The automotive industry just had a head-on collision — with technology.
That’s what Marques McCammon, GM for connected vehicle solutions at Wind River, thinks anyway. He explained that the automotive industry is the one place where the concepts of IoT can be made very real to the mass market — where they will be able to see it, understand it and really feel its impact.
A Connectivity Perspective
With the onset of the IoT and a greater focus on innovation, it’s clear the automotive industry is quickly moving toward the opportunity for greater efficiency, McCammon said.
Even in the past five years alone, the rate of tech adoption has accelerated and continues to move forward every year. Automakers are staffing software teams, are establishing development of advanced workforces in Silicon Valley and are actively involved in venture funding and mergers-and-acquisitions activity.
“Now, they are investing in algorithm companies, math scientists, analytics and things that we would typically only have associated with leading tech companies,” McCammon pointed out.
“The biggest shift to me is the internal focus at the automakers,” he added. “One of the big wake-ups for me was to see Ford stand on the stage at the Detroit Auto Show about a year ago and announce that it will become a mobility company, which is a complete pivot of the philosophy of business that this 130-year-old stalwart of automotive has been from its inception.”
From the perspective of many consumers, the way value is assigned to the vehicles for which they shop is also transforming.
According to McCammon, as much as 60 percent of a car’s value is defined by software-related features. Software is now defining the feature content and new experiences for consumers, and it’s also redefining the definition of quality and acceptability for the vehicle at the same time.
While safety and reliability are just as important to consumers as they’ve always been, shopping for a vehicle today also requires consideration of how much it can actually make the lives of consumers easier.
A growing number of customers have more digitally focused expectations when it comes to vehicles. These include whether internet access will be readily available in the car at all times, if voice-recognition software is in place and whether the vehicle has the ability to tether to a mobile device in order to access data either inside or outside the car.
“All of this is brand new, and it’s coming at an alarming speed,” McCammon noted.
The Innovation Roadmap
McCammon shared the three biggest trends he believes will take place within the automotive industry with respect to IoT: the introduction of marketing or advertising dollars into the vehicle purchase experience, the expansion of security and the increasing criticality of software.
Today, he explained, the automotive experience is defined by the automakers’ interaction with the consumer, and based on that relationship, the forging and maintaining of that relationship defines the auto business itself.
But as the world becomes a place where software can enable connected and autonomous vehicles, McCammon believes that the automotive experience will shift.
Imagine a taxi showing up at a person’s front door with no driver, or when a consumer goes to get into their own vehicle, they have the freedom to be completely distracted for the duration of the drive.
This gives way to the opportunity for advertising to show up on the inside of the windshield or even for a person’s shopping profile on their mobile device to connect with a car’s navigation and give points of interest based on their buying behavior.
McCammon said he expects retailers will pay big ad dollars to be a part of that experience, which could eventually even offset the cost of vehicle ownership completely.
But as the growth of IoT has shown, as devices and products get more connected, the threat of cybercrime drastically increases.
The idea of a car being hacked and someone remotely taking control of it is a terrifying thought, one that becomes even more dire when considering the possibility that, one day, there could be fleets of vehicles that are either semi- or fully automated in their driving functions and control systems, which are powered by IoT connectivity.
“That presents a very real threat, both to market adoption of the technology and also to the individuals in the car,” McCammon stated.
As a result, he said, there will be a significant increase in the focus on cybersecurity in the years ahead, both from regulatory and policy standpoints, as well as from technology and innovation standpoints. He also expects that the industry will see the birth of more cybersecurity-focused automotive companies.
McCammon also believes the future will bring more alignment between the industry and companies like Wind River, which specializes in enabling innovation through the delivery of product and services across the global automotive landscape.
The Space For Payments
Today, transactions can be enabled over voice command from inside of a vehicle by bringing a consumer’s mobile device into the car and projecting that device’s functionality into the vehicle itself.
Though it’s a capability that’s very new, it also represents the opportunity ahead for how payments can fit into the ever-evolving connected vehicle.
But McCammon made it clear that cybersecurity and the safeguarding of data must be a process that is integrated into the development and design of a vehicle from conception.
“As we look forward into how IoT converges with the automotive industry, a predefined and well-managed process for security is something that will likely develop into a set of standards, if not a set of regulations, for the industry,” he explained.
“You can’t make software impenetrable into perpetuity. It must always be evolving to address the threats.”