What do you get when you mix telematics and digital design? In this series, I make the case that it gets you nothing short of extraordinary customer experiences and competitive differentiation.

Buckle up. The transmission and interchange of data, voice, and other information from a moving vehicle through a Cloud-based telecommunications network is revolutionizing the way we drive. Connected cars, or telematics, promise a safer, more pleasant, even more productive experience for drivers.

But telematics won’t just help drivers make better decisions, calculate routes, adjust vehicle speed, and reduce fuel costs. Things get far more interesting at the intersection of telematics and digital design.  They get to inject the human element and create far better experiences.

Why is that important? Superior experiences strengthen long-term ties for brands. They allow for a valuable longer-term interaction with customers that converts one-time product sales into service relationships. That offers avenues to greater profitability and competitive advantage for manufacturers, OEMs, and other stakeholders in the massive global automotive industry.

The World Around the Corner

Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat, trapped in traffic on the long trip home. A newsflash on the in-dash display: an accident blocking all lanes is five miles ahead. You’ve tried all the alternative routes: you know you’re pretty much stuck.

No matter: Your vehicle’s concierge app asks if you’d like a dinner break while traffic clears. Automatically, with a voice prompt from you, it opens an application programming interface to a restaurant app to find a nearby, highly rated spot that features what it knows is your favorite cuisine—Italian. Another app books you a table—so you get the points. Then the on-board concierge reroutes your GPS, and sends a text message to your spouse to say you’ll be late.

When you arrive home later that evening, you haven’t lost much time, and you’re not frazzled and hungry. Better yet, your spouse didn’t waste valuable time preparing dinner. Telematics isn’t just a convenience. It improves quality of life.

Another scenario: There’s an anomaly in your car’s idling revs: it’s either a quick electronic adjustment or time to replace a belt. It could leave you stranded if it’s not addressed. But telematics-enabled predictive diagnostics trigger a nearby roadside assistance center to dispatch a service vehicle that already has the specific tool to make the adjustment, and the belt for your model of vehicle. The problem is addressed before the belt has a chance to fail. Best of all? It’s covered under the warranty.

Digital Dynamics: Information Drives Value 

The machine-to-machine communication that enables this convenience and safety involves collection of data from plentiful sources. Through telematics, a vehicle can convey data about itself, such as critical component status, speed, mileage, and fuel economy. It can report about an individual driver’s preferences and patterns, including fuel, service, and insurance costs, travel time, and even social media profiles. It can capture driver data from smart phones and wearables. Add the geo-spatial data from the operating environment like weather, road conditions, route, grade of the road, and altitude.

Together, all these data points form a robust foundation that companies can use for sophisticated data modeling, to develop meaningful and predictive insights not only about how individuals drive, but also how the vehicle, and its components, are performing.

For car makers, this presents massive opportunity to monetize telematics data across the customer life cycle. Telematics-enabled vehicles with robust features can command an initial pricing premium from digitally-savvy buyers, create opportunities for ongoing revenue streams through personalized subscription service offerings, and offer a superior driving experience that builds brand loyalty for future purchases.

 real-time dataTelematics also helps manufacturers contain costs: With product development cycle times traditionally at two years or more, car makers and original equipment manufacturers with access to real-time data on performance of thousands of parts for millions of vehicles are drastically shortening design timeframes and improving efficiency. And they’re eliminating costly simulation tests through new access to actual usage data.

Telematics data also helps manufacturers understand what parts are failing and why, stemming a major industry issue—parts recalls. OEMs can be held accountable to real-time metrics. Instead of responding to statistical reports in retrospect, their parts are evaluated on a daily or hourly basis—even by the second, giving visibility into how they act under different conditions, and allowing manufacturers to enforce agreed-on specifications and performance levels.

For dealers, data about a car’s driving history can lead to more accurate pre-owned car valuations. Data about drivers can generate digital sales leads, and inform the creation of tailored offers to individual potential car buyers. And it can help stop revenue leakage, by prompting drivers to bring accessory and spare parts aftermarket service to dealers instead of to third-party vendors.

Intelligence. Autonomy. The Time Is Now.

Telematics technology will open the road to intelligent transportation, but how? Tune into my next part two blog, where I will explore how other industry leaders are using telematics to drive the future of operational and customer excellence.

Prasad Satyavolu

Prasad Satyavolu

Prasad Satyavolu is the Chief Digital Officer & Global Head of Innovation for the integrated business group, comprising the manufacturing, logistics, energy... Read more