4. Innovation depends on collaboration and cooperation between the organization, the supply chain, and the customer base.
As we were winding up our interview with Nate Ramanathan, Vice President of Operations for autonomous vehicle pioneer AEye, Nate made clear why we had trouble scheduling an interview with him. Last year alone, he flew over 289,000 miles!
Ramanathan, we discovered, is much more than the traditional operations executive. He’s chief orchestrator and evangelist of a vast network of engineers, suppliers, partners, and customers all collaborating to bring highly complex products to market. Except the market doesn’t yet exist and the future is still being defined.
AEye is one of 80 companies in the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) market, the du jour autonomous guidance system that detects objects and maps their distances. AEye’s breakthrough product is called iDAR.
Unlike the competition, it allows self-driving vehicles to see “only what matters.”
Impressive as the technology is, AEye’s other breakthrough is one its customers rarely get to see: the company’s innovative system of global orchestration that spreads AEye’s cultural values and sense of mission across platforms, across P&Ls, and across continents. As the leader of this complex set of actions, Ramanathan says it’s essential to build and reinforce trust. Trust is established with good communication, supported by a connective software platform. With that in place, AEye can integrate and anticipate ever-changing customer requirements.
As the autonomous vehicle industry evolves, some players are already dropping out. Others like AEye are moving forward and inventing the future—not just in terms of deliverable products, but in how they collaborate with multiple partners and interact with customer ecosystems. “We take customer feedback seriously,” Ramanathan told us. “We are learning every day.”