The vast amounts of information collected by the vehicle and driver are used by the BMW Group to improve safety and comfort. Great care is taken in the use of this data when it comes to customer privacy.
- Adriano Sack
Every car nowadays is capable of gathering data: information on traffic density, atmospheric humidity, visibility, microclimates and the density of data networks is continuously monitored. These days, data is the most coveted of raw materials. Unlike mineral resources, however, it is not mined and therefore does not diminish in quantity. Instead, increasing digitalisation is creating an ever-growing mountain of information. Estimates put the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things at 15 billion, with that figure set to rise to around 50 billion by 2020, according to the American IT specialists Cisco.
Having access to this data and knowing how to utilise it not only means being able to explore and improve the traffic infrastructure, as indicated in the chapter “The BMW Group will be an urban planner.” It also allows you to optimise products and develop new ones tailored to consumer habits and the needs they imply. In other words, data is money.
The avenues for using data constructively and for the good of customers are many and varied.
One scenario that would certainly not be welcomed by the car industry is this: the traditional manufacturers build the bodies and dashboards, but the customer data is controlled by the internet giants – who might just create a super-smooth, Amazon-style, in-car commercial platform that customers can log onto.
For the good of customers
It is therefore vital for the data to be managed by the BMW Group and to be handled with the utmost confidentiality. Customers must be convinced that the collecting of data benefits them personally. For example, BMW has since 2015 been involved in Life360, a smartphone app with location-based technology that brings together groups and families. When a user is on the way home, the heating in the house is turned up in preparation. And if the bus that the user’s daughter needs to catch to her riding lesson has been cancelled, it is replaced by a driver service. Increasingly, vehicles are also able to register the driver’s biorhythm and mood and adjust the ambience inside the car accordingly. The avenues for using data constructively and for the good of customers are many and varied, and more possibilities are popping up on the radar every day.
This intimacy naturally raises questions of data security and privacy. Not everyone will be happy that a low insurance premium is partly based on the extent to which their car is allowed to monitor their behaviour and share this information. Traditionally, Germans would react more sensitively to this than other nationalities. And there is also the psychologically important question of whether you are still in charge of your own car.
One of the challenges for the BMW Group is therefore to use every available possibility to make its products more comfortable, safer and more personalised and at the same time to guarantee absolute security when it comes to the information which will inevitably be gathered as a result. The premium label will also mean safeguarding privacy and guaranteeing the highest possible level of data protection.