Automotive OTA Deployment Strategies

HARMAN is the longest standing provider of over-the-air (OTA) updates, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Together with IHS Markit, a global market research and forecasting consulting firm, we published a whitepaper about automotive OTA deployment strategies. Recently, Karen Piurkowski, host of the HARMAN Experiences Per Mile podcast, spoke to Mark Boyadjis, Global Technology Lead for Automotive Advisory Services at IHS Markit, on this subject.

Over-the-Air (OTA) Solutions

HARMAN OTA is the industry-leading solution for managing full-vehicle software & configuration and keeping it up-to-date.

HARMAN is the longest standing provider of over-the-air (OTA) updates, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Together with IHS Markit, a global market research and forecasting consulting firm, we published a whitepaper about automotive OTA deployment strategies. Recently, Karen Piurkowski, host of the HARMAN Experiences Per Mile podcast, spoke to Mark Boyadjis, Global Technology Lead for Automotive Advisory Services at IHS Markit, on this subject. This blog post summarizes the discussion, but if you’d like to listen to the episode in full, click here

IHS Markit expects more than 250 million vehicles to have OTA updates by 2025, whereas today, the industry is only at about 50 million. According to Mark, the challenges that we have in front of us as an industry comes down to three things: cost, timing and technologies as described below.

  • Cost
Consider supporting not only what the software is going to require but the supporting vehicle architecture inside as well as outside the vehicle. There are costs associated with making sure that you have the data transmission requirements needed in order to capture the data out of the car and then push more information to the vehicle.
 
  • Timing
If you're trying to bring a vehicle to market at a certain timeframe, your platform might not be ready by the time the vehicle needs to be launched, which could incur further costs, especially if you must delay the launch of the vehicle as a result.
 
  • Technologies
It’s vital that there is an understanding of how to integrate the Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that you want to have access to so that every part of the vehicle can have OTA updating capabilities. It's a challenge to build an architecture that way and there's different technologies that come into play both onboard and off-board that in many ways are new to the industry.

To combat these challenges, IHS Markit sees three strategies for OEMs to deploy OTA today: build, buy, or partner.

  • Build
If an OEM builds out its own OTA platform, the pros and cons can range from owning the IP and being as profitable in this area as the whole connected car architecture is. However, it's likely going to take a lot longer to bring it to market. There is a risk of having the market shift underneath you while you're trying to build a certain platform, which is going to take a lot of time. 
 
  • Partner
On the opposite side of the equation, taking a partner approach leads to the shortest time to market. You're going to have to understand how your partnership is going to work and if you're going to 1) drive a system based off a pure external party software, or 2) if you are going to partner to design a software that works well for both of you.
 
  • Buy
By buying an OTA solution, you are increasing the experience and market insights provided by a provider who consistently works to bring this type of service to the marketplace.  There is also the added benefit of obtaining new capabilities and features planned in the product roadmap through scheduled new releases. Customization for each OEM can create a challenge for the supplier of that software or those platforms and then of course, you will need to add in the cost of licensing the platform itself.

In Mark’s opinion, the perfect solution is to have a trusted advisor or some sort of partnership where OEMs, suppliers and software companies work together to try and have a shared vision of what OTA can mean. Therefore, buying and partnering seems to be the best option. There will still be integration costs but ultimately bringing it to market as fast as possible and being able to inch your way towards a complete solution. 

So, where does the consumer come into the equation? OTA is, in and of itself, a customer facing feature as well as an enterprise feature. You have the customer centricity around being able to push updates and reducing the need to go into dealerships and having content brought to you. 

OTA allows consumers the ability to receive content or to receive updates to handle a recall and add new services or features without ever leaving the garage. It gives them more time—and time is a precious commodity. The reality is, being able to enable that type of experience has a direct consumer impact.

Hadas Topor Cohen

Hadas Topor Cohen
Senior Director, Head of Products & Business Development - OTA & Cybersecurity, HARMAN 
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