By Dinesh Paliwal, President and Chief Executive Officer of HARMAN

If you haven’t noticed, the automotive and technology industries are fixated on autonomous driving. And why wouldn’t they be? The global market for autonomous vehicles is expected to exceed half a trillion dollars in less than 10 years.

But if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what that means to us before 2028. McKinsey reports that the market for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), also developed by HARMAN today, alone will be worth $35 billion in revenue by 2021. Gartner predicts more than 250 million cars will be connected globally in just two years, enabled by IoT-powered connectivity. This is all happening today.

With all these discussions, market projections, and innovations like AI and IoT entering the automotive space, we’re starting to shape what the car will be in 10, 20 or 30 years from now. The car is becoming a critical part of our digital lifestyle.

As the auto industry continues to implement advanced connected car technologies, it is quickly reshaping the role of the modern car in our lives. Once the automobile becomes a functional, tangible part of the connected ecosystem, which includes devices across your home, office and also your mobile phone, the role of the vehicle in each of our lives will change forever, and for good.

A Shift from Device to User

The legendary Enzo Ferrari said the 1961 Jaguar E-Type was: “The most beautiful car ever made”. Hard to argue that fact. In the past, cars were sold on their incredible design, superior features and entertainment options. Not anymore. Rapid urbanization, increasing attention towards autonomous driving solutions, arrival of technology-native customers and ever-evolving mobility options – including ridesharing – have changed what consumers want and how they see their cars. The rise of mobile and social media usage is coinciding with the rise of millennials as a primary demographic, who have a lower rate of car ownership than previous generations at their age, and value personalization above all else. The qualities by which we gauge beauty in automotive have changed.

This means a major change for the automotive industry. No longer can auto businesses keep selling cars as a device, they have to meet users’ needs and demands. Future car users will behave less like owners and more like customers, placing immense value on how the automobile integrates into their universe and becomes a part of their lifestyle, which is now fully connected.

Digital: The 4th Industrial Revolution

With the arrival of highly advanced technologies like big data, AI, IoT, 5G, Over-The-Air software, advanced cybersecurity, industry pundits have rightly claimed that digital technologies are leading the 4th industrial revolution. But the benefits of all these next-generation technologies won’t materialize if they aren’t connected and able to speak with each other. Transporting people from their homes to work and the gym to social events, the automobile is poised to sit at the heart of the connected lifestyle and deliver an experience that aligns with its specific use-case. Is there another connected device capable of matching a car’s horsepower?

A digital, connected ecosystem, powered by the automobile as one of its strongest components, will link all these distinct solutions, bringing consumers’ uninterrupted access to a connected lifestyle that is customized to their unique preferences. Understandably, this opens up questions about vulnerabilities. While it is critical for users to get a superior, unparalleled experience, it cannot be at the cost of safety and security. Automakers need to partner with leading technology companies and security experts who are familiar with threats and the challenges associated in digitizing and connecting cars.  

The HARMAN + Partners + Samsung Ecosystem

A 2017 article from WIRED discussed how 263 companies were racing to get into the autonomous driving space. You read that right, 263! Whether these companies are coming from Detroit, Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv or Shenzhen, they have a phenomenal challenge ahead of them – being able to bring scalable technology and solutions to the table, while having a deep expertise of the automotive market and strong partnerships among each other that form the secret sauce of succeeding in this ecosystem.

Fueled by a long-standing strategy to form relationships with industry leading technology partners, and the newest union with Samsung, HARMAN has developed an independent advantageous ecosystem to lead the pack and help automakers adapt to an ever-evolving landscape. There is no other player out there that has as many solutions and supplier partners -- across mobility, connectivity and user experience -- in the market today. In fact, the merging of two operational structures that embrace co-opetition was a primary consideration in how the HARMAN/Samsung union would be uniquely set up for success from inception.

With established access to a highly-advanced technology ecosystem consisting of leading semiconductor companies such as Texas Instruments and NXP, the addition of new technology partners from the Samsung supplier network, we’re ushering in a new era of connectivity and autonomous driving for automakers, as demonstrated in our Digital Cockpit solution powered by an industry-first 5G automotive telematics solution. Further, our HARMAN Spark product, in collaboration with AT&T, has the ability to transform just about any car on the road today into a state-of-the-art connected car, with emergency crash assistance, diagnostics, location-based services, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and more. Who could have dreamt this 10 years ago?

HARMAN will partner directly with Samsung, but only when it adds value to our customers and consumers. Through our partnership on Samsung SmartThings, we are transforming traditional homes into smart homes, and our ARTIK Smart IoT platform offering is the quickest road to secure and interoperable IoT products and services. We’re also strategically partnering with other key technology players like Amazon, Baidu, Google and Microsoft on AI-enabled voice technologies to better address consumer demand for a better audio experience with voice assistant devices in the home, and for natural language voice control in the car. Through these partnerships, automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz are incorporating voice-agents in their cars.

The user experience is paramount. With Nexshop automotive retail analytics, we’re streamlining the car buying process and offering customers a highly personalized experience in the showroom. We’re also pushing the envelope on customer experience through our partnership with J D. Power, driving improved customer experience by integrating connected car and customer insights. All these are critical steps towards creating the digital lifestyle, which we know will change individual lives forever.

We don’t have to wait for autonomous cars for the day your automobile will be a greater part of your day-to-day life, and an integral part of your connected lifestyle. With HARMAN’s industry leadership in automotive and audio technologies, our established and new relationships with companies including Texas Instruments, NXP, Apple, Google, SmartEye, AutoTalks and MediaTek, and the addition of Samsung’s scale, resources and global reach, we’re best equipped to help customers navigate this continuous and fast-changing technology and cultural landscape, while meeting their user experience expectations. This wouldn’t be possible without HARMAN’s independent operations, which allows us to innovate and compete on our own merits, as an integrator of the best-of-breed technologies that meet our partners’ preferences.

In business and in life, your network can open up opportunities and possibilities that you simply cannot achieve on your own. This is clearly reflected in our own connections, from our supplier partners to Samsung. Tomorrow, this will be true for your car too, but its network will include cutting-edge technologies like big data analytics, AI, IoT and 5G.

Now is the time to ask yourself. How strong are your car’s connections?

The original post appeared on the LinkedIn page of Dinesh Paliwal, President and Chief Executive Officer of HARMAN: