ATX Group: "Consumers around the globe demand connectivity"

Briefly, what does your department/company do?

ATX has launched nearly 20 different connected vehicle platforms since helping pioneer one of the first connected vehicle programs in 1996 (Lincoln RESCU in the U.S.).

Today, ATX utilizes the cloud to aggregate and deliver a variety of content and services to OEMs and their customers. We provide the infrastructure, back-office, administration and data processing to manage those programs to achieve customer service objectives, as well as user interfaces inside and outside the vehicle.

ATX is the connected vehicle services division of Cross Country Automotive Services. Across the enterprise, we manage roadside assistance programs in the U.S. on behalf of global automobile manufacturers and U.S. insurance carriers, providing solutions for the nearly 6 million roadside service events each year.

We also provide accident scene management and vehicle loss screening services for insurance carriers.

What is your role and experience in the European Telematics market?

First, we support strongly eCall deployment in Europe through different supporting working groups and organizations. We’ve developed an innovative approach that fits within the current standardization process that can accelerate the broad adoption of eCall by OEMs even prior to mandate.

Second, within a stagnant telematics market in Europe, we want to educate OEMs on TSP benefits to create value in the telematics business. We have strong experience in the U.S., where most of the OEMs now offer either basic telematics – free or included in the price of the car – or subscription-based packages.

The TSP plays a major role in supporting the OEM commercialization process and ensuring subscription and renewal rates. This is just one of the many different aspects where the TSP is supporting the OEMs, but it is very important in Europe in order to develop telematics business.

Lastly, after having operating telematics platforms in Europe or North America for more than 16 years, we have developed over the last three years a global approach to support our various existing customers to expand their programs in Europe and in other regions of the world.

This is being deployed, and we believe we’ll announce major successes based on that approach.

With so much competition among automakers, can technical openness succeed? Is open innovation a particular challenge for this industry?

Innovation will always be a challenge when comparing the automotive development cycle with the consumer electronics development cycle. The ability of OEMs to be open toward technologies being brought into the vehicle will be a critical element moving forward.

While certain things like safety will remain consistent among OEM programs, the user interface will continue to be a differentiating factor – enabling the customer to interact with technology in a way that supports each OEMs’ respective brand image will be an important element in how we deliver our services moving forward.

Cross Country has an experienced HMI group that engages with the OEM to design these brand-centric user experiences. The ability for suppliers like ATX to deploy brand-focused programs using a common back end will allow the competition and innovation while retaining the brand identities.

What recent achievements have been made in your department/company and what are you working towards?

ATX recently launched the Hyundai Blue Link connected vehicle services program in the U.S., which includes more than 30 innovative services that provide Hyundai owners with enhanced safety, convenience, content and connectivity. These services are accessed through a variety of interfaces, including an advanced, off-board voice recognition system designed by ATX.

In addition to Hyundai, our two other telematics partners – BMW and Toyota/Lexus – also garnered top awards at the recent Telematics Detroit 2011 conference.

All of our efforts envision a global platform that leverages the latest in technology to deliver privately labeled, in-vehicle content integration, enhanced safety and simple user interfaces that both enhance the vehicle ownership experience and provide greater customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and cost savings to automotive-related businesses.

What key topics or issues you are looking at discussing with the industry at the show and why they are of upmost important to move the industry forward?

In the European market, the discussion must start with how to provide a creative, effective and cost-efficient solution to deliver a pan-European eCall function. It’s an area in which we’ve been involved for a decade.

That experience was critical in developing the transition from the traditional call center approach to a self-dispatching, IP-based solution that is more conducive to today’s networked infrastructure and addressing the nuances of the European market.

Addressing core safety needs of the market is the foundation upon which all discussion at this conference must be based.

Beyond the provision of an eCall and stolen vehicle location capability, the connected vehicle discussion must focus on the integration of content or applications into the vehicle, whether involving navigation, safety, advertising, insurance or remote activation of vehicle functions – and that requires further discussion about infrastructure and human machine interface.

We know there is demand for the applications. For the industry to move forward, the discussion must continue to focus on the infrastructure and the business model needed to deliver it.

Over the past 12-18 months, telematics has carved its niche in the auto industry and is now an essential part of the auto OEM strategy. What developments/trends do you see impacting the industry over the next 2-5 years?

There are several emerging global trends currently driving the industry. First and foremost is the globalization of the consumer demand for continuous connectivity, which is being enabled by 4G wireless technologies and the proliferating consumer market for electronic devices.

Consumers around the globe demand connectivity wherever they go and that includes while they are in their vehicles, so automakers must meet that demand whether attracting new customers in emerging markets or increasing market share customers in mature markets.

As a result, I believe you will see global connected vehicle platforms emerge that will introduce new business models based more on sponsored and personalized content, and integration of connectivity across the automotive enterprise as part of the total brand experience, the service experience, the insurance experience, the driving/ownership experience, and the need by everyone in the automotive chain for real-time data in order to ensure vehicle safety, performance and customer loyalty for repeat business.


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