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Last month, I talked about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the four key areas where IoT can unlock the most business value and new revenue growth opportunities for manufacturers. In this next post, I want to continue my discussion on IoT in a three-part segment series, first taking a deeper look at its potential for the automotive industry.

The Internet of Things for automakers

Most of us have experienced first-hand the changes happening when it comes to buying and owning a vehicle. For people buying a car these days, more than 60 percent of the decision is now made online before the customer visits the dealership. This is a huge change based on our digitally-connected world and consumers’ changing buying behaviors. That same connectedness that has changed consumer behavior and expectations, though, is also one of the key enablers in transforming the automotive industry.

Through the advancements in connectivity, device options and data analysis software, IoT can do tremendous things to advance your business: from sales, marketing and service, to the factory floor and supply chain, to delivering superior manufactured vehicles and customer experiences.

When it comes to providing experiences that differentiate from the competition, IoT is creating new opportunities in the vehicle itself.

The connected vehicle

There is a huge transformation happening when it comes to the vehicle. Today, 10-15 percent of vehicles are connected. By 2020, this number will be 80 percent and generating 1GB of data an hour.

The connected car experience is the future of the automotive industry, because it is changing the relationship between automakers and their customers and offering new revenue streams. By providing a connected vehicle experience, automakers can transform how they engage with consumers, some for the first time.

For example, a two-way-in-car platform within the vehicle can enable communications to provide value-added services, using vehicle related, location-specific, and consumer-context information. When it comes to maintenance and repair, auto manufacturers will be able to deliver proactive information on servicing. The car can alert the owner when maintenance is needed based on wear and can predict, and thereby avoid, a breakdown. Even insurance premiums can come down with a safe driver app.

Aided by a wealth of supporting technologies such as devices, cloud, and big data, the connected vehicle is the means to deliver on the promise of making the journey safe, enjoyable, and productive for your customers, and delivering it as a seamless extension to their digital home, office, or leisure activities.

Driving connected experiences through the cloud

Cloud computing has become the catalyst supporting evolving IoT initiatives including the connected vehicle. Microsoft’s role is helping to bring the power of the cloud and the platform to light up those new experiences. One of the latest examples of using the cloud in the automotive sector involves Qoros Auto. Qoros is developing connected car ‘infotainment’ services using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Called QorosQloud, the services will span entertainment, navigation, communication and vehicle monitoring functions, accessed by the vehicle occupants through an eight-inch infotainment touch screen. You can learn more about its solution here and there’s a great new video that shows this in action.

Delphi is also an innovator in connected infotainment systems. Using Microsoft Azure, Delphi has developed a unique global connectivity solution that allows drivers to interact with their vehicles from wherever they are, personalize the in-vehicle experience by downloading apps, access internet radio, understand service needs before hitting the road, customize the instrument panel and more.

Another really innovative company in this space is Toyota. About three years ago Toyota decided to use Microsoft Azure for its telematics platform for Toyota plug-in hybrid and fully-electric vehicles. By using Azure’s enterprise-grade, scalable platform, Telematics is able to deliver everything from digital entertainment to driving information like GPS and traffic updates to energy management and other data-driven services in a vehicle.

These are just a few examples of how the automotive industry is taking advantage of the capabilities of IoT and Microsoft technologies to deliver connected and differentiated in-car experiences. With IoT, the opportunities to transform your business with better insight, enhanced customer service, improved processes, and new business opportunities are immense, and we look forward to helping you.

For any questions, please contact msmfg@microsoft.com.

Sanjay Ravi

Twitter at @MSFTmfg
LinkedIn: Sanjay Ravi
Twitter: @sanrav