There’s a revolution taking place behind the wheel—and at CES this month (Las Vegas, January 9-12) it’s going to feature pretty heavily.

The PA who doesn’t mind hassle
For instance: at one time or another, pretty much everyone has experienced inconvenience and tension on a journey—which means that pretty much everyone has wished that someone, somewhere, could make it all simply go away.

The trouble is that problems don’t arise all at once. They catch us out along the way. So what are we going to do? Ring someone every few minutes and say “Guess what’s happened now? Please fix it?”

Of course we’re not.

But suppose we didn’t have to call someone. Suppose technology could fix these problems for us as they arise so we didn’t have to feel bad about hassling someone else. In fact, suppose technology actually recognized our predicament, anticipated our request, and suggested a solution before we even asked. Wouldn’t that be great?

Technology developed together by PSA, Prosodie-Capgemini and Amadeus makes this possible as you can see in this 90-second video. A man is driving to the airport. He’s held up in traffic. On-board systems suggest he use the valet service to save time. He agrees, and the system tells the satnav to reroute him to the valet. Later, he can avoid queues at hotel check-in by having his electronic key sent straight to his smartphone.

The car that’s no longer just a car
It’s a good example of the transformation currently taking place in cars. The more automated they become and the less they give the driver to do, the greater becomes the opportunity for product and service providers to develop apps that can vie for the attention of this captive audience.

For example:

  • As technology reduces the need for people to drive themselves, we’re seeing a shift from car ownership to on-demand mobility services, through a wide range of car rental, sharing, and pooling services.
  • If we’re in a car but we’re less actively engaged in driving it, it’s easier for advertisers, music services, social media service providers, and others to frame compelling offers for us.
  • Car manufacturers themselves can use technology to increase the value they deliver and hence increase the loyalty of their customers—for instance, by offering enhanced automotive services, by using technology to run fleet-based services, and by offering general goods and services to car occupants in the same way that, say, Amazon currently does.
  • Car manufacturers can also offer voice-controlled assistants.

The car is dead. Long live the car.
We often now hear predictions of the end of the privately-owned vehicle. When digital technology makes calling a cab or hiring a ride so simple, and when driverless cars aren’t so far off, why would anyone want to keep their own?

I wouldn’t myself be too quick to write off car ownership. Sure, we’ll see growth in on-demand mobility services (see above) but there’s also potential to merge the worlds of smartphones and driving.

In this merger, is smartphone tech sure to win? Not necessarily. After all, a smartphone can’t take you places. The potential of an increase in value is more with the car than it is with the phone.

Surely, that has to be a great branding opportunity for motor manufacturers?

This is a conversation I love having with people. If you’d like to talk, please get in touch with me here, or meet me at the IDEAN Suite at CES. Let’s see where cars can take us.