It appears that one of the most iconic pieces of hardware (the automobile) is finally getting an upgrade. Just as typewriters and wired telephones were transformed into computers and smartphones, the automobile is rapidly undergoing a transformation of its own. While computers and electronics have been part of the automobile since the late 70’s, the focus had been primarily on engine and drivetrain management.
Well, the times are certainly changing. According to IHS, as much as 25% of the cost of producing a car is now attributed to software. Where is all of this software going? Think information and entertainment systems, autonomous driving and communication with your smart watch, smart house and the coming “internet of everything”.
To quote Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Santa Clara based chip maker Nvidia “What happened with the mobile industry with the smartphone is about to happen with the car.” Automakers and technology firms are now converging on the automobile at breakneck speed. Ford and Mercedes-Benz have recently set up shop in Silicon Valley, joining GM, Toyota, Bosch and many others. Conversely, tech giants Google and Apple are making vast inroads into the automotive industry, bringing along their vast UI/UX expertise.
What’s driving the technological transformation of the automobile? The same factor that has been behind all landmark shifts in consumer products, a consumer that expects (demands?) an ever increasingly positive user experience. Quoting Marc Weiser, Founder and Managing Director of RPM Ventures, “expect to see mobile-enabled services that allow a consumer to move from the dealership to their driveway. Push button apps will send a driver to pick up your car for service, to get a price on a trade in, or deliver your new car to wherever you are. These apps will include mobile payments, features to check your license and insurance, and tools for managing the loaner car you’ll be driving”.
What does this mean for the automotive industry as a whole? As more technology is incorporated into the automobile, many manufacturers, dealer solution providers and the dealers themselves will need to dramatically upgrade their data and technology infrastructure. With many OEM and DSP companies still hampered by poor or patchwork integration of their existing systems, an obvious need exists to accelerate and expand retail integration. Fortunately, industry standardized integration solutions such as Motive Retail’s SaaS (Motive Integrator) are streamlining this process and allowing the OEM, DSP, and dealer to focus more resources on improving the customer experience and meet the ever increasing demand for automation at all levels within the industry.