The Innovation Mindset
James Martin is a Product Strategy Manager at Cox Automotive. From his vantage point on the company’s New Product Innovation team, James can see the scope of Cox’s innovation in the fast-moving world of automotive and beyond.
Curiosity is key to innovation. And it’s something James Martin has in spades.
As part of Cox Automotive’s New Product Innovation team, he’s at the forefront of discovering new technologies to bolster Cox’s diverse portfolio of products and provide best-in-class offerings to clients.
Always listening and learning, James has witnessed – and helped spur – a massive transformation in the automotive industry during his three years at Cox. From mobility offerings like car subscription platforms and mobile fleet vehicle care to digital retailing solutions designed to keep dealerships ahead of the curve, the teams at Cox Automotive haven’t just been benefiting from innovation – they’ve been driving it.
Being involved with these exciting initiatives requires something James calls “the innovation mindset.”
“We’re always eager to learn,” James said. “Having an innovation mindset means being agile, being a student of the market and the world.”
What does working in New Product Innovation entail?
“Essentially, my job is all about canvassing the market for opportunities that will lead to new products and new revenue growth,” James said. “We’re on the cutting edge, working with a lot of startup communities and big tech consortiums. We keep our ear very close to the ground to find out what innovation is on the horizon, and how that technology might apply to the diverse businesses we’re in. Time and time again, this has translated into new products for both Cox Automotive and Cox Communications as well as investment opportunities for Cox Enterprises.”
The underbelly of technology
James arrived at Cox by way of his MBA program at Georgia Tech. The idea of working at a private, people-first company appealed to him, as did Cox’s focus on charting new paths in automation.
“With the world becoming more digital and automated, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a role that would allow me to blend strategy with emerging tech and AI work,” he said. “Working on this team gives you a unique perspective because you’re able to look at a wide range of things, from investing in companies to acquiring companies to proving out the maturity of technologies.”
One of his pet projects right now is an undercarriage device that has both safety and monetary benefits. The device captures high-quality still image frames of a vehicle’s undercarriage. By simply driving the car over the device, it stitches these frames together to create a full CAD (computer aided design) model for inspection – eliminating the need for technicians to crawl under the car to check for damage.
“We want auto techs and end consumers to be as safe as possible.” The risk of occupational injury among technicians has historically been very high. This device provided a wealth of insights and imagery, so technicians can have detailed without physically getting under the car and drive can have peace of mind.”
“Waves of evolution”
Though James’ job is future-focused, he hasn’t lost sight of Cox’s legacy of innovation.
“If you look at the history of Cox, from Governor Cox to now, you see these waves of evolution that expand our business into many different areas, from automotive to healthcare to sustainability and more,” he said. “We don’t just play in one field. Cox is very involved with the technology scene here in Atlanta and worldwide.”
But innovation isn’t limited to technology – social progress is necessary too. James said that he appreciates Cox’s ongoing work in addressing injustice, remarking on the Cox Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars. The 2021 class was made up of 10 start-ups addressing social justice issues and systemic racism.
“Diversity breeds better thinking and better perspectives. I appreciate that the Cox family leads by example, and that they stand behind the things they say when they talk about bettering their communities, caring for employees and working to build a better future for the next generation.”
Curious to read more stories about Cox’s innovation impact? Click here.