Timing Is Everything: Why The Connected Car Needs Smarter Analytics

Wednesday January 27th, 2016

While other industries are just now coming to grips with sensor data and other forms of big data, the automotive industry can smugly say that they are veterans in this area. Since the late nineties, car manufacturers have been using data from the Engine Control Unit (ECU), Controller Area Network (CAN) and telematics to improve and enhance their vehicles.

Fast forward to today, and while car manufacturers are comfortable with big data, there’s a new challenge looming – lots of data. The connected car has been called a “gigantic data-collection engine” for good reason.

Just how much data do the experts think car manufacturers are going to have to be prepared for? Let me give you an illustration. Today, car makers might be downloading 100 – 200 kilobytes of data from a car, once a year, during its annual service. With the connected car, kilobytes of data can be downloaded every day. In addition, connected cars will have remote diagnostics capability to record data on-demand as needed, so engineers can study anomalies in detail.

The scale of the data deluge becomes clear when we take into account that analysts, Gartner, predict that there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020.

Just what sort of data would a car manufacturer be able to collect from a connected car? Here are just a few examples – Vehicle Generated Data, User Generated Data, Network Generated Data, Vehicle Configuration, Geolocation, Vehicle Owner, and Diagnostic Trouble Code – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s clear that car manufacturers will need to decide whether it makes business sense to collect all the data available, considering the cost of transferring and managing the data.

Don’t Drive Round in Circles

And it’s not just about deciding what data to collect. Car manufacturers also need that data to parlay into value for the company.

With industry trends indicating that the nature of car ownership itself is changing, the data from the connected car can play an integral role in helping car makers position themselves to offer alternatives such as pay-as-you-drive insurance, car leasing or shared-usage businesses.

For car manufacturers, their data journey should not only include data from the connected car, it should also take into account other sources of data held by the company. It is when these are analysed with the right technology, that car manufacturers can get real business insights.

Timing is Everything

Car manufacturers often get themselves in trouble when thinking that all this data needs to be analysed in real-time. But not only would that be prohibitively expensive, it would also be a drain on valuable resources. Instead, car manufacturers need to think about how the data can be used and to what benefit. Often analyzing the data minutes, hours, and days after the data is collected still yields actionable insights.

Here are some examples of the value that data analytics performed at the right time rather than in real-time can provide:

Sub-Seconds –Combining the data fed from forward facing radars, with the connection of the vehicle to infrastructure, the ability to see around corners and other cars, crashes can be prevented with seconds to spare.

Seconds to Minutes -Traction control systems sensing slippage on a wheel sends data to other cars approaching that location, warning them of the hazardous conditions.

-Transmitting alerts to owners via anti-theft devices if a vehicle is suspected to have been stolen, based on entry mode or location.

Hours-Detecting quality issues of cars in the field or targeting offers and services to connected owners as the car passes a certain position.

–By analyzing the usage patterns and behaviors of customers, car companies can propose deals for pay-as-you-drive insurance or information on a car-sharing program.

Months -Feeding usage information back to design teams, so that changes can be implemented, for instance, if sensor read-outs suggest that back doors of certain models are not often opened and closed, design teams can make a decision to only manufacture a 3-door version of that model instead of the 5-door version.

This approach of performing analytics on the data at the right time, rather than in real time, means that companies can put the ability to query the data in the hands of frontline staff, not just strategic or middle-management levels.

Call centre operatives, showroom sales staff and service centre repair engineers can see all the other touch points and conversations that a particular consumer has had with the company. This means that they can respond intelligently to the customer, which, in the long-term, means satisfied and loyal customers, better efficiency and profitability.

If you’re interested in this topic, you will find in-depth analysis and innovative examples of how connected car data is being used in Winning the Connected Car Data Wars.

This post first appeared on Forbes TeradataVoice on 29/10/2015.

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Akihiro Kurita

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