Strategy & Best Practices

The Future of Car Ownership

By Elliot Tucker / October 5, 2016

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Autonomous vehicles are on the brink of dominating the roads. This is what you may think, judging by the latest headlines. Just days ago, Microsoft and Nissan announced a partnership to develop PC-like driverless cars, joining the likes of Ford, who recently revealed their plans for fully autonomous commercial vehicles for 2021. With Google, Tesla, GM, Audi, Uber, Lyft, and many others vying to remove the driver from the car, it may seem like it will be a reality in only a short matter of time. However, expectations of driverless roadways is more likely placed decades out. Although the technology will be available, socio-economic conditions pose significant roadblocks. Strict regulations, the dominance of traditional combustion engines, regional challenges, new infrastructure requirements, and the inertia of vehicle buying cycles are all factors in pushing out the impending disruption that the autonomous car will have.

Beyond drivers, ownership models for vehicles will inevitably change. While we wait for a future of smoother traffic and newly freed up commute times, at least one new generation of vehicle owners will experience the advantages of connected vehicles that connect to the broader internet of things (IoT). The experiences, services, and business models that will be iterated on in this era of connected cars will shape the future of the autonomous experience. In that sense, it is useful to think of connected vehicles as incubators for the driverless road ahead.

Running parallel to connected vehicles, are connected homes and buildings, which have their own IoT applications. According to IoT Analytics, the smart home is the top application of IoT and garners 5 times more interest than a connected car. Connecting the car and home offers tremendous potential value for consumers for many use cases. Delivery vehicles could be making safe shipments to homes, similar to a concept that Amazon is working on. Electric Vehicles (EVs) could tap into home charging stations managed by a smart grid. However promising, much the merging of the two has thus far been slow. Many home automation services offer APIs and “works with” programs, but the same is not true for most automotive manufacturers. Connections through services like IFTTT and Zapier are helping to close some gaps, but are still far from mainstream and simple enough for the vast majority of users. Because of this, the onus is on vehicle OEMs to drive automotive IoT initiatives and embrace collaborations.

So, how will the automotive manufacturers get there? The foundation is a flexible system that can:

1) Orchestrate app and services

Orchestration is a loaded word, but is crucial to delivering a thoughtfully designed experience. Everything from billing, licenses, business rules, provisioning, notifications, and more need to come together to ensure that the right products and services get to the right people, at the right time, in the right business model. A robust connected car platform will include all of these features.

2) Manage users

Managing identities, access management, permissions, roles, and authentication across multiple systems is necessary to ensure consistency and seamlessness across an ecosystem.

3) Handle software lifecycles

Whether it’s upgrades on SaaS features or OTA updates on installed applications, users will be unforgiving for complex maintenance. Software asset management is key to giving users a seamless experience

4) Offer extensibility for partnering devices and services

Building both an open business model and developer resources that encourage a partner ecosystem will drive exponential value that no one manufacturer could assemble alone. App marketplaces or custom app stores will power these relationships and open the doors to future IoT monetization.

5) Remain platform agnostic

Because there is so much fragmentation across devices and platforms, API addressability will be key to ensuring a system that can work anywhere and with anything.

Autonomous cars are on the horizon. In reality, we have an new era of connected services to tide us over. The future of car ownership remains bright, but not just because of the driving experience. By creating new conveniences and new value with a broader ecosystem of devices, the connected car becomes an invaluable part of everyday living.

~ Colin Chong, Head of Product, AppDevices AppDevices is a division of AppDirect, AppDevices, a division of AppDirect, provides app management, monetization and cloud service solutions for IoT, connected vehicles and smart devices.