Don’t look too far up the autonomous road because connected car opportunities are nearly here, Airbiquity’s Scott Frank told Paul Myles. [Tele.Myles.2016.08.08]

While some in the auto industry have their heads-in-the-clouds of autonomous transport solutions, many more are getting to grips with the essential technology needed to make the dream a reality.

Yet, even these, realise there’s a very long road trip towards the fully driverless car and are much more excited about the disruptive technology that is on the cusp of breaking into the consumers’ cars in the near future.

People like Scott Frank vice-president of marketing with the connected car data specialist, Airbiquity who sees a raft of driver-centric services on offer just around the next technological bend. These services will be able to offer consumer’s levels of tailor-made solutions never seen before benefiting both vendor and customer alike.

Frank said: “We have seen the widespread introduction of infotainment in cars and we’ve seen how the smartphone interacts with the car’s technology. If you’re like me, you probably have up to 70 apps on your phone but a very small amount of these are applicable to driving and owning an automobile.

“So where we are moving now is to leveraging connectivity to get data off the car, such as operational data or how the vehicle is being driven and the condition of the vehicle, and bringing that up into the Cloud. There we can analyse that data using predictive analytics and blend it with other known data of the driver as an individual and then bringing that down to the car as services that are very customised to owning and driving that car.”

He foresees a time when a dashboard warning light will only be the start of a driver-centric service that could engage several suppliers along the value chain.

“For example,” explained Frank. “A first-wave application may be that instead of the car’s dashboard light telling you that one of the tyres is deflating, the car could provide a service and say, ‘Hey, not only is you’re tyre deflating but you have about 20 minutes before it reaches a critical state and sustains damage’. It could then give you some repair options all within a safe radius and one or more of them will be able to offer you a discount if they know you’re on the way. This kind of service can knit together all the pieces of the ecosystem where it’s a meaningful service instead of the car just telling you there is a problem.”

And these services are likely in the very near future with Frank saying: “These are starting to emerge already in some of the branded apps that carmakers are using to promote their connected car options. These will just get more sophisticated and the automakers and their suppliers get more sophisticated about their data collection abilities to offer more services to the consumer but that will take time.”

CRM on steroids

Frank said carmakers will increasingly have to branch away from focusing on traditional manufacturing and spend more of their efforts on their digital offerings.

He said: “What I have seen on the few years I’ve been in the industry is just the amount of growth the automakers have been challenged with to keep up and take advantage of new technology in areas outside the more traditional parts of the auto industry. It’s gone beyond just getting the basic connectivity going because the next turn-of-the-crank is going to be more complex and it’s going to impact on the IT organisations in the carmakers because we have issues about data and privacy, we have a standing ecosystem, we have decisions about whether they build-or-buy, insource or outsource, how far to go with the technology and how fast. It’s so much more than just build a car and shift it into the retail channel and let the dealer take over now there’s this amazing opportunity of ‘wow, we can engage the customer post purchase and we can use this like CRM on steroids’. However, you have to be able to develop the strategies making the best of the technologies and get the vendors to really light up these systems to make them really meaningful.

“Some automakers are going at this really hard and considering the continued evolution of ADAS and the investments they need to make in whole new transportation models, things like driving-centric services and data management and all of this on the road to autonomous.”

Consumer data is an area that also offers carmakers and service providers big opportunities for those who get the process of opting-in to the services right, said Frank.

“I think you are increasingly going to see people saying ‘that data belongs to the consumer’ because it’s about how you are using the product you bought and so you will need to facilitate consumer opt-in for those services that use this data. If this data is made available to third parties, consumers will ask ‘if I do that what advantage comes back to me?’ We see this already in the UBI space and if the insurer wants to share that information with, say, McDonalds, the consumer will say ‘OK but I want to be seen as a preferred customer and get discounts’. The question the industry has to ask is ‘how do you get a consumer to opt-in?’ We believe this will be a message on your dash that will ask you if you’re happy to share this information for a particular benefit for people to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This will need a whole system behind it in the Cloud to capture that consent or non-consent and physically impact the data collection and distribution between the vehicle and the Cloud.”

Connected Car Insurance USA 2016

07 Sep 2016 - 08 Sep 2016, Chicago, USA

The Connected Car Insurance USA Conference & Exhibition is the largest and most informative forum for executives from across the connected car and motor insurance industries.