What Are Connected Cars and Why Should You Care?

December 7, 2015 Jiordan Castle

connected cars

In the auto world, we’ve come a long way from cassette decks and roll-up windows. The newest cars on the market  are fully entrenched in the Internet of Things (IoT), and equipped with smartphone compatibility; namely, apps that can unlock your car, find it in a crowded parking lot, and much, much more. Their capabilities go far beyond the formerly impressive back-up cameras and keyless ignition systems of yesterday. Here we’ll delve into recent innovations and talk specifics about the future of connected cars.

What are connected cars?

Connected cars are equipped with internet access and are usually connected to a wireless local area network (WLAN), so they can connect to devices inside and outside of the car via shared internet. What that looks like: most connected cars built in the last ~5 years have an in-dash system; essentially, a touchscreen with controls the driver can use for different things, such as: navigation, playing music, engine controls, diagnostic features, and an array of smartphone-friendly apps.

Aside from the obvious coolness associated with a technologically savvy car, the 2 major benefits are safety and efficiency. For instance, a connected car can provide drivers with safety alerts like real-time crash-related holdups on the highway or let an electric car driver check their battery capacity. Connected cars have many of the same creature comforts as our smartphones, and even with the same high-quality connectivity. Last year, the Audi A3 became the first 4G LTE connected car in the U.S. That kind of connectivity aims to revolutionize not only how we get from place to place, but also car safety and efficiency on a global level.

Key benefits of connected cars

Fortunately for drivers in America, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is particularly invested in helping people survive crashes. The USDOT tells us that connected cars will provide people with the tools to avoid crashes, among other things, including:

  • Reducing traffic. In 2010 alone, U.S. highway users wasted nearly 5 billion hours stuck in traffic — almost an entire work week for every driver. Connected car apps can help drivers and system operators significantly reduce traffic delays.
  • Reducing fuel waste. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the total amount of wasted fuel was nearly 2 billion gallons in 2010. Thanks to their ability to provide real-time car and traffic information to drivers, connected cars will also be able to reduce fuel waste across the country.

Toyota Friend, a next-generation social network

Five years ago, Salesforce gave us Chatter, an enterprise social network, which does everything from making real-time customer data available and shareable to enabling coworkers to post photos of their dogs to a clean, customizable newsfeed. They’ve done something similar, yet all the more groundbreaking (after all, we’re talking about technologically advanced cars here), with Toyota. With Toyota Friend, which was modeled after Salesforce Chatter, Toyota owners can interact with other Toyota owners, dealerships, the manufacturer — even their own cars. And Toyota Friend does much more than help drivers socialize; it can prompt owners to recharge their electric car’s batteries, deliver timely service information, and even allow Toyota owners to post to public social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

And that’s just the Customer Experience side of things. Much like the newfangled Toyota Friend, Chatter itself also enables thousands of Toyota workers to interact in real time anywhere in the world — in over 170 countries. When workers are empowered with access to customer data and cross-functional knowledge sharing, they’re more engaged and can deliver a better Customer Experience.

Salesforce IoT Cloud and the future of connected cars

Today’s connected cars provide customer alerts (like recall campaigns), in-car tech support, car health monitoring (like service light warnings), and risk assessment (like real-time accident reports). But just as our smartphones have become vehicles of buying and selling, tomorrow’s actual vehicles look to provide targeted service, sales, and marketing. Salesforce IoT Cloud — which was announced last September and runs on Salesforce Thunder, the world’s most scalable event processing engine — may well be the cloud that reinvents Customer Experience.

IoT Cloud is capable of handling billions of events in real time, a necessity for massive amounts of car and user data. With IoT Cloud, a connected car driver could connect to their CRM system by way of multiple devices like an in-car sensor or their smartphone, and the car itself could even alert the CRM system to potential problems like a faulty part. This connectivity could even prompt the ordering of a new part or schedule an appointment to have the part repaired — all without having to inform (or alarm) the driver. With the progression of connected cars, Customer Experience won’t just be personalized; it’ll be proactive.

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