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The role of the car data marketplace for third-party mobility services

Developing applications and services for the connected car market can be a hard path to navigate. The car data marketplace is a platform that enables third-party mobility services to integrate with personalized car data, which then promotes these services to users whose driving and car-owning experiences can be dramatically improved by them.

Unlike mobile app developers who have marketplaces, such as Google Play and the Apple Store, and access to retrievable data from hand-held devices for their products, the connected car market is still finding its feet in terms of accessing personalized vehicle data with a customer’s consent, and promoting the available services to users.

The rise in third-party mobility services

When we talk about third-party mobility services, we are referring to applications that seek to assist or enhance the user’s experience of driving, riding in, charging or owning a vehicle. These applications might be built to work with a user’s phone or the cloud.

Carmakers themselves have created their own applications and services for their customers to use specifically within their own vehicles, but over the last five years we have seen a significant rise in mobility services designed and built by companies and developers who are not affiliated with carmakers. Essentially, these companies or individuals are external operators working independently with their own business plans and objectives and building their own user bases.

However, because of the nature of their services, these third parties require access to data from their users’ vehicles. Data such as a person’s driving style, vehicle model and location enables them to tailor the experience of using their service to that specific person. We can be sure that a tailored, personalized service is going to be far more valuable to a user than a generic one.

It’s for this reason that third-party mobility services need to make some sort of agreement with a carmaker. They must get access to the personalized data of the carmaker’s customers which they would otherwise not be privy to. Without this data, the applications they want to offer have significantly less value.

But how do third-party services work with multiple carmakers and car models simultaneously? This is where a car data marketplace comes in. Thanks to car data marketplaces, third parties no longer have to make separate agreements — or integrations — with multiple carmakers, but can instead offer their services to multiple users via a streamlined portal.

What is a car data marketplace?

A car data marketplace — also sometimes known as a vehicle data platform — works between the two parallel ecosystems of carmakers and developers and third-party operators. Essentially, the marketplace works as a data broker. A third-party service can request to connect to the vehicle data it needs to operate via the car data marketplace, which can check it for quality, relevance and security before verifying it to connect to vehicle data or suggesting improvements.

The car data marketplace can verify applications and services because it already has contracts in place with carmakers. In addition, the car data marketplace will have a marketplace API, which means third-party services only have to integrate once with this API to potentially connect with car data from multiple carmakers. Thanks to this API, third parties do not have to make different arrangements or technical integrations with numerous carmakers, or work with different hardware or software, saving significant amounts of time and potential complications.

Where do carmakers come in?

As we just mentioned, the carmakers will be working directly with the car data marketplace, not with the third-party services themselves. It will be the car data marketplace which negotiates individual contracts and costs with the carmakers.

All financial transactions go through the marketplace, which protects both sides and keeps everything transparent and fair. The marketplace is also where applications and services will be approved or rejected. If a service is approved, it will then connect to the car data. If the data does not connect, the team who built it will be offered advice on improving their offering to ensure future success.

The neutral server

But how do these things work from a technical perspective? For carmakers to share personalized car data from their customers with third-party mobility services, they need to use a neutral server.

The beauty of a neutral server is that it can enable third-party applications and services to have access to vehicle data without those third parties needing to come to their own unique agreement with a carmaker. It is an independent intermediary that is engaged by the OEMs, and not owned by them. These servers are neutral because they are not subsidiaries of the vehicle manufacturers, but instead wholly independent of them, both financially and operationally.

A neutral server enables more customer choice. Not only can car users work with a carmaker’s range of services, they can work with literally any other service provider they want. It frees up the movement of the third parties too, as they are no longer tied to one carmaker. With the neutral server, third parties they can access multiple carmakers with one simple integration.

The carmakers generally broker data to third parties within a specified and agreed scope, and the neutral server protects the direct visibility of third-party business models from carmakers. Another important feature of the neutral server is that it can provide compatibility between third-party services and carmakers that use different technology interfaces.

Certain companies provide API. For example, High Mobility provides a carmaker agnostic Auto API, which enables third parties to potentially work with any carmaker after a single integration, irrespective of the system it is using. This significantly

How do third party services connect to vehicle data?

The vehicle data market is still new, both for data providers and third parties. At this stage, what’s key is for third parties to figure out what kind of data they need from the vehicle. Is it personalized data that would be most valuable to their product? Or is anonymized data in bulk quantity for big data-related services that they are looking for? These third parties will also need to think about what their required data update rate is. Is once a day enough to inform their applications, or does it need a data update every five minutes to perform at its best?

Secondly, third parties need to know which providers are offering the specific vehicle data that they are looking for. In the current climate, different vehicle data platforms generally have different agreements with carmakers and several data product bundles or offerings for those looking to integrate data into their applications. It is worthwhile for third-party services to spend some time researching what these different product offerings consist of and their pricing in order to have a good understanding of which vehicle data marketplace is the right one for their product.

Another factor influencing whether an application or service may choose to access vehicle data via one car data marketplace over another is the type of integration tools which that vehicle data platform offers. These tools could be SDKs, a testing environment, vehicle emulators or tutorials. Some car data marketplaces may offer substantial technical support, while others may not. Depending on the needs and level of experience of the third-party service, these additional features will make some vehicle data platforms more attractive than others.

Finally, the pricing model used by the car data marketplace will affect how many developers and third-party services access data via that platform. Easy to understand and transparent pricing is likely more attractive to third parties who are wary of being caught out by unexpected or hidden costs. Small companies will also want to calculate their costs in advance and work out how these costs will grow as they increase the number of vehicles they connect to. A data marketplace that is transparent and clear about how its pricing works is likely to generate loyal and repeat customers.

When a third-party service has chosen which data marketplace it wishes to work with, it will then need to integrate with that marketplace’s standardized API. This standardized API will enable it to connect to multiple carmakers by seeking verification to connect to their customers’ vehicles. The integration of the marketplace’s API is likely to involve entering a data contract with that marketplace. Once that contract is signed, the third-party service should then be free to submit their applications to the many different carmakers who are also in an agreement with that marketplace.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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