Data is the Fuel for the Automotive Industry

Aug 31, 2015

As an avid auto enthusiast, I’m always amazed to see the innovations that the auto industry is bringing to the highways these days.   However, have you ever taken a step back for a moment to see what kinds of new things are coming to the market?  Auto makers have pretty much nailed how to make a car accelerate, corner and brake with confidence and their styling is leaps and bounds above what it used to be.   So, what do they seem to be focusing on more so these days?  

In this new age of big data and the internet of things, car manufacturers are starting to add more technology and data driven enhancements to their vehicles in order to differentiate them from others in the market.    Gone are the days where consumers were impressed when a car could announce to the driver “Your door is ajar.”   We’ve surpassed that now and expect that our cars tell us how to get where we need to go, play our favorite songs while getting there and let us Facebook our friends to tell them about the trip along the way. 

Is there a benefit from all of this new technology, other than the added convenience to the consumer?  Could it be that the data being collected by a vehicle can assist manufacturers in making the vehicle better while at the same time making the vehicle last longer?   My car tells me when it needs an oil change.  Sometimes I listen to it, other times we have a friendly conversation where I have to put it off for a couple of weeks due to my schedule.   But it knows that it needs an oil change.  It’s monitoring itself, adding to this notion of the Internet of things.  Some cars can email their owners to remind them of maintenance schedule.  And mechanics can ‘talk’ to the cars to figure out what’s wrong in the case of repairs being made.  While convenient for the consumer, this data also enables car companies to identify flaws, measure performance and perhaps indirectly provide cost savings in the manufacturing process.

So, we can see that the car ownership experience is being enhanced through the interaction of data and we can learn a lot about our vehicles by the data it stores.  I have also come to understand that we can learn a lot about the drivers and passengers as well.   On board GPS systems can tell us where they’ve been.  WIFI hotspots in vehicles can tell us what their interests are.  As you drive through a town, what might you or those with you be ‘Googling’?  Newer cars can act as a nanny and communicate your driving information back to your parents (without the droning voice of Fran Drescher).    Insurance companies can also gain access to this driving information assisting them in determining and modifying rates for specific drivers.

So, while you thought that car manufacturers were in the business of selling us transportation it would appear these days they are in the business of storing and supplying data.   It is important then for businesses to understand the potential of this data and conduct meaningful analysis on it.   Having the data is only half of the battle, understanding it is the ultimate goal.

Data is taking the front seat and driving the automotive industry. Perhaps your business should follow their lead and see how data can improve your customer experience while at the same time, helping your bottom line.