But the AI breakthrough isn’t the only new trend on our prediction list for 2018. For the wider industry, we expect to see the following:
CARS GET SMARTER
Smarter cars also enable new digital services around prediction. “Predictive parking,” for example, will enable connected cars to extrapolate where the next free parking space will be when you arrive at your destination. And “predictive vehicle maintenance” will turn the entire after sales business on its head.
After sales will go from interval-based—a new Cam Belt every 60.000 kilometers—to needs-based: The car will predict when a part will fail, and then book a maintenance slot with a repair shop, and order the spare parts—all by itself.
We’ll even see "self-configuring cars" very soon—vehicles that can predict driver preferences, weather and road conditions, and tweak their configuration—like suspension settings—accordingly.
A PASSWORD FOR YOUR CAR
With so many services becoming available—and with AIs needing ways to be able to learn more about drivers and their preferences—a well-known digital service will finally come to our cars as well: digital identity management or, in other words, a user account and password for your car.
User authentication will be critical here—for personalization, services like media or e-mail, and, of course, payment. Some OEMs like Daimler have already put forth plans to build identity management solutions.
EVEN MORE IOT & CLOUD
When it comes to industry digitization and the IoT, automakers tend to be far ahead of other manufacturers. But that doesn’t mean that they’re all set already. OEMs will continue investing in IoT and cloud technology capabilities, for example in areas like supply chain management and IT.
It’s all about agile: The more connected cars become, the more high-performing and agile a manufacturers IT infrastructure must become. All the OEMs know this, and all of them are investing in cloud infrastructure to solve for higher agility, lower cost and the capability to manage demand fluctuations.
ANALYTICS AT THE EDGE
Another area where OEMs will step up their already existing game is analytics: Be it in the plant, in cars or in marketing and sales—capabilities around extracting value from large amounts of data are key, and are still being built.
Edge analytics—the capability of embedding analytics routines in routers and other edge devices within machines or cars—has really just started. But since you can’t have self-optimizing machinery or self-driving cars without it, edge analytics will take pole position in 2018.
ROBOTS IN THE BACKOFFICE
All their analytics and AI prowess will also help OEMs streamline and automate many parts of their businesses, especially in areas like finance, HR, marketing and sales, or even customer service.
In fact, according to our recent research, AI could bring as much as a 39 percent productivity boost to the manufacturing section.
AI-enabled automation can streamline many kinds of repetitive tasks we will certainly see more of that in 2018.
AUGMENTED REALITY EVERYWHERE
Virtual reality will very much stay where it currently is—the technology has its uses, but augmented and mixed-reality have proven much more useful. We will see even more AR use cases in construction, engineering, marketing and maybe even next-gen heads-up displays in cars.
The shift to more AR will boost the rise of another somewhat new technology called digital twins or virtual 3D representations of physical products.
Soon, every car that leaves a factory will come with such a digital copy.
BLOCKCHAIN MAKES AN ENTRANCE
With so much more connectivity and software entering cars and car makers’ organizations, both IT and data security become an even more pressing concern. Fortunately, there’s another technology that might help with that. Blockchain, the encryption solution using public “ledgers” to secure digital payments, might very soon be used to authenticate drivers, cars and car parts, data transmissions, and other parts of the digital puzzle that is the “digitized” auto industry.
There’s a plethora of use cases, from supply chain management to car sharing interactions to preventing odometer fraud and both OEMs and suppliers are already embracing most of them.
FULLY SELF DRIVING? NOT YET…
While progress in self-driving technology will be made in the next twelve months, the breakthrough to fully autonomous cars—or “level five” autonomous driving—will not come in 2018. We’ll see level two and, maybe, level three features coming to premium vehicles in the next twelve months, like self-parking capabilities or traffic jam assistants.
There are still numerous technical challenges preventing us from reaching higher levels, and then there’s regulation: In most countries drivers will not even be allowed to use the level three features which they might get in their new cars.
We view 2018 as the year for the Connected Car—but the self-driving one will have to wait…