I believe the infotainment system is a solid bet as a differentiator for automakers as it will be the key to creating a personalized customer and brand experience in the next few years before operating systems assume more holistic control of the mobility ecosystem. The industry can follow two directions. The Android Automotive Initiative or their own way.
The OEMs still have complete control of access to sensor data (Digital Sensor Pie). Their cooperation is still essential for any data monetization strategy. All infotainment units remain proprietary and closed to date. This means OEMs still have complete control over access to sensor data.
However, many are really struggling and some, in their despair, are turning to Google to solve their problems. 30% of something is better than 100% of nothing- that´s the mindset that drives OEMs to Google.
The Infotainment is already a central touchpoint within vehicles and will certainly remain one in the future as assisted and autonomous driving emerge.
Minimizing complexity will also assist OEMs to provide MaaS to the mass market. This could be achieved through collaboration across OEMs to create a common German platform for hardware and software and sensory technology—a single cloud solution, battery concept, frame and modularized system that allows for easy exchange of parts across all brands for the mass market. One car could than offer a cross-brand driving experience. This will allow OEMs to expand their physical reach rapidly, delivering the context-driven services consumers are demanding while focusing their efforts on maximizing differentiation—i.e., developing the advanced operating systems that allow them to understand and learn from customer behavior and data, improve the customer experience and drive customer loyalty.
More software developers
The challenge for local OEMs is, however, catching up to more advanced players in the software and the autonomous vehicle arenas. To do this they might need more software developers and data scientists than hardware engineers. The competition to deliver mobility as a service is tough—and set to get tougher as new entrants (including platform and service players within the field of mobility) pile into the space and continue to raise their game.
OEMs will have to adopt new business models that enable them to strengthen their existing capabilities.
The key to long-term success in terms of winning customers is to build fast, learn and adapt rather than scale a single device many times. OEMs are in pole position to leverage this agile development methodology—if they can bolster their existing capabilities around creating and manufacturing cars, AND build new capabilities around ideating, testing and rolling out mobility and digital services.
German automotive companies can accelerate the pace of development through partnerships with the big software houses, IT consultancies and small innovators. In effect, hardware development excellence must now be complemented with software agility—this is the key to owning client data and customer relationships and leading in the new MaaS environment. However, waiting to perfect solutions before releasing them will not, in the fast moving digital realm, provide any advantage. Agile thinking and iterative agile development methodologies need to be adopted.
I look forward to the challenge of helping our German automotive clients accelerate their efforts to lead in the digital automotive sector. Feel free to contact me to discuss the challenges and opportunities. Our network is primed to provide support.
You can also click through to this Accenture insight for more on MaaS and mapping a route to future success in the new automotive sector.