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3 September, 2020

Why OEM embedded solutions will not kill aftermarket telematics

Challenges that OEM telematics platforms may struggle to address.

The ubiquitous trend for “smart-ness” in all walks of life and business pushes companies to complement their core products with digital services, monitoring apps, remote management tools, whatnot.

Connected vehicles are the incarnation of this trend in the automotive market. Major automotive manufacturers al least have to stay in sync with the latest novelties (if not set these themselves). Which they do. According to the analytics reports, over 41 percent of the new vehicles manufactured in 2018 were equipped with the OEM telematics solutions.

Obviously, it’s beneficial for a private car-owner to be able to pre-heat or pre-cool the car before getting in, finding the car on the parking lot, or getting a reminder to have the car checked straight on the phone. Commercial fleets have a totally different way of looking at telematics and OEM solutions can not always respond to the challenges and tasks posed.

Let’s look at some of the possible issues you may face if sticking to the OEM telematics solutions.

No single standard

Lack of standardized data types and formats across different OEM platforms makes it increasingly difficult to aggregate the data from multiple sources and perform any joint analysis or calculations.

You may argue that aftermarket GPS tracking devices have distinct protocols either. And it’s true. However, numerous GPS tracking platforms (like Wialon, Navixy, GPS Gate, etc.) can do the parsing of messages coming from various devices behind the scenes, while platforms like flespi can even do the standardization to the unified JSON format for easy consumption.

Limited data

With OEM embedded telematics platforms, the customers may find themselves in a dependant position - they might have to make do with the subset of data that was considered relevant for their use case scenario by the platform creators. Which is not always what the customers want. This lack of flexibility in shaping the desired output may be a major restricting factor for the dynamic companies with rapidly changing business requirements, extensively growing fleets, and interest in entering new markets.

Doesn’t work for mixed fleets

If you are the owner of a homogeneous fleet from a single manufacturer, you intend to extend it only with the same vehicles if necessary, and you are satisfied with the metrics the OEM system calculates for you, go for it.

If you own or manage various types of equipment or vehicles (concrete mixers, trailers, trucks, buses, containers, etc.) of different makes and models, you might end up with a zoo of a dozen OEM telematics platforms. And making them talk to you in the same language, let alone share the data in the same format, is quite a challenge.

Passenger counter for a bus, vibration alarm for a container, drum rotation speed for a concrete mixer - you are unlikely to get all of these parameters from a one-size-fits-all solution.

Unavailable on older vehicles

Even though some companies started offering embedded telematics earlier than others (e.g. BMW started doing so back in 1998), chances are that part of your fleet might not have built-in telematics installed onboard. Some manufacturers do offer telematics as after-sales service for some older models but it often lacks completeness due to the limited number of sensors, incompatible formats, etc.

Secondariness

These are primarily the carmaking companies, right? They excel at vehicle design, improving performance, engine fine-tuning, ergonomics, etc. But not necessarily in software development and support for the users of the software solution. It’s totally logical to focus on the areas of business that generate the most profit and for car manufacturers it’s usually cars.

In contrast, for Telematics Service Providers ensuring reliable operation of the tracking devices, updating firmware, and customizing the software solution to the needs of the customer is the core competence.

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Without a doubt, vehicle manufacturers will keep investing in digital services accompanying their core produce. This way they indeed can maximize the value for the customer, increase stickiness, attract early adopters from the technologically conscious companies, and a lot more.

On the other hand, until OEMs agree on a common “language” for inter-platform communication and give more customization options, there will be enough room for the aftermarket telematics solutions.

Embedded and aftermarket telematics will peacefully co-exist in the foreseeable future, making the choice directly dependent on the application, specific use case requirements, and limitations.