Weekly Brief: Step into the Telematics Genius Bar

Weekly Brief: Step into the Telematics Genius Bar

In this week’s Brief: Apple, General Motors, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, FC Business Intelligence, Telematics Update, Open Mobile Media, SiriusXM, Agero, Rave Mobile Safety, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Tesla and C.J. Driscoll & Associates.

Apple stores are famous for the Genius Bar, a station where customers can pose any question about Apple products to a team of eager engineers in bright blue shirts. Last week, General Motors urged its U.S. dealerships to adopt a similar set-up for its telematics and infotainment services. 

GM “Connection Centers” will be staffed with professionals who can call attention to GM’s connected services – from OnStar to infotainment systems like Chevy MyLink – and troubleshoot customer questions about configuration or use, thereby driving sales, customer loyalty and retention.

A GM study found that 94% of customers need technology support when it comes to telematics and more than 50% would use such a center if it existed. GM is urging all of its 4,300 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers in the United States to implement Connection Centers before 2015 GM vehicles with integrated 4G LTE Internet trundle off factory floors in early 2014. “It’s another effort on our journey to provide this overall customer experience,” GM spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin told The Detroit News.

In other news, FC Business Intelligence, the London-based conference and business intelligence company that owns Telematics Update, acquired Open Mobile Media, organizer of two of the most influential conferences in the international mobile industry calendar (The Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco and London).

FC Business Intelligence (FCBI) will maintain the existing Open Mobile Summits while allowing for cross-pollination between Telematics Update and other FCBI brands, which include M for Mobile, eyeforpharma and Wind Energy Update. “We’re excited about the acquisition of Open Mobile Media,” says Guy Grant, FCBI’s founder. “It will provide a lynchpin for the growth of our existing assets in location-based services, mobile payments, the mobile wallet, near field communication and our other niche mobile events.”

SiriusXM completed its $530-million acquisition of Agero’s connected vehicle services. The new SiriusXM Connected Vehicle Services Inc. will unite Agero’s traditional focus on telematics with SiriusXM’s infotainment and advertising expertise. With the deal closed, SiriusXM becomes the leading telematics services provider (by the number of clients at least), with OEM customers including Acura, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota.

Rave Mobile Safety successfully demoed its Smart911 Connect platform in King County, Washington. The Smart911 platform can distinguish 911 calls that originate from in-vehicle telematics systems, such as OnStar, and render their automatic crash notification data directly onto the call taker’s desktop screen. In the demo, this process included converting the complex Vehicle Emergency Data Set (VEDS) into a format which could be readily interpreted by 911 personnel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was last week on the brink of opening an investigation into the Tesla Model S after a third engine fire in the past six weeks. The Tesla Model S is seen as a bellwether for the electric vehicle industry, telematics services included. The latest fire happened in Tennessee when a driver drove over a tow hitch, puncturing the battery compartment in the process. Tesla stocks dropped almost 10% in response to news of the fire.

Finally, a new study from C.J. Driscoll & Associates augurs good things for the fleet management industry. The “2013-14 Survey of Fleet Operator Interest in MRM Systems and Services” found that more than 75% of fleets using a GPS fleet management system reported a high level of satisfaction and two-thirds reported that they have recouped their investment in the system. Additionally, 16% of participating fleets that have never used a GPS fleet management system expected to deploy a system in the next 12 to 18 months.

The study was based on a telephone survey of more than 500 U.S. fleet operators across all major fleet categories.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics Munich 2013 on Nov. 11-12 in Munich, Germany, Telematics for Fleet Management USA 2013 on Nov. 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia, Content and Apps for Automotive USA 2013 on Dec. 11-12 in San Francisco, Consumer Telematics Show 2014 on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013The Automotive HMI Report 2013Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.


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