Can the connected car keep up with its driver?
For a connected vehicle to address driver needs effectively, it must be a seamless extension of its driver, which is vitally important to a portion of the population known today as “digital natives.” Automakers must leverage cutting-edge technology to provide the kind of intuitive and immersive driving experiences that these customers have come to expect, or rather demand, from their vehicles.
As Dinesh Paliwal, HARMAN’s President and CEO recently said, “It wasn’t too long ago that a vehicle’s value was measured by its mechanical performance and driving dynamics. With the emerging popularity of shared mobility and in-vehicle technology, however, value is now being measured by Experiences per Mile.” The question remains, can the OEM stay a step ahead of the customer expectations of the digital native? Here are some guidelines to lay the foundation for automotive experiences of the future.
Know your customer
The term “digital native” refers to an individual who has grown up acclimatized to the widespread adoption of digital technology, such as the internet, mobile devices and 24/7 connectivity. Millennials, who will account for nearly half of new auto sales by 2020, and Generation Z, some of which aren’t even drivers yet but are nevertheless major purchase influencers, firmly fall within the digital-native category. They refuse to compromise on seamless connectivity services and are willing to pay to obtain them.
Research by Deloitte affirms that drivers want their cars to act as peripherals to their smartphones so that they can remain connected and productive while on the move. It further cautions OEMs that “cars will have to interface with other tools to keep pace with (and leverage) the fast-moving consumer electronics industry.”
“It wasn’t too long ago that a vehicle’s value was measured by its mechanical performance and driving dynamics. With the emerging popularity of shared mobility and in-vehicle technology, however, value is now being measured by Experiences per Mile.”
Dinesh Paliwal, President and CEO, HARMAN
To meet and exceed your digital-native customer expectations, it is imperative to understand their requirements. This specific customer profile demands the following of his/her vehicle:
- “My vehicle must connect with my digital world..."
The truly connected vehicle not only simplifies and streamlines customer interactions with his/her ecosystem of smart devices but advances further and improves customers' digital lifestyles. For example, the interface should extend beyond basic smartphone connectivity, such as responding to voice messages and email, to being able to listen to subscribed podcasts, having tweets read aloud, obtaining movie reviews/ratings along with directions to the theater, and more.
- “...while intuitively responding to my requirements…”
“Data is the new oil” is a well-founded saying nowadays. Personalization “rules,” and with the pervasiveness of big data, IoT and AI, customers have come to expect their devices (car included) to not only “know” them, but also interact with them intelligently. For instance, simply stating "I'm hungry!" to an in-vehicle virtual personal assistant should initiate a process to search, review, recommend and navigate to a restaurant of choice.
- “...without me having to intervene or configure. It should work seamlessly and intelligently.”
The customer expects the entire spectrum of connected personalization to work without the hassles of intervention. And then some. For example, while remote software updates and a single driver profile across devices will help to keep the connectivity seamless, proactive insights into vehicle health, collision warnings and road-hazard alerts will smarten the automotive experience.
Map solutions to customer needs
Once you understand digital natives’ expectations, the next stage involves sourcing smart solutions based on their needs. This is carefully done by reviewing best-of-breed features available in the car and in other electronic devices today – and studying future needs through regular research studies. The market changes very quickly, so constant evaluation of changing consumer trends is necessary. Once you understand the needs, it is important to be able to update the product periodically throughout the ownership experience. Having a platform in the vehicle that allows easy updating with new software services is vitally important. HARMAN OTA is a market leader, delivered to OEM customers worldwide. It allows automakers to update vehicle software and address customer needs quickly and efficiently.