Ten million lines of software code and rising

We are seeing the latest developments in mobile technology and products unveiled at Mobile World Commerce (MWC). Just as you are now likely to bump into the executives from technology and telco companies at the key auto shows, among those...

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We are seeing the latest developments in mobile technology and products unveiled at Mobile World Commerce (MWC). Just as you are now likely to bump into the executives from technology and telco companies at the key auto shows, among those watching the developments at MWC closely will be the car manufacturers as they seek to uncover the next wave of consumer demand, and design the platforms needed to incorporate it.

This is because buying a new car is as much about the in-car technology as it is the engine performance. Our research among drivers in 12 countries has shown that nearly 40 percent of drivers cite in-car technology as the primary factor when considering purchasing a new car. But while rise of the connected vehicle has provided an area for differentiation and sales, it has become a headache for car makers as they try to keep up with consumer demands. Many now expect their car to be an extension of their smartphone and as a result, many new cars today contain over 10 million lines of software code. And this is only going to increase.

To meet the enormous demand for connected vehicle technologies from consumers, car-makers need to design ever-more flexible platforms that allow them to build in driving aids like the driver fatigue warning systems, entertainment and music-streaming digital services, real-time navigation capabilities and a range of safety services, as well unusual ‘entrants’ like dash-mounted video cameras. In addition there’s the ability to make mobile payments for auto-related expenditures. Car makers need also to put in place rigorous software development techniques to manage such complexity, balancing with the need of speed and flexibility to cope with the consumer electronics fast cycles

Accenture is seeing a growing trend for open platforms to allow car manufacturers to incorporate multiple technologies in their next range of cars. With this comes the need to redesign business processes and build new software solutions for mobile technology - both inside the vehicle and from the cloud.

But alongside these challenges is also emerging another range of opportunities. The growing ability to source data from vehicles will enable a range of new business-to-business and business-to-consumer digital services. For manufacturers, detailed data from vehicles could help them improve their engineering processes, reduce warranty costs and improve their relationships with dealers by helping dealers manage parts inventory and service.

Data sourced from vehicles could also be used to enable a portfolio of value-added B2C services, including vehicle diagnostics, driving dashboards and concierge services, delivered to drivers through multiple devices: a vehicle’s head unit, a driver’s smartphone and/or tablet.

Finally, the growth in digital technologies is also influencing the way that car makers manage demand for this next generation of connected vehicles. Social car shopping tools and even crowd funding for car purchases have started to emerge, where social media is being used to customize new cars. We will see a rapid increase in new digital strategies, digital technologies and digital processes by car makers as they seek to innovate, compete and expand as their customers seek out the next generation of connected vehicle services. Consumer technologies may be creating a headache for car makers but they also provide them with an opportunity to grow sales if they turn it to their advantage.

Posted by Marcello Tamietti, Accenture, who is discussing the connected vehicle industry at Mobile World Congress.