There are few processes that are still analog but from medical files to banking, everything is becoming more digital. Of course, you cannot simply take something and make it digital. If you take a paper form to register for instance for a gym membership and make it digital, you will instantly not only transform the process but also improve it. Same for simple things like for instance a drop down for states, counties or provinces, checks on zip codes and addresses, that sort of things. The process is: transform AND improve. In this blog, I would like to address the next step after the improvement and that is the imagination. I am using the example of DriveGuide, a Dutch company that saw the possibilities of IoT and other technologies and created a new service. It is not only a new service to them but also to the market in the Netherlands. My purpose is to show you that thinking outside the box can give you a competitive edge and even open up new markets.
Every car a connected car?
Cars are becoming computers on wheels. That is especially true for the latest models from all manufacturers but especially Tesla’s models. But did you know that cars from 2001 onward have something called an OBD? This OBD (On-Board Diagnostic) is used for the vehicle's self-diagnostic and reporting capability. This port that looks a bit like the SCART interface from your video player is hidden somewhere on the lower dashboard on the driver’s side of the car.
Your repair shop will use that port when it does maintenance to your car because the interface will give access to (among others) the status codes of the engine and other parts. It also tells you about acceleration and deceleration, cornering, speed and, in combination with a GPS module the location of the car. Something that we also see in Smart Transit.
So, any car after 2001 has the potential to become a connected car.
How it all started
DriveGuide is a subsidiary of a car leasing company called Terberg Leasing, who have a vested interest in knowing where their cars are in case of theft. So, a couple of years ago they started fitting cars with devices that would track the car in case of theft making recovery easier while at the same time, due to the low costs, making retro fitting all cars a possibility.
This has made recovery of stolen cars easier because, strangely enough, the OBD devices not often removed by the robber’s guild. When private lease for cars started to become more popular (a concept where the car is a service, not a product) the same devices where installed as risk mediation against theft.
Now comes the first stage of imagination into play. Company cars are often driven for the purpose of business and they released that for many drivers keeping track of mileage and even billing that mileage is a time-consuming and error prone task. On average a driver spends two hours per month keeping track of it and often includes guess work (I think I drove about 100 miles back and forth).
If you have your own company as an independent contractor or need to keep track of private and business mileage you need something to help you. The DriveGuide solution is a device that goes in the OBD port of your car and will register all rides automatically from the moment you switch on your car until the moment you switch it off again. Using simple AI (or rules) it will suggest the kind of ride you just did like from and to work, business or private based on patterns of driving in the past. All data is send to the servers of DriveGuide and an app on your mobile device helps you manage this. Data can be exported using API’s and email. A valuable tool for business drivers that will save time at least (and time is money of course). In the nearby future, the Dutch IRS will accept the registration for tax purposes. This product was introduced about a year ago in the Dutch market.
But they did not stop there. The knowledge about the car also gave them insight into the car’s need for repair and allows them to suggest making an appointment with general auto repair shops, effectively coming between the dealer and the driver.
Another, even more brilliant solution, is the parking solution. If you park in a spot where there is paid parking, due to the available GPS data, the app will alert you that you are in a paid parking area. You only need to confirm the parking. (when parking using an app / license plate is available). When you drive away, parking can automatically be turned off again making sure that you do not forget to turn in off. At this moment paid parking will stop automatically when the car drives in excess of 15 km/h.
There are many other things they are offering and considering. Already they offer road side assistance (a natural extension with the OBD) but also a telephone service that will help people with all kind of things, from emergency situations to reserving a restaurant nearby.
The future for DriveGuide lies in an open API platform where other service providers can use the data and create offers or services that will add value to the users. What kind of services? I would say those will be linked to driving and all its aspects but perhaps also something completely different. The data gathered is valuable to many parties and meaningful services will improve the overall product.
How can you use digital imagination?
I believe Digital Imagination can get your organization to the next level. The mantra is transform, improve and imagine. Innovation is, at the same time, simple and complex. The ideas are the simple part, the realization (both as a process and as a result) are more complex.
A tried approach to digital imagination is to let go of the things that have guided you as an organization. “We have always done it like this and that is the way it is”. Ask yourself: “what if …”. If that idea appeals to you, read this book: Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. (It is more imagination than transformation but that is a side note from me)
When your imagination defines a service, let us help you to make it a reality from the perspective of necessary ICT. As a starter, read our white paper below is there to help and guide you to reap the benefits of your digital transformation. Feel free to reach out to me for an open and frank discussion and opinion (and feedback) on your digital imagination.