Garmin: A navigation device can deliver so much more than just navigation

Garmin: A navigation device can deliver so much more than just navigation

Roger Jollis, marketing director and business segment leader for Garmin’s automotive OEM business, has extensive experience in location-based solutions in both the device and content markets. He leads Garmin's business development activities for the automotive OEM and mobile segments. Prior to his work at Garmin, Jollis held leadership roles at Hewlett-Packard and Magellan Navigation in both North America and Europe.

What does your company do?

Garmin is a leading supplier of navigation, communications, and vehicle control systems for anything that moves: automobiles, trucks, aircraft, boats, bikes, and people. While we are probably best known for our automotive portable navigation devices, Garmin has already established itself as the leading supplier to general aviation, corporate jet, and boat manufacturers.

My department is responsible for global business development and marketing for our automotive industry solutions. Six years ago, we began as a supplier of customized portable navigation devices that were sold by automotive parts and accessories departments.

Garmin is not only the market leader for portable navigation, but we have supplied more automotive accessory programs than anybody in the industry. We are also now a successful tier-1 and tier-2 supplier of navigation and telematics solutions for the automotive factory. Our portfolio of factory solutions includes subsystems, navigation software, and full turnkey systems for car, motorbike, and truck manufacturers.

How do you differentiate your offerings from competitors?

Garmin’s mission is to deliver products that enrich the lives of our customers. We differentiate our offerings by enhancing their usefulness to the customer and their intuitive ease-of-use.

Garmin is unique in the industry because we are a vertically integrated company. This strategy enables us to better control the quality of our products, the speed of our innovation, and our costs. It enables us to be nimble in the rapidly changing markets that we serve.

That being said, we have successfully partnered with other industry players to ensure that we can build synergies that allow us to deliver best-in-class products to our customers. Our quality policy is a topic that is front-and-center in our associates’ minds. We know that Garmin’s products are often used as part of an overall safety system, (aviation and marine, for example) where life-and-death decisions are at stake. For this reason, the products we deliver to our customers must operate flawlessly.

Finally, our products and our brand are synonymous with fun and enjoyment. Over 20 million loyal customers are counted amongst Garmin’s family.

What partnerships are you currently forging? What industry milestone did you recently achieve?

Garmin continues to forge partnerships when there is mutual agreement that a partnership can provide synergies for the customer or the partners. Where gaps in our capabilities are identified, we also seek to forge new partnerships to ensure that we can meet our goal of delivering products that delight our customers.

More specifically, we continue to look at new ways to bring dynamic content and services to our connected products. But that doesn’t mean all content and services are interesting. We carefully assess what will deliver sustainable value to our customers, value that can help differentiate our products and serve our customer. Costs and benefits must be carefully balanced.

Garmin’s most recent milestone is the delivery of its line of location-centric smart phones that brings navigation and location-based services to the top of a deep stack of applications. The nüvifones are robust in features but simple to use.

Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?

I believe that the biggest trend to impact the industry is the proliferation of navigation in the mass market: first with the portable navigation devices (PNDs) and now the smartphone with on-board and off-board navigation. These consumer electronics categories have gone a long way to make consumers comfortable with turn-by-turn navigation as a utility.

Five or six years ago, such systems may have been seen as an expensive curiosity, mainly of interest to the gadget minded; many other people simply downloaded a route list from online services like Mapquest or Google Maps. But now, with the proliferation of these navigation categories, consumers have gained experience and they understand the utility of these devices.

Up until now, built-in head-unit navigation systems have been fairly expensive. As a result, the automotive industry lost out on the explosion in popularity of turn-by-turn navigation over the past five years as portable navigation experienced exponential growth. Not to be outdone, the automotive industry is now looking at ways to bring a lower cost navigation solution to the market. The combination of lower costs and consumer familiarity will drive attach rates as consumers come to the conclusion that in-dash solutions offer a whole lot more convenience, functionality, and integration with the vehicle.

Technologically, two additional and hard-hitting trends will be in-vehicle and HMI enhancement. With the cost and coverage of the mobile data network continuing to improve, we will begin to see (and have indeed already seen) new off-board services come to the vehicle. Dynamic content like fuel prices, weather information, flow-based traffic through embedded probes, and local search will be amongst the features that will become commonplace. Connectivity will also enable social networking both on a personal and non-personal basis, allowing the community to contribute information to enhance the time and cost efficiencies of driving a car.

The second major improvement will be in the fundamental way that humans interact with in-vehicle technology. Where today it may take a PhD to figure out some infotainment systems, we will be moving to a world where user interfaces are simplified. Users are demanding this. The improvement in voice recognition technologies will allow drivers and passengers to interact with systems in a more natural way. The end-goal will be to provide the information required without causing a distraction to the driver.

You are a speaker at ourupcoming flagshipevent Telematics Detroit 2010. What key topics will you discuss with the industry at the show?

In general, the Garmin team will be at the Telematics Detroit 2010 as much to listen as we are there to speak. This is a premier event in which to exchange ideas, learn about the latest industry directions, and to network with potential customers and partners.

We are particularly interested in learning about new business models and technology that will allow the industry to deliver broadband connectivity to the vehicle in an affordable and intuitive package. The vision for the connected car is ambitious. But up to now, while the technology is ready, the business model is not simple and not inexpensive.

A navigation device, whether part of an infotainment head unit or as a portable device, can be used to deliver so much more than just turn-by-turn navigation and connected content. At Garmin, we’re looking at ways to extend the usefulness of our navigation systems.

At this conference, I will be speaking about the extended functionality that we are bringing to our navigation solutions. I will be discussing Garmin’s recent launch of ecoRoute and ecoRoute HD. These applications extend the usefulness of our navigation solutions by helping drivers to drive efficiently to reduce fuel use and their carbon footprint.

As we emerge from the recent global economic downturn and economies begin to grow, we can be assured that we will see fuel prices increasing. The ecoRoute applications will help customers to better understand how they use fuel and will help them tune their driving to reduce their fuel consumption through more efficient routes and a clear non-judgmental assessment of their driving behaviors.

ecoRoute HD goes even further by extracting engine data, fuel usage, and diagnostic information that is graphically displayed for easy driver interpretation. These features can save the consumer money and prepare them for their next automotive service interval.

As the world moves from petroleum-based transportation to electric vehicles, managing fuel (electricity) usage will become even more important. After all, you can’t easily carry a can of electricity when you have run out of gas!

For more on the value of diagnostic information, see ‘Should drivers have access to their diagnostics data?’. []

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