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7 Things To Consider When Building A Connected Car Ecosystem

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1.     Why now?

Digitalisation changes everything and also the automotive industries have entered the era of digital transformation. Besides the obvious impact, i.e. the need to serve the mobile-first customers who demand more digital applications and automatic services, the digitalisation has also the ability to change the dynamics of the industry. Enabled by the new technologies and service digitalisation, for example,

  • Major businesses from other industry verticals, e.g. retail banks, are seeking to create new revenue opportunities by expanding their services into the vehicle finance and fleet management space

  • Vehicle manufacturers are seeking to increase their customer mindshare and share of the wallet by continuosly expanding their finance and fleet management offerings. They have also publicly announced plans to move to direct-to-customer sales over the online channels.

  • To support their overall strategy the vehicle manufacturers are starting to building their own ecosystems. Like in the other manufacturer ecosystems (e.g. Apple), the vehicle manufacturers are also planning to tightly control the access to the customer data and services

  • Increasing number of customers make their automotive purchase decisions without ever visiting the showroom. As a result the businesses need to find new ways for establishing an ongoing relationship with their customers.

  • Traditionally transaction-priced services, such as vehicle maintenance, are going through servicification and are offered also with 'fixed monthly' -price alternatives. These new service models require new ways of managing costs and financials risks.  

  • To defend their position against the new industry entrants and to secure their relevance also in the future value-chains, the automotive businesses need to leverage their existing customer relations and start building their connected car ecosystems now.

2.     How do I get other businesses involved?

To attract an ecosystem around your offering you need to provide clear business benefits to your business partners and simplify their digital transformation. This means that, instead of just sharing the raw data and the same applications, you should provide your partners business specific and ready-made applications with a low threshold for adoption. Your business partners should be able to brand (or co-brand) your applications so that the adoption of your ecosystem also improves their customer loyalty, strengthens their brand and builds a stronger market position. This is also beneficial for you as gaining more visibility for your brand amongst your partners’ customers builds a larger and stronger ecosystem (e.g. “Intel Inside”).  Enabling your partners with ready-made applications is particularly effective if your business partner’s industry is heavily fragmented and the applications and capabilities are not typically affordable to the individual businesses. Taking advantage of this, for example, the fleet management companies, maintenance franchisors, or parts suppliers can create a strong ecosystem around their business by enabling the individual maintenance shops to digitalise their operations.

3.     Data privacy is a two-way street

To ensure that information privacy is maintained in the connected car services, the use of data must be strictly controlled, from both the businesses’ and the drivers’ points of view. In an ecosystem environment this means, for example, that

  • Each ecosystem participant has visibility only to the vehicles relevant to them
    E.g. a fleet management company can view all their customers’ vehicles, a maintenance workshop sees only their own customers, a corporate fleet manager can view only the business’ vehicles, and the vehicle driver sees only his own data.
  • Businesses and individuals can access only the information relevant to the service
    E.g. a fleet management company has view of all vehicle data, maintenance business can access only the maintenance related info (error codes, service times, usage, etc. without detailed location except in roadside assistance cases), PAYD / PHYD insurance provider sees only data required for the risk assessment (e.g. road-class, driving style, distance, and time of the trips without detailed location data)..

4.     Ecosystem needs to scale – in particular in the beginning

Ecosystems do not happen overnight and, to ensure a short-term return-on-investment, the ecosystem model needs to scale not only technically but also financially. In practice this means a Software-as-a-Service delivery model, vehicle and feature/application based costing/pricing, and use of ready-made and customisable white-label applications.    

5.     Ecosystem data must be reliable

As the connected car ecosystem grows and more businesses rely on the data in their daily business operations, the importance of solution reliability and availability also increases. In addition to the negative user experience and loss of financial benefits, the reliability issues can cause a significant increase in the ecosystem operation costs, e.g. in the form of device replacements, installation issues, and corrective actions. To avoid these costs the connected car implementation should be planned with sufficient reliability in mind, from high-reliability in-vehicle devices to redundant tier-3 data center based service hosting.

6.     Business important data must be secure

While vehicle telematics data needs to be always secure, when multiple business are involved the security requirements are further emphasised. As a result, in addition to just encrypting the communications between the devices and the cloud services, all data-at-rest (i.e. stored) should be encrypted, access to the systems controlled with at least Tier-3 compliant methodology, suspicious activities automatically monitored, and periodic user access reviews performed on all user accounts.

7.     Applications need to be flexible and grow with your ecosystem

One size does not fit all, especially not tomorrow. As the size and value of your ecosystem increases so does the breadth of opportunities – and requirements. To ensure that you can target all business opportunities, evolve your ecosystem with the changing environment, and avoid heavy-lifting upgrades, your connected car platform should be based on open interfaces. These features include, for example, a well-defined web-services access to all connected car data, SDK programmable in-vehicle devices, OTA device upgradeability, and even ability to customise HW-designs to suit your needs.  

 

Developed together with large and small fleet operators, fleet management companies, maintenance businesses, insurers, government agencies, and private car users, the Helpten Connected Car platform has been designed ground-up as a multi-service connected car platform. It is an open-interface platform and has been implemented with the most stringent data security, reliability and privacy requirements in mind, including well thought-through processes and agreements for the data sharing between applications and business partners.

Contact us for more information on how you can start building your connected car ecosystem with the Helpten Platform.

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