Big Data Means Big Possibilities

In 2013 in excess of 480 terabytes of data was collected from more than 26 million connected cars according to an IHS Automotive study. With an estimated collection of 11.1 petabytes of connected car data expected by 2020, the automobile is fast becoming a veritable font of information.

The data collected by the connected car can be viewed in two camps – data collected and retained within the confines of the car and data that can be transmitted to external sources. How the transmitted data is handled is where automakers need to tread the most carefully.

The recent agreement to the Consumer Privacy Protection Principles by Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, BMW, Volvo, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia and Mitsubishi creates a code of conduct enforceable by 2017 models, ensuring that the affiliated car companies obtain permission from customers to use any personal information for marketing. But it also grants permission for OEMs to use data gathered from the connected car as they see fit as long as it is anonymized.

Modern telematics tend to require the driver to have a user account. This not only offers the driver an opportunity to access data about their car and journeys but also puts customer profile information straight into the automakers’ hands; previously this type of information would have gone straight to the car dealer. Having a personal account, in the same manner as one would have a Facebook account, begs the question about whether automakers will go down the same route as mobile and social media companies when it comes to personalized advertising with all this consumer profile information at their fingertips.

David Holecek, director connected products and services of Volvo Cars tells TU, “We see contextual data as a fantastic way to enhance both the in- and out-of-car experience for the customer. While the market for personalized marketing isn’t really mature yet, we do see the long-term potential of delivering relevant commercial information, which in itself could be less annoying than normal generic marketing”.

Mark Rose, head of automotive, consumer electronics, SOBE and M2M business development of Vodafone tells TU, “Thanks to the rich and powerful set of data generated by the connected car,there is very strong potential for advertising however the thing that we are very aware of is issues around privacy and data security”.

Vodafone is not currently seeing any direct requirements from OEMs for personalized advertising yet, but Rose says, “It’s not unlikely that we’ll see personalized advertising in the car, it’s simply not something we’ve been asked about”.

When it comes to what drivers would want to see in the car, however, a recent Telefónica study of 5,000 drivers proved quite revealing. When asked about connected car data and their feelings related to this being used by brands, only 18 percent of drivers wanted to trade their information to receive special offers from brands, and even fewer people (9 percent) wanted to share their in-car information with social networks.

The one instance where sharing basic data did receive a positive response pertained to behavior behind the wheel of an automobile in order to receive lower insurance premiums (38 percent), and also sharing information about a car's condition so garages could bid to maintain it at the lowest cost.

Charles Koch, new business development manager of American Honda sees great value in the big data generated by the connected car when it comes to improving the customer experience and maintenance of their vehicle. “We’re planning on using big data to support the ongoing efficacy of the vehicle and make sure that the customer’s vehicle is working correctly and being able to notify them when we’re anticipating a problem based on the vehicle diagnostics”.

Honda’s vehicle diagnostic data is also becoming accessible to the car owner via mobile apps and web portals. Koch says that Honda’s partners also stand to gain from permission based data: “We’re working with some partners that also work with our dealer networks to notify customers when their service intervals become due and assist them in making appointments through the vehicle itself, the mobile apps or the website”.

Find out more about how data is transforming the automotive industry at TU-Automotive Detroit 2015 (June 3-4). 

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