United States

Constant connectivity is key to auto industry success


There are two undisputed facts about Americans: 1. We are a nation on the go, and 2. We crave instant access to information. So it is no wonder that the No. 1 trend facing the automotive industry is connectivity. The need for connectivity in cars is dominated by a movement toward standard interfaces that are both wired and wireless: Interfaces that enable connectivity with smartphones, removable media devices and other portable products―as well as with automotive navigation systems―are in high demand.

In fact, the smartphone’s dominance has had such an overwhelming impact on the auto industry that in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity standards are now the norm, rather than the exception, in automobile production. In addition, consumers expect advanced electronics in their automobiles, with the infotainment system quickly becoming an important factor in helping consumers make new car purchasing decisions.

To meet these challenges, the major OEMs as well as Tier 1 and 2 suppliers must provide infotainment systems that include voice control and internet connectivity, advanced driver assistance systems, and remote monitoring and control. With this growing demand for car connectivity, automakers are partnering with service providers and technology companies to stay ahead of the evolving technological landscape. Instead of hearing about the usual carmaker mergers and partnerships, we are now hearing about technology-based alliances, such as the Samsung–Audi alliance, or the partnership forged between Intel and BWM, or Fiat Chrysler and Delphi Automotive. The goal of partnerships like this is to deliver information and entertainment to drivers and passengers simultaneously, and in a safe manner.

One challenge facing OEMs and all the main players in the auto industry is the incredible speed at which connectivity solutions are changing. The rapid rate of change in electronic trends has the potential to render infotainment options on cars obsolete within months of the car being launched. There are several options being investigated now to avoid this trend, with cloud-based services leading the way. A secondary solution is the modular approach, where components and software designs can be swapped out as more advanced technology becomes available.

As technology converges with the car, the Silicon Valley solutions serving the infotainment and telematics market are expected to multiply. This trend toward global networking and unlimited mobility is also reflected in the way communication users behave. Future services will be adapted to their respective environments and technology will be available through transparent, 24/7 access, regardless of location or device. This trend toward instant accessibility is forcing researchers to move closer to the seamless integration of multimedia services and social networks in the vehicle, allowing for a continuous entertainment experience.

Five years from now, winners in the auto industry will be those who develop a process for capitalizing on innovation from a wide range of sources. Leveraging innovation, research and development, and the right partnerships will be critical to their long-term success. It may take years to realize the results, but companies that bypass innovation today are quite simply handing over the future to their competition.

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Lawrence Keyler
Global Automotive Sector Leader