2019 – a great year for the automotive and transport industries!

March 5, 2019

HighMobility price screenThe automotive and transportation industries are both significant contributors to our urban and planet challenges. I have been focusing on these two industries for some years since I believe both can change relatively quickly thus become major contributors to our ability to meet the sustainability goals and stop ruin our planet. And even better, they can drive rapid change themselves without being forced by legislators which opens a classic opportunity for innovative players to gain massive brand equity. And this time it’s for a good cause and not just by adding features, design and marketing dollars.

This is a technology opportunity that is fundamentally IoT and data driven. IoT is used to connect vehicles, their users and owners, infrastructure like road signs, roads and parking space to the internet. Relevant data are collected from these devices and combined with data from other sources like car registries, weather data and road data bases. The data are carefully and responsibly made available through different standardised APIs to ecosystems with service providers like insurance, car pools, public transportation, parking, scooter services and taxi. And different initiatives, typically a city or an enterprise, chose an ecosystem for their efforts driving the shift from very inefficient use of personal vehicles to shared services with many times better utilisation of the resources. This is true both for transportation of people and goods.

The often used term for the ultimate solution is Mobility-as-a-Service or MaaS, which have been talked about for many years. But up until now we have rather seen more vehicles on the streets and roads than better utilisation of the ones we already have. Car sharing services have been rolled out fighting for the same few parking lots and adding up to the jam already in place. And in many cases they already have been shut down like Autolib in Paris and in Stockholm car2go and DriveNow. Connected bicycles and scooters have been added and in some cases also already been shut down or stopped by city authorities. An average car in a city around the world is used around 3-4% of the time which obviously is massive waste of space, money and the planet.

I believe 2019 will be a great year for the transportation and automotive industries! This will be the year when the car makers start share the real-life car data they collect with third-party developers in real-time. There are probably many reasons for why this happen now but I chose to be believe it is because they have concluded that is a great way to drive change in their industry and that innovative car makers following this trend will gain a lot of Brand Equity and commercial success. In order to develop services across brands and models a “neutral server” is needed to add a standardised layer on top of the proprietary car data. Some companies have come quite far with that already and my personal favourite is High Mobility who work closely with some of the German car makers. They already have som data from Daimler, BMW and Mini available and I believe these first movers will make the other follow quickly and due to the transparency which data is made available and pricing, will become harmonised rapidly. At Tantalum (acquired Springworks recently) where I work, we have been waiting for this to happen and are already working on how to turn the data released into true value for service providers and cities as well as the users and owners of the vehicles.

The second major thing that will happen in the mobility market 2019 is that we finally will see the first mobility ecosystems being launched. This will lead to more data-driven innovation in the mobility market but more importantly the first limited Mobility-as-a-Service offerings being launched. I am involved in discussions with cities who are eager to see MaaS services in their cities as well as enterprises who want to offer their employees MaaS services instead of combinations of company cars, rental cars, public transportation and taxi. In both cases they are going after commercial benefits and to position themselves as doers when it comes to the sustainability challenges and corporate responsibility. The first ones will typically solve the easier parts of a MaaS service like integration of public transportation and parking services but the real challenges are to integrate cars, busses and trucks in the services which is why we at Tantalum started there. An event to recognise is the recent joint Daimler and BMW announcement about combining several vehicle related services including myTaxi, car2go and DriveNow under one umbrella. But there are many other activities in this field and I hope all cities in the world start working seriously on this now. Every single success here will make us all winners!


The power of making aware

June 1, 2017

It’s common wisdom that what you measure becomes important. That’s how we humans work. A clock makes you focus on time and so on. I consider myself a good driver having been driving 39 years without serious accidents and only a few speed tickets. When my kids practiced for driving license I heard about eco driving and thought that was a great initiative for the youngsters.

In November last year I signed up for the TeliaSense service which promised an easier car ownership through innovative services and features accessible from a nice app. I opted in to an annual inspection service from Bilprovningen, a maintenance service from Bilia and a road side assistance service from Viking which added good value to the car related services and Wi-Fi already in the app. Then in February I got a message that Eco Driving was added to the app and I immediately took a look more out of curiosity than to verify my superior driving skills. What! A big red and angry smiley starring at me! And in that moment I painfully recalled all the times my wife have told me that I’m driving aggressively.
From that day I have looked at the coloured smileys every single day. And guess what, it has changed my driving habits a lot.
I am amazed over my own behaviour! Yes I am a fighter and hate to lose but I would never have guessed that it would take me three months to become a better driver for my wife, my fellow drivers on the road and most importantly for the planet just because my driving was measured from an eco driving point of view and presented in my face.
I have also been presented statistics about what happens to people’s electricity consumption when their consumption is visualised to them and believe visualising individualised behaviour is a really good way to create value from IoT.
I’m working with Springworks who deliver this unique connected car service country by country together with mobile operators like Telia and it feels really good to see all work we do become something as meaningful as this!

Autonomous cars not around the corner

April 26, 2017

KITT_Knight_Rider2The car industry has its challenges. From being the ultimate provider of freedom, personal transportation and quality of life it now is supposed to solve the safety and sustainability issues it created. The very complicated and expensive cars of today are not utilised enough (5,5% according to my TeliaSense app), consume too much space, cause a lot of accidents and impact our planet badly when produced, used and discarded. It’s easy to suggest public transportation as an alternative but as soon as leaving the urban areas that is falling short. Intuitively the solution would include new ways of owning and using cars, electrical engines, even more safety features and cross-industry innovation within the car eco system. And since we can’t wait 10-15 years the cars already on the road must be included at least to some degree.

