One of the big themes emerging from the CES (also known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is the ever-deeper relationship between telecommunications and the automobile industry. The growth of connectivity in vehicles clearly is an important topic for managers concerned with the potential benefits (increased productivity) and challenges (increased security headaches).
NPR offers a good rundown. While Ford did not make an expected announcement with Google, the company did announce technology to enable people in cars to control their home devices and said it is working on ways to deploy drones from vehicles. The story also details announcements made by General Motors and Toyota.
The NPR story didn’t cover all the automobile news at CES. InformationWeek looked specifically at what Microsoft had up its sleeve (or in its driveway). Redmond updated visitors on its relationships with Volvo, Nissan, Harman and IAV.
The main business element of the story focused on Harman, which is involved in bringing Microsoft Office 365 to automobile infotainment systems:
Without compromising safety, mobile workers will be able to hear and respond to emails, schedule meetings, join conference calls without manually inputting phone numbers, and manage tasks throughout the day. Drivers will eventually be able to hold Skype calls while in park or while driving an autonomous vehicle.
AT&T said at the convention that it will connect more than 10 million Ford vehicles by 2020, which constitutes an expansion to an earlier agreement between the companies. The companies will focus on Wi-Fi hotspots in in the vehicles, cellular-power navigation systems and remote maintenance check capabilities, according to CNET.
Volkswagen, which has got nothing but bad news and bad publicity last year, introduced Budd-e. The Verge describes the advanced communications functionality, which almost shared top billing with the mechanics of the car itself. The vehicle meshes with its owner’s residential HVAC system and offers something for everyone:
The screen is broken out into three different sections, each focused on a different task: Drive (with navigation mapping and other similar data), Control (with vehicle status-type information), and Consume, which includes things like audio controls, as well as smartphone integration for displaying messages, calendar, and weather data.
The deep integration of vehicles and telecommunications still seems a tiny bit strange, especially to people who matured before the explosion of connectivity. But it makes more sense as time goes on. It will, of course, continue to expand. There are risks and rewards for this for businesses, and managers must pay close attention.