What the Internet of Things Means to Automotive

More information is always better in the quest to improve services and attract more customers

In the past five years, consumer demand for connectivity in every aspect of life has been on the rise. From smart phones to smart homes, the idea that each individual part of a daily routine can be customized and connected for a streamlined experience has quickly moved from The Jetsons into reality, thanks to a suite of technologies known as the Internet of Things (IoT).



While IoT applications have become present in everything from watches to thermostats, the automotive industry has seen one of the greatest shifts toward this ever-growing trend. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 250 million vehicles will be connected globally, becoming a web of information, data, and customer experience.

With numbers like that in mind, it’s important for us to explore how the Internet of Things is already affecting the auto industry, and prepare for the inevitable changes that will take place in the coming years.

The ultimate customized experience

Consumers have long viewed cars as a way to express themselves through their choice of make, model, color, and special features. Vehicles are customizable by nature, but IoT technology is taking that to the next level.

The idea isn’t new—think of the rise in popularity of in-car GPS systems in the early 2000s. Suddenly drivers didn’t need to look at a map to figure out how to best get to their destination—they had a personalized service giving them specific, customized directions in real time.

Then came the ability to connect smartphones with a vehicle, creating a more integrated experience. Consumers listening to a podcast while eating breakfast could walk out the door, get into their car, press a button on their phone, and continue listening to that same podcast. Driving is no longer an isolated activity, but one that is connected with all other aspects of the driver’s life.

The IoT services also offer several more practical opportunities as, such as the ability to constantly monitor vehicle health, and alert a driver to issues or offer how-to options for problem-solving. This kind of connectivity is swiftly becoming an expectation instead of a bonus feature, and will likely be demanded by digitally savvy consumers with increasing frequency.

Certain brands, like Tesla, have already demonstrated the possibility of performing system-level upgrades through technology, eliminating the need for additional time spent at a dealership. Although fewer visits to a dealership may initially seem like a downside, the payoff comes in the form of a deeper connectivity and level of understanding between a driver and its vehicle, along with the opportunity to sell more optimized services and offerings.

The new commodity

With the integration of Internet of Things services, vehicles have become commoditized in a way that would have seemed impossible 20 years ago. That leads to a new question for automotive marketers: How can they maintain control over customer data when software providers are increasingly moving in to the space?

The answer likely lies in collaboration. Rather than clutching cards close to their chests, automotive brands should instead consider how to work together with new software players in the industry to maximize the amount and value of data that is collected.

The waters of ownership will only get more muddied as time goes on, so establishing forward-thinking methodologies, both within a company and with potential partnerships, is now key.

The simple truth

The simple truth behind the ever-increasing integration of Internet of Things services in vehicles is that more information is always better in the quest to improve services and attract more customers. Although self-driving cars may have not yet taken over the streets, IoT technology is already everywhere. The only wrong move is to ignore it.

As president of IgnitionOne, Roger Barnette oversees the company’s aggressive growth and technology strategy. He has extensive experience managing and growing emerging technology businesses, and is a veteran of the online marketing industry.

Roger Barnette

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