With this in mind I find today’s focus on self driving cars strange. We have continuous safety improvements in new cars, they are connected and loaded with sensors and most manufacturers have electric engines in some models. Also cars on the roads are being connected using the OBD port and offered services from the car eco-systems. But autonomous cars is what the industry, media and strangely enough IT companies are talking most about. I understand that manufacturers work on self driving cars since it’s a very complex challenge which will take many years to sort out, and it will bring continuous innovation to the cars down the road. But why talking so much about it already today? The technical challenges are big but not what will determine how soon we will see self-driving cars on the road. It’s culture, law and policies!

Take a look at airplanes. They are very complicated to make and fly but self-flying planes are here or at least around the corner depending on definitions. So are we ready for choosing flights with or without pilots? And which one would be cheaper? Imagine the first autonomous car running over a person or two in US, and what the penalties will do to the car maker involved. Some people argue we will have new infrastructure for self driving cars. But with new infrastructure I guess we could be more innovative than making cars without steering wheel.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) classification for autonomous cars has six levels, from none (Level 0) to fully automated systems (Level 5). Level 3 is a vehicle in which within known, limited environments (such as freeways), the driver can safely turn their attention away from driving tasks, but must still be prepared to take control when needed. Berg Insight estimates registrations of 16,5M new Level 3 cars and 7,8M new Level 4 cars and no fully autonomous ones (Level 5) 2030.

I’m sure we can make very good but not perfect self-driving vehicles a couple of years from now but can’t see them being used on public roads for many years, unless very limited in speed. There has been some early progress when it comes to regulation here and there but I haven’t seen any progress in the field of liability yet. And I guess a generation or two of drivers will probably have to disappear from the roads before it happens.


Respect!

December 10, 2016

volvo-productionTechnology driven innovation continues to challenge and change our world. Internet is the single most important enabler and the last big thing is the smart phone, which gave us new ways of using the Internet including apps. The iPhone is about 10 years old now and it’s time for the next big thing: connecting things to Internet, where we already have people, organisations and services. This will once again change lives, organisations, industries, companies, cities and governments in the same way and magnitude that the arrival of Internet made last time. But this time it will happen much faster since most of the bits and pieces already are in place. We call this IoT right now but soon it will just be Internet again. 

I always think that everything is a science. Regardless of what you look into in more details, it proves to be very complicated. I love the massive opportunities Internet brought and believe these will be even bigger now when we add things to it. But Internet has created a trend which I dislike: by leaving out the physical part of the equation (like running a taxi business without taxis or hotel business without hotels) we are dependent on others doing the hard “physical” part which is connected to places, people, boarders, re-cycling, communities, manufacturing etc. Not that there is anything wrong with entrepreneurs executing on these opportunities, not at all, but we all have to think a little further before celebrating or investing in these initiatives. I see a whole range of challenges, including the vulnerability of these businesses when it comes to policymakers and not the least when the incentives to provide the underlying activities or assets disappear. The Internet part alone also tends to become global leaving only one or few companies in the market (Facebook, Twitter, Google…). Put differently, we simply have to think about the type of society we want to live in.

With Internet of Things this becomes quite obvious. Data is the gold of IoT and a lot of companies are focusing on building business on that data. But without anyone connecting the things, the T in IoT, there will be no data. And when companies make the effort, I don’t think it is obvious that they will share all their gold with anyone anyway. At least not for free. On top of that I’m convinced human beings as well as organisations will become much more cautious with their data and how it is shared and used. Security and privacy are the two big challenges to IoT!

Another dimension of this is that the opportunity to disrupt using Internet has made a lot of people completely lose the respect for the underlying assets or activities. A good example of that is all IT/Internet companies announcing plans to build a car. There is nothing wrong with that, if you have funds to buy all skills and other assets it takes. But I have still to see a car manufacturer announcing that they will start make fridges, shoes, smartphones or Internet search engines. Maybe traditional companies have more respect for the complexity of other industries. 

I believe we all would benefit from a little bit more respect for how difficult it actually is to do different things. A hackathon with youngsters to innovate healthcare over a weekend is great education and fun but makes no sense from a healthcare point of view. An app to keep track on parking spaces is easy to do compared to building the infrastructure to provide all the information needed. The how of IoT is about collaboration and eco-systems, where all relevant players have an important role bringing their experience and know-how to the solution.


Ecosystems is the new HOW in IoT

November 13, 2016

br-internet-of-things-ecosystemAll IoT solutions span at least three industries – collection of data (sensors, gateways, datacom, telecom, etc), managing data (cleaning, matching, analysing, combining, etc), distributing information (IoT value is created when a piece of wanted data is delivered to the right place at the right time, i.e. apps, signs, ERP systems, warning lamps, etc). In the early days of IoT clever people were able to put together all these things to solve a specific problem for a customer or even a number of customers in similar situation. The problem is that any single piece in an IoT solution is quite complicated, so in order to make a really good solution all bits and pieces need to be top-notch. If you need a CO2 sensor you will have to turn to someone who offers the right functionality, quality and price for you solution, at any given time. If you need to have the wanted information from your solution delivered in an app, you need to provide your customer with a top notch app with great UX at any given time. If not your entire solution will look bad in the eyes of the users, even if it’s actually the best one in the market.

The IoT market develops very fast and complete solutions from one vendor, often with a couple of years success behind, are now meeting stiff competition from solutions created by several companies in tight collaboration. These ecosystems are collaborating to provide the best possible solution to industries, applications and customer segments and like if it wasn’t bad enough for the “early stars”, these ecosystems are adapting much faster to customer needs, technical development, legal requirements, policies and trends due to their combined resource.
I don’t believe single companies, industry groups, alliances or standard bodies will determine how IoT will be deployed in different markets or applications. I believe successful ecosystems will. Ecosystems is simply the new how in IoT.

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