The connected car is driving us quicker than we know to the new world of the Internet of Things (IoT), where everything that can be connected, will be.
Just five years ago most vehicles didn’t have any type of Internet connectivity. Now, online navigation systems, along with manufacturer-specific onboard systems such as GM OnStar, are fast becoming standard. Research firm Analysys Mason predicts that by 2019, 57% of new cars sold will have an embedded connectivity solution. By 2024 that figure rises to 89%.
Just how big is the IoT (not just automotive, but everything) opportunity? Industry analysts predict high growth numbers and billions of machine-to-machine (M2M) connected devices by the year of 2020. Analyst estimates vary between $26 billion to $212 billion, but as Mobeen Khan, Executive Director, AT&T Advanced Solutions – M2M, says: “every industry with a connected asset will be transformed.”
Amdocs is one of the world’s leading providers of customer experience solutions for communications service providers. The company aims to be a major player in this new world—not only in enabling the connected car, but also in helping to usher in the IoT with its diverse offerings. With global revenues of $3.3 billion, 22,000 employees around the world, active in 80 countries, and counting, many of the world’s biggest telecom, cable and satellite providers among its customers, Amdocs is recognized as one of the major forces in the sector. Through its broad array of business and operational support systems, M2M, network optimization and control solutions, Amdocs is well positioned to work with service providers navigating the new world of IoT.
For example, AT&T announced at the beginning of the year that Amdocs would be a partner in the AT&T Drive Studio, a new center to fuel the development of connected-car services and applications. In a press statement, Amdocs said that by expanding its longstanding AT&T relationship into the emerging connected car market, the company will enable AT&T to enhance its offering by supporting innovative business models with its auto industry partners.
Amdocs will provide AT&T with charging, billing and partner relationship management capabilities that will enable AT&T to split the connectivity charges for separate services occurring in the same car. This means that consumer apps – such as navigation and entertainment – can be billed to consumers, while connectivity for car diagnostics, vehicle telematics and safety services may be included in an automaker’s subscription charge. This split-billing capability also opens up a host of promotional opportunities for auto OEMs, App and content providers, and others in the connected car ecosystem.
Amdocs and AT&T have enjoyed a longstanding, highly successful relationship built on mutual trust – most recently marked by Amdocs’ being named as one of only eight global suppliers to receive the 2014 AT&T Supplier Award for its work in helping AT&T deliver outstanding service to its customers during the past year. Another important milestone came in April, when AT&T named Amdocs as one of the vendors that will help AT&T toward its vision of the User Defined Network Cloud, which will place customers at the center of the network with a modern cloud-based architecture. Beyond the connected car, Amdocs also offers various advanced solutions to help service providers unlock the immense potential of M2M and the IoT, particularly in the domain of the connected home and home security.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Anthony Goonetilleke, Division President at Amdocs with responsibility for the company’s overall AT&T relationship, where he sees M2M evolving.
Goonetilleke: There’s no doubt we’re seeing a tectonic shift when it comes to connected devices. By 2015 it’s predicted that 75% of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet. With a projected 10 billion connected devices during the same time period, the collision of these two dynamics will have a tsunamilike effect on how we interact with machines. As we virtualize and head towards a new dimension of the Cloud of Things (CoT) our information and data about our devices becomes omnipresent in the cloud. When we talk about this “Connected X” future, the motor vehicle becomes an integral component. Given how much time the average person spends in their car, seamless connectivity to a world-class network extends the benefits we increasingly take for granted in our connected homes. One important point: the momentum of the Connected X evolution hinges on providing a seamless customer experience. Instead of having disparate devices, applications, bills, and data buckets like we’ve had in the recent past, the future focuses on a seamless, person-centric connected ecosystem.
AI: Practically speaking, what are the implications of Connected X?
Goonetilleke: The dawning Connected X world – call it Cx for short – has many implications, ranging from security/privacy and various big data aspects to a consolidation within the industry. Instead of using 50 different devices from as many manufacturers, each with its own management layer, we’ll see a convergence to holistic, simplified platforms. Device makers themselves will start to converge on a set of standards like those we’re already beginning to see for low-powered in-home Cx devices. But the major pain point for consumers is still the “one stop” management of their home, car and mobile devices. Rather than having 18 smart phone applications, six bills and three data buckets, convergence will lead to an intuitive, simplified platform that prioritizes ease of use and drives widespread adoption. Another key change that we’ll start to see as we move out of the early adopter stage is that people will want a comprehensive solution, provided by a trusted brand and backed by a reliable network. Because at the end of the day, we’re talking about putting the well-being of our families in the hands of the Cx ecosystem: the security of your home, safety in your car and your privacy all need to be managed intelligently and securely by a trustworthy brand.
AI: What’s your vision of the future of connected machines and the M2M market – at home and elsewhere?
