte Digital to help clients in this space has never been better, with offerings and platforms that fully integrate the digital experience in sales, operations, and connected vehicle services, built around customer needs, their vehicles, and changing lifestyles.
Growth in our practices will come from developing creative strategies and executing effectively with innovation around data, content, design, and platforms.
What do you think the future looks like for creative agencies?
AC: Stand-alone services will be challenged while customers demand full integration for services from their providers. Deloitte Digital is well positioned to grow in automotive retail with Deloitte’s broad suite of complementary service offerings.
What inspires you?
AC: From an auto industry standpoint, I am inspired by the possibility of having vehicles that never fail—vehicles that we share and don’t own, and the advancement of smart cities.
I am also inspired by Deloitte Digital’s innovations in thinking and design and the strong collaboration that exists locally and globally among the Deloitte network to elate our customers in automotive retail.
As a coach, I am inspired by the technicians that I mentor to advance their skill sets in vehicle electronic network diagnostics, helping secure their path from minimum wage to job security.
And most importantly, my family, who inspire me and give me a purpose.
What’s your favorite emoji?
AC: Big smile.
Better Jimmy, Fallon or Kimmel?
AC: Jay Leno. Too bad he retired, but that gave us Jay Leno’s Garage.
What’s on your current playlist?
AC: Presently, I am listening to the meditations of Marcus Aurelius.