We need new models to keep consumers digitally delighted in their cars

December 18, 2020
Sanjay Khatri
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“What is the number one challenge in delivering compelling connected In-Vehicle Infotainment?”

We posed this seemingly simple question to the attendees of our recent Webinar who represented a good cross-section of the automotive industry. Of course, the premise is that there are challenges delivering compelling connected In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI). Are there?

The fact that several major automotive OEMs have resorted to letting Big Tech, especially Google with Google Automotive Services, define the in-vehicle infotainment experience is a strong indication that OEMs do feel challenged to do it by themselves.

One main reason is that OEMs have long operated in and even excelled at dealing with long product lifecycles where new models are launched every 4-5 years. And the development and launch of new IVI systems and new digital experiences have followed suit.

Consumers, on the other hand, are used to getting new features, an updated look and feel, and usability improvements much more frequently. Think smartphone and app updates. This misalignment between new IVI systems measured in years and the expectation of an always-fresh user experience underlies the challenges of delivering compelling connected IVI.

Hence the allure of letting Big Tech come in and offer to solve it lock, stock and barrel. But that comes at a cost. A recent car ad running in prime time shows actors alternating between calling the car by its brand name and Alexa, the voice assistant available in the new model. By letting someone else define the in-car digital experience, OEMs run the risk of losing their brand identity and worse yet, brand loyalty from their customers.

That matters. As the consumption model for cars, much like other consumer products, tilts towards a software and service centric model, losing that direct customer relationship is going to be an expensive compromise for OEMs.

Now back to the question and the responses. There’s no clear winner on the number one challenge, rather the results seem to suggest that it’s all-of-the-above. Another way to interpret it is that the respondents agree that there are both commercial and technical dimensions to the problem. And that’s the topic of our recent Webinar featuring thought leaders from Strategy Analytics, Cerence and Telenav who discuss new technical and business models OEMs can adopt for delivering continuously delightful connected IVI. Check it out.