Telematics Update interviews Partha Goswami, Technology Manager, Infotainment and Telematics in R&D and Strategic Planning, GM

Telematics Update interviews Partha Goswami, Technology Manager, Infotainment and Telematics in R&D and Strategic Planning, GM


Mr. Goswami has more than fifteen years of experience in the automotive industry, with a rich background spanning product development, brand strategy, engineering finance, concept innovation and technology strategy development. He has been in his current role for the last three years. In this role, he is responsible for infotainment business planning and strategy and is passionately involved in the carmaker's transition to the digital age. He holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace/Engineering Mechanics from Iowa State University and an MBA from Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

What does your department do?

I am part of the ‘Technology Management’ group within General Motor’s R&D organization. This is a business unit responsible for project/process management of our advanced technology portfolio, strategic planning and insertion of technology into product platforms. Personally, I focus on Infotainment and Connected Vehicle, developing strategic roadmaps, and am responsible for technology planning of GM’s electric vehicle platform.

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

Clearly, GM’s unique strength is its decade-old embedded telematics services through OnStar. No other OEM has the same infrastructure and nearly fifteen years of experience in Safety & Security services. This competence is now being globalized and extended to several countries outside the US. The same capability is also being used very effectively for a host of advanced diagnostic and prognostic services, largely unmatched in the industry. At the same time, we are steadily proliferating consumer-centric connectivity options for our consumers, be it for the upcoming Chevy Cruze or Cadillac CTS. So I would say that our Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the space really is our full menu of both vehicle-centric connectivity services and consumer-centric infotainment options.

What partnerships are you currently forging? What industry milestone are you working towards?

Expertise required for some connectivity technology lies outside the conventional automotive supply chain. The business paradigms in this new value chain are somewhat different than what the traditional auto industry is used to. The new GM is certainly exploring collaborations at both strategic and tactical levels to meet the needs of our future products. One product where some of these collaborations will be critical is our upcoming debut of the ‘industry first’ range-extender electric vehicle – Chevy Volt (and Opel Ampera). We are rapidly approaching the milestone of launching this product, scheduled for end of 2010. The launch of the Chevy Volt will usher in an added dimension of connectivity—that of connecting the vehicle to the energy grid and related information network. A production version of the Volt is already being displayed at the LA auto show. So stay tuned for upcoming announcements.

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

Several technological evolutions are already impacting our driving expectation and experience, potentially forcing new innovations from the automotive industry. We are rapidly moving towards a state of ubiquitous connectivity. For instance, WiFi connected laptop users at schools, airports or Starbucks are now as common as mobile phone users. The pervasiveness of GPS is another trend that is single-handedly fueling the location-based services (LBS) industry. Add to that the “iPhone” and “App” phenomenon—that has created a whole new business model and unleashed the creativity of a whole new industry to write and deliver small apps and widgets ranging from silly to sublime. The availability of broadband mobile Internet via Smartphone and connected devices like Kindle has taken our content experience to yet another level. Put everything together and the bottom line is that we are increasingly getting used to customized media, information and services independent of our location, albeit at a price. It’s a natural extension and not a novelty to expect the same experience in your car, hopefully in a safe manner.

You are an integral part of our upcoming event the Consumer Telematics Show 2010. Could you tell us what key topics or issues you will discuss with the industry at the show?

Two specific topics are high on my mind. One is more contemporary and visible than the other. First, the contemporary. iTunes and iPhones have sparked consumers’ imagination and excitement around the concept of download from an “app store”. Many smart minds are now brainstorming and prototyping the concept and its business model in the automotive context. Excitements and buzz aside, I am curious to understand the leading-edge ideas around sensible applications and appropriate business models for automobiles. Is this a viable revenue-generator or a niche customer delighter? How can this be tailored for automotive business where scale and volume are very different from mobile phone industry? Second, I am interested in connectivity discussions relevant to electric cars. Exploration of greener and alternative energy is now a global need. So I believe electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids that will charge batteries off the grids are going to be more than a fad in the coming years. Even if they continue to be a niche in the foreseeable future, they will require unique “connected” services by being simultaneously integrated to both the information and energy grids. Therefore, EV-telematics could very well be the next new growth area in this space. I would definitely like to see some emphasis on this topic at future shows.

Which gadgets/gizmos/cars are on your Christmas wish list?

Okay, my list is pretty small. I’m considering an Android phone, perhaps HTC Hero. I was also looking for an audio/video player with WiFi for streaming video. I just found a Blueray player with Ethernet and WiFi (at Best Buy) that is hooked to Netflix for movie rental via streaming. That is pretty neat.

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