Cars today don’t just carry you where you want to go. They inform you about the weather, bring you to unfamiliar places and remind you about maintenance. They entertain you and your passengers with state of the art sound and video systems, a coffee tray conveniently angled under your elbow. Cars today are a mobile extension of your living room. Cars tomorrow will be that and more. By becoming an extension of your office, they can be the workplace of the future and key players in the internet of things.
Pete Graham, Director of Finance Solutions and Mobility at SAP, describes how the auto world is going mobile. He imagines a day where a sales rep could drive in a connected Porsche on the way to a customer meeting. A BlackBerry PlayBook is integrated with the car’s electronic systems, navigating the long drive and rerouting when a traffic jam builds on a bridge ahead. On the way, the rep might decide to check some data before the meeting. Hands free, the rep accesses his SAP CRM app and SAP Finance app in the BlackBerry PlayBook using the vehicle’s integrated microphones and speakers. The rep can review current orders, check outstanding invoices and payments. When parked, bring up charts illustrating the inventory. The rep might notice issues with their stock, reinforcing the case on the deal they want to close. ”When you leave the car, none of that important information is left behind,” said Graham. “Your SAP CRM and SAP Finance apps are right there on your mobile device, so you can easily access the data any time during the meeting. Before you know it, you’re back on the road listening to your favorite tunes.”
Companies that are building, equipping and enabling cars that are connected to the things around them show visionary leadership. While mass produced automobiles have dramatically enhanced our personal mobility and helped us realize aspirations for growth and prosperity, they’ve also contributed to some of the greatest problems we face today. In our quest for personal mobility, we’ve damaged our environment and consumed vast quantities of natural resources. Two years ago, the MIT Press published a book called “Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Mobility for the 21st Century” that explains how the connected car could help repair that damage and provide a sustainable alternative. It would take four big changes, but the technology for all of them is already available: a new automotive DNA based on electronics and connectivity, a mobility internet to manage vast amounts of vehicle traffic and integrate vehicles into the internet of things, smart, clean renewable electric energy, and last but not least, it would require electronically managed, dynamically priced markets for electricity, roads, parking and vehicles, in other words, smart cities. If business and government and society act together, change is possible.
Sanjay Poonen, President and Corporate Officer responsible for SAP Global Solutions and the head of the Mobile Division, sees unique opportunities for SAP and its customers to drive change. He believes the auto industry is moving away from historical, purpose built, closed systems to connected, open standards based platforms. This represents incremental revenue for multiple industries as there’s no end to what can be consumed in a car. The future of screen technology, for example, depends on electronics ready, specialty glass for automotive dashboard displays such as those in development at Corning. “SAP is connecting the dots for many industries as they look to transform their own businesses to leverage a new frontier of mobile connected computing,” said Poonen. “Connected cars are really just huge moving sensors. Our strength is our ability to help manage, extrapolate and analyze all of the data generated by this new technology.”
Judith Magyar, Executive Office, Product GTM and Mobile Division, SAP