Jan 5, 2023

Live from Las Vegas as part of CoinDesk TV's special coverage of CES 2023, Microsoft Global Chief Strategy Officer of Mobility Henry Bzeih shares insights into driving the tech giant into the metaverse and revolutionizing the experience of buying cars.

Video transcript

Our first guest has a career that spans 28 years in the automotive and tech sector, including leadership roles at flex Automotive Kia, as well as Ford. Now, he's behind the wheel at Microsoft, driving the company into the metaverse and aiming to revolutionize the experience of buying cars. Joining us now is Henry be he's the Global Chief Strategy Officer of Mobility at Microsoft. Henry. Thanks for racing on that. I know you just completed the panel. This place is a labyrinth to navigate, but I am very curious, I didn't see the Microsoft booth. What is Microsoft doing in the metaverse will totally show in the metaverse. I mean, from an exhibition perspective, we're trying to focus on mobility cross functionally. Obviously, when we talk about uh the whole customer experience, uh you have to factor in the metaverse, right? Transforming that experience from its traditional way of communicating with customers into a new digital way, virtual way. Well, I know that Microsoft at CS unveiled the virtual car show room. So what exactly is that? So basically take an example of the work we're doing with fiat, which is the ability for any given customer to reconfigure or configure the fiat 500 E for example, colors, features, functions and so forth. You mean you can choose the options? Yes. So it's a cool way of interacting with customers these days and it's an expectation. I think, you know, if you think about it in terms of how customers today utilize a digital life in every aspect, this is a natural progression. So you can actually go in there and choose your options and kind of look at it before creating it. What about the security of the whole notion of zero trust? Well, so everything we do is comes with end to end security. So we make sure that the protections are there. Microsoft is renowned for security products that we have from the Microsoft office all the way to our cloud. And so, so we definitely take that as a number one priority, any interaction that we do. All right, you're also looking at opportunities in autonomous vehicles and electrification, what's going on there. Exactly. So as you know case which stands for connectivity, automation, electrification and mobility shared mobility Microsoft is sitting behind the scenes in an enablement mode. And so what we do is create that edge to cloud product and solution areas for our customers. So we don't compete with them. We don't really create products to compete with our suppliers and OE which is the original equipment manufacturers. And so what we do is we work closely with them on enablement. And so we create the capabilities for data, for A I for machine learning, for a cloud hosting environment, for simulation and the various product development aspects that they need in their delivery of these products. Right? So when you're creating your showroom, is it a centralized closed environment if you will or are you also looking at decentralized platforms? So we are definitely not just focused on a closed ecosystem. We are big supporters of the open ecosystem. So we embrace open and we embrace more a collaborative model. Are there certain platforms you're thinking of in particular? So the platforms essentially are built on Microsoft, Azure and so Azure and all the different parts of our Microsoft offerings provide that platform for customers to use and leverage to deliver these solutions. So bringing it to the customer, like when will it become real for them, you know, buying cars in the metaverse, how does that become accessible and what will that experience? Great question, great question. So we're starting to see deployment. Sophia is one of our first customers doing this along with touch gas, which is a company that we partner with to do this. But honestly, globally like in China, China is already there, China is already there. So there are definitely places in the world in which this is actually happening and North America and it's going to be, you know, getting there. It's not as quite as fast as other countries and a lot of it has to do with dealership, buy in. Right. So any time you involve the dealer body in North America, you're dealing with independent franchise owners who have their own ideas of how we want to do things. So it's not as easy or seamless sometimes. So, are they going into a virtual VR generated showroom or they're going to a physical showroom and its augmented reality? I think that's the key, right? I mean, how do you, so these business people have invested millions of dollars in, in these places to walk away from that and make the whole experience, you know, not there, it just doesn't make any sense for them, right? So it has to be a hybrid model. Imagine yourself go to the dealership, let me give you a use case and instead of walking the lot to look at the different colors or having the sales person bring you the different vehicles and finding them and all that, imagine going to a showroom in which everything can be done virtually color scheming how the car looks, experience even the interior of it without the, I mean, you have to drive the car too. You can, some, some folks would like, like I got to drive the car. So, absolutely, you do that in a virtual Me, you can do it, you can do it. Although ultimately, you know, some folks want to see the real thing, right? So, ok. And do you think you see a world where cryptocurrencies will be used to purchase cars. You know, this is a very interesting topic because the whole notion of web three and its relevance to the metaphors is usually debated in terms of the intersection of web three, mixed reality X reality and the Merse platforms coming together to create this environment. So you know, we will see, OK, do you see a world where virtual car showrooms will replace the physical ones? It depends. So in North America, it would be hard for me to see that happening. I see a hybrid model in North America, I see faster deployment in countries like China because they are in a different path in terms of where they are in Europe, I would see also the same thing because space is limited in Europe and just one last question before we wrap but are there other, I mean we're talking about cars, are there other ways Microsoft is looking to enter crypto Blockchain, the metaverse three, I mean the whole interaction or embracing of Blockchain, you know, we see that in our industry like supply chain, supply chain Blockchain is providing quite a bit of transparency efficiency and introducing some of the supply chain challenges that we've had. So there are definitely the areas in which that could happen. So in terms of the future, you never say never. But certainly it is something to think about

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