Internet of Things

Car Commerce And Intel’s ‘Secret Sauce’

Moving IoT to the mainstream boils down to one thing: “integrating services with technology,” says Prakash Kartha, Market Development for Transportation Solutions Division at Intel.

“That’s the secret sauce,” he adds.

Well, that and getting consumers to adopt.

The integration of services with technology in the car is one area where Intel thinks that there is a real path to the future – but not in a “George Jetson flying car” kind of way. Embedding services into what Kartha describes as the “cockpit” makes the car just another platform for the delivery of services in context: information, directions and even commerce.

The goal, Kartha says, is to turn the car into a platform that can provide as much – or even more –utility than an app on a phone.

He cites some of what Visa is doing to not just enable users to pay for gas, tolls and parking, but to enable a leasing or purchase transactions.

And that’s just the start.

Intel’s Car Commerce Push

“Beyond the car, the evolution we are going to see is how a number of different technologies come together to enable automated driving,” Kartha told Karen Webster.

But that, he says, is in the off-into-the-distance future. Both Kartha and Webster agree that it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine getting into a driverless car and careening down 101S between San Fran and San Jose and feeling completely at ease.

But there are lots of value-added stutter steps in between that rely on sensors within and outside the car, cameras, GPS and other technologies that solve problems for drivers behind the wheel.

“GM’s OnStar was probably the first instance that any driver had of having interaction with their car,” Kartha said. “Consumers of the [subscription] service had the ability to ask for help and a variety of other services. Satellite radio and in-car navigation is another.”

But, as Webster suggests, a lot of these functions have been replaced by the smartphone and apps – music can be streamed, cheap gas can be sourced by a variety of apps, the closest fast food place can be found via Google Maps, as can directions. Waze provides better navigation than any factory-installed version. So how does the auto manufacture compete?

Kartha said, for starters, it begins with making it easier for solutions to universally translate across more automobiles and more devices.

“The interesting thing and the transition we are seeing is that the No. 1 thing we are seeing is that the technology of the car will soon have a lot more seamless integration of services with the car systems itself.”

What Kartha means by that, he said, is things like integrating the parking app experience into the driving experience so that consumers get an Uber-like experience when it comes to matching a driver with the need to park with the ability to find an open space and pay for it – no phone needed.

But the problem, at least right now, is a bit of the chicken and the egg, Webster suggests. Great if you are buying a new car, but what about the person who just bought one a few years ago and still wants the cool integrated experience?

“We are seeing a really solid ecosystem around app telematic solutions. The market is growing,” Kartha insists.

And the market is ripe for growth, he said, because the adoption lag has more to do with the fact that it’s still only a small number of tech companies bringing these connected commerce solutions to market.

What’s Needed Next?

For now, it is very much about cracking the chicken and the egg — getting companies with solutions on board, getting car makers on board, but more importantly getting consumers on board.

“It’s not a technology problem. The technology exists. You have to create a market for this. You have to create the need for the consumer to want it – and of course they only will if they get a differentiated experience, “Kartha said.  “My belief is that mobile-based commerce gets more popular, I think we will get a kind of halo effect around general IoT. It’s a short leap to where consumers think that it’s just as natural to transact via machines instead of only from their phones.”

The Value-Add

After all, beyond convenience, the real value-add comes down to security.

One of the more exciting developments that Kartha described is the ability for services and technology to intersect to create a “halo of protection around the driver,” driven by alerting drivers to things that keep them safe — vehicle malfunctions, recalls, inspections, for example — and help them save money — metering that more precisely calculates insurance rates based on driving patterns, for example.

“If you cannot establish trust in a platform, and those services cannot be delivered, the customers will not use them,” Kartha says.

Still, when it comes to closing the loop and fully integrating the commerce and payments experience into cars, Kartha tells Webster, there’s a long road ahead.

“How [mobile payments] translates into IoT and how that translates into automotive is still in the very early days,” Kartha said.

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