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Your car called, and it has a lot to say

Data is enabling machines to tell us a story about their daily lives — but are we listening?

As consumers, we fully expect our devices to be reliable and always available, to match our always-on lives. When something fails, it’s human nature to become frustrated even when you knew it was time for a visit to the mechanic, but put off booking an appointment.

Needless to say, these failures will happen. Cars are likely one of the most technologically sophisticated devices we own. But with such sophistication comes complexity, and therefore frustration when things go awry. Imagine if your car could not only predict an issue, but also begin to resolve the issue by booking itself an appointment for service, requesting a technician to come to your home to take a look, or driving itself to the garage or charging station.

Data right in your own driveway

Digital industrial transformation is opening up new capabilities for automakers to transform old business models into new service offerings and empower decision-makers with real-time visibility and deep operational intelligence. In fact, the automotive industry is even remaking its image into “the mobility industry,” marketing beyond the act of driving. We’ve seen Ford rebrand itself in this way, positioning the company to compete in the new world of autonomous vehicles, Uber and Lyft.

While we don’t think these advancements will kill the traditional garage, we foresee that in the future, more complex and increasingly digital repairs will take place in a person’s own driveway by the hands of a mechanic who has all the information at the tips of his or her fingers, as one does in other industries.

And lucky for drivers, the future is now. Applying the power of advanced predictive analytics to a car’s existing onboard diagnostics makes it possible for providers to bring together connected vehicles directly to the spare parts suppliers and take the repair and service provisions up a notch.

To meet the needs of such advancements, asset performance management, which powers data analytics across all machines and equipment in the auto industry, will evolve with new technology developments to provide critical information on machine health and performance. These advanced analytics make way for technicians to address a wider, newer array of issues and complications. It’s a balance, though. Automakers have to constantly weigh the ever-increasing consumer demand for more options, variety, performance and quality with lower costs and regulatory requirements from governments around the globe. But judging by the direction things are headed, we may even one day be able to use this connectivity to allow engineers to 3D print auto parts on the spot, instead of waiting the dreaded weeks it takes for that spare part to be delivered.

The unknown complexity of common objects

It’s imperative that the huge volume of data being created by connected cars can be rapidly analyzed so that development insights and strategic recommendations can be directed to manufacturers and suppliers across the automotive value chain.

Tires, for example, are now part of this connected ecosystem and decision-making process. What likely comes to mind is the traditional image of a round, functional car part, but in reality there’s so much more that goes into their production. The interpretation and visualization of the multitude of data for these complex processes requires highly intelligent tools.

Worldwide tire giant Pirelli does this well. Each product run ends with a visual inspection which, like its fully automated measurements check, is captured in the tire’s individual documentation. On a single production day, there could be several million tidbits of information generated from product documentation alone, including its entire history of origin, the raw materials used, quality information and the process parameters applied in the construction process.

Beyond individual car components, GM’s OnStar, which is going on 20 years of service, connects each component with the occupant and service providers. Now the company is advancing the IoT field with more sophisticated sensors to drive continuous operational and occupant data into the cloud for performance analysis and predictive maintenance. This goes to show that the whole lifecycle of the product we own has a story that can now be recorded through computing devices and put to use for all users who interact with the vehicle.

You can thank consumers with a taste for new technology and expectations for better performance, quality and options in vehicles of today and tomorrow. Eventually, they will be the ones who ultimately decide if they want to drive or have the vehicle itself take the wheel.

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