The research firm IHS Automotive expects that, in 2022, nearly 98% of all cars sold around the world will be connected to the Internet. That represents an enormous opportunity for IT vendors and their channel partners. Solution providers are the eyes and ears for vendors that want to provide what customers are asking for, rather than force-feed them a product that has been developed in a vacuum.
Telematics are a great example of a class of product that initially gained visibility and popularity through drivers, i.e., consumers. Connected cars offered to ease the hassle of misplaced keys via remote unlocking systems, for example, and to provide assistance in the event of an accident via automated GPS tracking. So the public is driving the market in many ways (excuse the pun). These products solve customers’ problems; they answer a need.
Advances in wireless technology has really enabled the market to grow and meet customers’ expectations of what the in-car experience should provide. (In fact, last month, LG Electronics and Intel announced that they are partnering to create and pilot the next generation of wireless technology for automobiles, 5G-based telematics technology.) That is different, of course, from what it actually could or can provide right now. Customers do not always know the limitations of technology, and while that can lead to some real inspiration, it can also lead to unrealistic expectations. Solution providers can provide customers realistic answers while nurturing that sense of innovation. And they can relay that customer information directly to the vendor for future product development.
The customer is not just accepting the technology but is actively using it, and, therefore, has a unique knowledge base, which can help vendors in developing products. Discovering how the technology is being used in an intelligent vehicle, for example, encompasses learning:
- What are the most used systems?
- Who is using them?
- What are the top five “care abouts” from customers?
The “best” friend a solution provider can make is the product manager. Product managers are eager to learn through the filter of a trusted channel partner exactly how the customer is using the product, and how that might be improved. Solution providers invited into the early discussions of product development can provide that insight, which will shape not only the new device’s attributes but its marketing as well.
Channel partners that take the initiative with vendors and share their knowledge will earn that seat at development discussions. Those types of sit-down meetings address what products are selling and why — and what future solutions they could be a part of.
And those future solutions are key to a solid bottom line.