Goonetilleke: Reality is actually outpacing our dreams right now. Last week I spent some time looking at connected diapers (yes, you read that right). One of the versions actually tweets (tweetpee) when your baby does her business, and the other can take a urine sample and analyze it, sending you the results, which show if your baby is dehydrated. We have companies testing slippers that can inform you if an elderly person has fallen over. Both of these are examples of the innovation taking place in the healthcare vertical – one of the most important Cx fronts. I grew up during the golden age of personal computers. The choices were immense: Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC, Dragon 32, TRS 80 – each was amazing in its own right. But as the industry converged to enable interoperability, a set of open communications APIs, and effortless touch interfaces, we moved from the nerdy “geek” user base into today’s reality of never leaving home without your own powerful computer, the smartphone. I believe this is the same trajectory that Cx is on. If something is controllable, if something can provide information, it should be connected! From groundbreaking developments like your doctor getting daily updates on your blood pressure, blood sugar and any other health measurements so he can proactively diagnose you, to your home being a virtually living organism that senses and communicates the Cx future is just beginning. Add to this the once-humble motor vehicle that is transforming into a safer, information-savvy connected device and you have your personal ecosystem developed and, more importantly, connected.
AI: What are some of the challenges – and what should we keep in mind as this market continues to evolve?
Goonetilleke: Mobile network operators (MNOs) are an important player in this new world, enabling the connectivity between all those devices. The network itself becomes the challenge but also the opportunity. The network, then, becomes the most important asset in this new connected world. Consumers want a reliable, world-class network that can cope with our thirst for data. Companies like AT&T ensure service ubiquity in a fragmented ecosystem with products like AT&T Digital Life for the home, and connected car making our cars safer and smarter – they take the lead in simplifying the experience of managing a plethora of disparate connected devices.
AI: The M2M value chain is immense, with many vendors jostling for position. What is required to be a leader in the Connected Car and the larger M2M arena?
Goonetilleke: The short answer is: deep industry experience blended with innovation, a world-class network and a focus on a simplified customer experience. Consider: Too many discussions about the Internet of Things revolve around the exciting new services that will change people’s lives, but stop there. Everyone talks about it – but what’s being done? Who’s planning to manage all of these devices? Provide services? Harvest and operationalize the data, while keeping it secure? Who will manage the network bandwidth needs? Who provides the integrated billing, charging, operational support, data analytics and geo-located intelligence that will not only enable seamless services, but allow service providers to realize a return on their capital investments? We must execute on each of these strategic and tactical elements if we hope to fully realize the potential value of Cx opportunities, while striving to simplify the overall customer experience.
AI – Can you provide a personal perspective on the “Internet of Things” and the impact it’s having on the next generation—our own kids?
Goonetilleke: If you can control something, or if it can provide any information, my kids expect it to interact with their smart phone. They have grown up with an expectation of “being connected”. Recently, while traveling to Australia my daughter, who was five at the time, opened her MacBook, logged in, and slammed it shut shortly afterwards – I asked her what the problem was, and she said it was “broken.” Further investigation revealed that her definition of broken was that it did not have Internet access – it wasn’t connected. My kids don’t ask if a device has an option to be connected – they expect that it is built with connectivity. Their expectation is that leaving the house does not mean the loss of connectivity – although adults are more tolerant (some of us still remember the days of a 300 baud rate modem). My daughter expects to have LTE on her smartphone wherever she goes. Of course, there are many who question our children’s attachment to technology and their compulsion to be constantly connected, but I think every generation needs to find their own equilibrium, and human nature has a funny way of redefining norms.
Taking the customer relationship to the next level
Customer experience management (CEM) is the latest, and perhaps most important, evolution of customer management methodology. And it has evolved well beyond traditional CRM (customer relationship management).
AI asked Chris Williams, Head of Marketing at Amdocs, to provide his perspective on the growth of CEM, why it’s important, and the role Amdocs has played in helping CEM evolve into a recognized business category.
Williams: The customer is at the heart of everything Amdocs does, and it’s been that way since we were founded in 1982. Before Amdocs, the phone number was the central way that telecom service providers related to the customer. We had a different viewpoint, realizing that the customer really was at the center of things, not the phone number. While the telecom market has changed beyond recognition since then, our steadfast focus on the customer, and the quality of that customer’s experience, has not. But the world has now come around to our way of thinking, with customer experience management becoming an accepted industry term. The digital revolution has empowered customers to expect and demand a more compelling experience – one that in many ways they may want to help define. The service provider of the future will recognize this, and be able to offer a more robust set of digital services on an almost on-demand basis, and that will form the cornerstone of their sustainable competitive advantage. As such the service provider model we know today will evolve to a broader digital services definition.
AI: Please give a thumbnail description of CEM.
Williams: Think of CEM as the collection of processes a service provider uses to track, oversee and organize every interaction with its customers, throughout the customer lifecycle and from device to network.