The Automotive Industry Goes Driving in the Cloud

By Lindsey Patterson, Contributing Writer  |  September 15, 2016

The automotive industry has undergone some serious innovation as of late. Just a few of these innovations include the development of mobile broadband, cloud computing and location-awareness. Developments have even been made such that your car can now keep out of accidents by shutting it off and applying the brakes before you make contact with another car. It truly is mind-boggling just how connected our cars are.

In the past, Eileen Sweeney—VP and general manager of CSC (News - Alert) Manufacturing division—has said that “Car Companies have to problem solve for their customers, even before they're aware that they have such problems.” And the automotive industry has certainly stepped up to those demands with the development embedded software, integrated networks, and sensors.

All of these features have worked to improve the overall comfort, safety, and satisfaction of car buyers and cloud computing is just another in a long line of developments that the industry plans on further exploiting—to the customer's benefit. The chief appealing feature of cloud computing is its ability to drive down cost. In a rapidly growing worldwide market, IT application and infrastructure costs are essential considerations in producing a better quality product at cheaper prices. Car IT, like embedded software and location-aware software, are just a few of the many features that are now being exploited by the industry to drive down costs.

Car Insurance

Cloud computing technology can even assist drivers to attain reasonable auto coverage. Cloud computing has served the car insurance industry towards attaining data which can then be used to better gear insurance services towards the needs of the consumer. Data sheets and marketing reports in insurance firms all over the country are now using this to their—and their drivers’—advantage.

Car IT and Cybersecurity

Car IT includes all the embedded software and systems that control the engine, climate control, drivetrain, mobile communication, diagnostics, entertainment systems, and the security systems in the car. Also, it can include any after-market electronic devices brought to the car by the driver or any passenger. All of these Car IT technologies require the same sort of support and cause the same sorts of problems as any IT infrastructure, such as adherence to development and testing procedures, security and privacy issues, as well as patches and updates.

As technology rapidly expands and innovation reaches unprecedented heights, the growing demand for security and functionality in all these areas grows as well. As Jeff Fawcett, a cyber security consultant for CSC put it, “when you are designing systems for vehicles, you are outside any normal firewalls and IT infrastructure, so you have to them more self-defensible—treating them like you would any mobile network.” In other words, with new technology comes new problems—and new solutions will be required in responding to them.

Technology — Keeping It Customer Friendly

With that said, it really is an exciting time to be in the automotive industry. Technology that simply wasn't possible ten years ago is now taking the manufacturing of cars to new and very exciting heights. The trick will be, as the future unfolds, making sure to implement technologies in an integrated and planned way—doing this, first and foremost, by really listening to customers and their desires.

But, it is not just about developing technologies. It's about making the technology easily available to the customer as well. Christophe Droux, the Communication & Sales Promotion Manager at Volkswagen Group (France), recently reported on the remarkable feedback that he is getting from his clientele: “Our partners and customers really appreciate the fact that we've taken huge steps to appropriate these technological services in an intuitive and friendly manner and we've really seen that appreciation in our bottom line.” In other words, profits directly flow from companies seeking to bring technology to car buyers in a friendly manner. This will be especially true as cloud computing continues to develop at such an astonishing rate—as buyers may become increasingly unable to keep up with the overwhelming nature of our technology. 

Edited by Alicia Young