A hunk of stylish metal and rubber may not look like a fertile ecosystem teeming with data, but it is. Your automobile is filled with sophisticated electronics and even more worldly software that knows where you are, what you’re seeing, how you’re driving and what your car is up to. All of that data can be tapped, packaged and monetized.
This isn’t a futuristic vision. The navigation app Waze invites drivers to select favored brands (Starbucks, perhaps?) so marketers can push location-based promotions to them. But this data isn’t always used to sell you something. It can also save your life. General Motors’ OnStar service summons help when your airbag deploys.
Data is neither good or bad. But it can be used in good or bad ways. But before that can happen, automakers must figure out how to best collect it, organize it and sell it. Doing that requires something new. It requires an automobile to think like a digital company.
The Data Cometh
The challenge here isn’t technological. A savvy carmaker can glean whether it’s raining (Are the windshield wipers wiping?) or snowing (Is "snow mode" engaged?). It can know if the oil pressure has plummeted or if a software glitch is keeping you from listening to your favorite podcast—and if that glitch is happening across all its cars, enough to warrant an update or even a recall. If a driver has linked her phone to her car, the car knows her music preferences, where she usually drives at any given time—maybe, even, if she’s searched for cough medicine and Kleenex a moment ago, if she has a cold.
The challenge is managing this data—bringing it all together in a cohesive manner and figuring out what to do with it. Very often today, car manufacturers gather tons of car data that end up in different corners of the organization. Most of the automakers, suppliers and others that the Mojio team talked to lacked a coherent approach to dealing with this valuable asset. They’ll figure it out, quickly, because there is simply too much money to be made. But it may require automakers to make partnerships with companies far more adept at dealing with data. Automobile manufacturers are already reaching out to tech companies for help with autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing.
Convincing Drivers to Give Up the Goods
Automakers also must reckon with the same privacy issues facing many other data companies. Of the manufacturers Mojio surveyed, 83 percent are “pretty worried” or “very worried” about the security of all that data, but only 47 percent consider themselves well prepared to keep that data safe. Heck—just 41 percent of them have a dedicated cybersecurity unit. This is troubling, given that the good hackers who find vulnerabilities and report them to companies so they might be patched have taken control of BMWs and Teslas. Who knows what the malicious hackers can do.
Assuming automakers prove more adept at securing data than, say, Yahoo or Dropbox or the Democratic National Convention, they exist in a market where consumers—and especially young drivers—are growing more comfortable with data sharing, especially if they get something for it. A 2016 survey by the USC Annenberg School for Communication found 51 percent of US millennials are happy to trade data for “something in return,” compared to 41 percent of those 35 and older. Surveys conducted by Mojio find that nearly three-quarters of drivers in Germany, the USA, and China are willing to share their data and pay for a service if it makes it easier to park the darn car. More and more people have no problem seeing their data used to sell them stuff. Mostly functional digital companies like Facebook and Google have primed them for this. It is inevitable that it would happen in your car as well.
Here is a small sampling of all the things your car might try to sell you in the not-so-distant future:
• Perfectly timed maintenance. Like a puking child, your car will let you know when a check-up is in order.
• Tesla-like over-the-air software updates.
• Targeted driving tips: Easy on the brake there!
• That beautiful handbag you forgot you wanted—and directions to the store where you can buy it.
• Individualized security tips. There’s been an uptick in break-ins in your neighborhood in the last couple weeks, Dave. Would you like to adjust your insurance coverage?
• An in-car, social-powered VR game. Because who doesn’t want to beat their friends on the number of speed limits obeyed?
According to the management gurus at Mojio, the strange new world of automotive data is about to stream your ride information to smartphones, smart infrastructure and even other smart cars. Moj.io says this new pool of smart mobility will be worth as much as $750 billion by 2030. Learn more at Moj.io.