The connected car has plenty of passengers eager to come along for the ride: safety campaigners, environmentalists, insurance campaigners, car rental companies and motorists themselves, all have ambitious plans for the technology.

But despite its exciting destination, connected car technology will struggle to make progress unless technology companies and auto manufacturers can agree on who is doing the driving.

Both have much to gain - but both also stand to lose out if they fail to engineer the right formula. To navigate the challenges that still lie ahead for the connected car, they need a clear understanding of what the real business benefits of this technology will be.

For the connected car to fulfil its potential, manufacturers need to commit to building collaborative, open technology platforms rather than trying to monetise proprietary, closed solutions. Free, open communication between vehicles is an essential part of the advances in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) that are needed to address safety concerns over connected car technology. And ultimately drivers and the brands they drive will benefit most when their vehicles are able to talk directly to one another, sharing information freely. The ambition for auto manufacturers should not simply be for cars to be connected; they must strive for them to be social as well.

This isn’t just the best strategy for the future of the connected car – it’s also the best strategy for manufacturers’ bottom lines. Mobile operators have demonstrated how misguided it can be to attempt to offer over-the-top services to consumers who just want a dependable, accessible technology platform. The real benefit of the connected car for auto brands lies in the data that is generated whenever vehicles share information – and the opportunities that result.

Their car components could soon be able to communicate levels of wear and tear via the web, enabling remote diagnostics, preventative alerts, more efficient servicing and significantly improved customer loyalty. Geo-location can help them to deliver exactly the right service at the right time. And with a flood of data showing exactly how individuals drive, product development can deliver the precise features and designs that customers need.

Key action points for marketers:

  • Work with research agencies to develop analytics platforms that can generate actionable insight from connected car data
  • Integrate customer survey data for sophisticated, individual-based models of driver needs and behaviour
  • Start planning for the potential of the social car as well as the connected car
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