data, data monetization, automotive, automotive supplier, disruption, electric car

Today, most organizations understand the four main areas of technology disruption impacting the automotive industry; electrification, autonomous vehicles, connectivity, and shared mobility (also known as ACES). I am now going to introduce the fifth element of disruption – data monetization – and explain the impact that it will have on the supplier model.

As significant technology shifts in the automotive industry approach, it is becoming increasingly difficult for suppliers to find footholds in the new market. Some have already begun the process of looking for buyers to take over and wind down operations; others seek new in-roads and ways to break ground. One of the more popular and fast-growing areas of supplier activity has been software — both its development and management — however, I believe there’s an opportunity for suppliers to take it further. This automotive supplier business model is evolving quickly from just software to data that can be monetized and has the potential to create significant competitive barriers.

Supplier Software Business Model Types

The current landscape of supplier software business models comprises four major types: monetizing hardware, contracted services, software licensing and subscriptions. Aptiv is an excellent example of the hardware supplier model: they are giving their radar software away for free and merely monetizing the hardware needed to run it. As for contracted services, Elektrobit or KPIT are great examples; Apple’s CarPlay is an example of the software licensing model. Finally, companies like HERE Technologies are capitalizing on the increasingly popular subscription model, charging customers an ongoing fee in exchange for HD Maps that are consistently updated, which will be critical for autonomous driving.  

With the influx of new software and hardware in vehicles, however, comes an influx of data. The cars that are designed and produced these days are already providing exponentially more data than they were 10 years ago; soon, data production will be at 4K GB per day. This is information being created, processed, and output by components associated with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, like ultrasonic, radar, cameras, GPS and lidar systems. This is no paltry amount of data, so the question is — what’s being done with it all and what is it worth?

How is Data Being Used to Support Supplier Software Business Models?

At its most basic level, the data is, of course, used for these advanced safety systems. Cameras and radar use data to identify a vehicle’s location — relative to other objects — in its lane, providing signals to the car if something is an obstacle or at an unsafe distance. 

This valuable data is necessary for autonomous driving and used to determine maneuvers for lane changes or safe road exit features. These sensors can also use this data to monitor real-time driving conditions such as weather, traffic, construction and more. And this is just the beginning of the use cases for this information.  

Companies of all types — app developers, insurance companies, city planners, tech companies, automakers, and countless emerging companies — can put this mass amount of data to good use, and are willing to pay for it. There are buyers for the maps produced by today’s vehicles; for example, buyers attracted to the scalability and quality of the data. Maps created with this technology are in HD and have an ultra-high, real-time refresh rate, which is a critical and coveted feature in increasingly electrified vehicles. 

This “localization data,” as known, is also extremely valuable to autonomous L2, L3, and L4 vehicle manufacturers and these vehicles’ operation. The most challenging routes to navigate are made clear with localization data: areas without lane markings, like back roads or new pavement, routes with poor weather conditions, and the range and visibility on very sharp curves. The data makes it easier to fine-tune the software behind modern mapping systems – in a more cost-effective manner. 

Finally, there’s a considerable market outside of the automotive industry for the data being output by modern vehicles: cities. Cities are investing in modernizing their transportation and infrastructure. They are eager for real-time localization data; it provides insight into traffic and pedestrian patterns that inform city planning, and it also helps build a foundation for future autonomous public transit programs.

How is Data Disrupting Suppliers?

Now let me explain how this disrupts the supplier business model. Suppliers like Mobileye (which develops vision algorithms) along with Aptiv and Bosch (known for radar systems, in this case) are starting to provide deep price discounts to automakers who allow them to capture and sell the sensor data. These organizations then sell this data to the HD mapping companies, who then package and sell the data in real-time subscriptions to automakers and consumers. The same goes for other players in this market: they are acting as middle-men and brokering data exchanges between vehicles and data buyers – including the manufacturers of the vehicles they’re collecting the data from in the first place.

This is why Bosch has established a partnership with TomTom and is an investor in HERE Technologies. These organizations don’t only focus on a one-time product sale to the OEM. They now generate additional revenue streams by selling the data to third parties, whether it be for HD maps, fleet monitoring, or to city planners, on a subscription basis. It goes to show that companies who can produce and monetize this data have a chance to create their competitive edge over suppliers who cannot or will not build the infrastructure to do so and leverage these new revenue streams. 

The suppliers who can consider jumping in on this as soon as possible, because data monetization is quickly becoming a serious contender alongside the familiar supplier business models. With internal combustion engine vehicles continuing to fade and electric, autonomous cars becoming harbingers of the new future, it will only become more difficult for traditional suppliers to gain and maintain the competitive edge needed to survive the technological shift the perfect time to act.