Digital transformation is becoming a bit of a cliché in many circles. Change happens. And often it’s digital, there or thereabouts, but it’s hardly heart-stopping or revolutionary.

But, when it comes to automotive brands, digital is likely to cause a fundamental shift in how society sees the car.

The high road to digital transformation
Many (although not all) surveys claim the next generation of would-be drivers don’t necessarily want the commitment of owning or even driving a vehicle at all – they want mobility but they prefer the convenience, the extra time and space.

Because digital lifestyle is all about convenience: the convenience of always being connected, wherever you go. This represents a societal shift that, ultimately, will result in mass-market autonomous vehicles. And it is likely to be the battleground for automotive brand differentiation on a grand scale – and a shift from the car as a product to the car as a service.

This is where approaches such as Digital Cockpit come in to play, providing an enhanced human machine interface (HMI) to build up an individual relationship between driver and car.

The car as your companion
The Digital Cockpit establishes a logical, incremental environment tailor-made for the digital generation. How? By connecting with and adapting to each driver as an individual user profile, integrating the driver’s digital self into the driving experience with augmented navigation, advanced driving assistance, personalized entertainment, and on-demand digital service options.

With this in place a close and trusted relationship can be built between the individual and their vehicle. For example, pre-emptively suggesting a good stop-over to avoid the worst weather or traffic conditions on a journey. And with advances in machine learning, the connected car remembers and applies an individual’s preferred comfort settings, whichever vehicle they are in.

Driving the digital ecosystem
With all this coming together, the car is becoming a truly smart platform, a secure and effective hub for a large and diverse ecosystem of connected digital services. This is an important step in establishing the connected car as the keystone of the automotive service economy.

The fuel for this is data. The wealth of insight created every mile by a connected car is where brand value can be added to every interaction between driver and car – for making them safer, more comfortable, more connected, and simply more convenient.

The connected car flags upcoming hazards on the roadway and displays on the windshield where each driver tends to look. The car is learning how a driver drives, feeding them the information they need and want in the way they want it. This intuitive and engaging delivery of information continues to build trust in HMI and will lay the foundations for effective intervention between vehicle and person at level 3/4 autonomous driving.



Hitting the road together
Underpinning both the concept of the car as a companion and the reality of the digital ecosystem is collaboration. This is part of the digital, connected car trend that is most important for automotives to grasp.

The service-led environment of the connected car requires faster time-to-market and flexibility to adapt to the latest consumer trends. This requires forging the right cross-industry alliances to easily attain expertise in diverse areas ranging from as application development and security on the one hand to augmented reality and mobile payments on the other.

Partners can build apps for new services to be incorporated into existing connected cars – the ‘product’ is no longer king. The new power for automotive brands lies in the depth and breadth of service capability their vehicles can provide.

Manufacturers cannot be locked into one hardware architecture to achieve this. Freedom and scalability are key to continue adding value from across the digital ecosystem. Open source and shared platform development are the next step.

One for the road
The shift to a truly connected vehicle and on to a truly driverless vehicle (level 5 on the autonomous scale) is happening – and happening fast. Approaches such as Digital Cockpit will make widespread commercial buy-in to autonomous vehicles viable. They will also establish the foundations to build further service capabilities – at each step along the road to complete autonomy. Once the handover scenario from driver to vehicle is perfected, the next challenge is developing the urban infrastructure that can maximize the value of autonomous vehicles.

Find out more about how Luxoft can help you on your way to digitally realized brand differentiation with Digital Cockpit and HMI, including a discussion on future vehicle concepts and expert analysis on the latest trends in automotive IT.
Alexander Diebald