Editor’s Note: AI Cloud, Einstein GPT, and other cloud GPT products are now Einstein. For the latest on Salesforce Einstein, go here.
For more than a century, cars have been a symbol of engineering prowess because of their hardware: engines, transmissions, brakes, axles, and other physical parts. Now, however, we’ve entered the era of the software-defined vehicle where software, not hardware, shapes the driving experience.
The notion of a connected car has been evolving for decades. Emergency-based communications systems that allow drivers to call for help with the push of a button have been around for 30 years. Gradually more software has been implemented to control the hardware and driving experience — and more compute power, data, and AI has enabled everything from GPS routing to crash avoidance to autonomous driving.
Now, however, we’ve entered the era of the software-defined vehicle, where software, not hardware, shapes the driving experience.
Some cars, especially the tech-forward EVs, are a harbinger of the dominant role software will play in the automotive equation going forward. But cars that park themselves, offer guidance to the nearest gas or charging station, signal needed repairs, or pull up a child’s favorite shows — these won’t be nice-to-have, premium features in the future, they’ll come standard on every vehicle. And the key to enabling these experiences is the hundreds of onboard sensors and vast amounts of data coming from the car.
A ‘seismic shift’ in the auto industry
Within the walls of Salesforce, there’s nobody who can speak to these data-driven, connected car experiences better than Achyut Jajoo. Though he’s now the company’s SVP and GM of Automotive and Manufacturing, Jajoo started his career as an engineer in Detroit, designing cars and trucks.
“A lot of people don’t fully understand how seismic a shift the auto industry is going through today. We hear about the death of gas vehicles and the electric revolution, but the biggest transformation is a reimagining of the underlying architecture of what makes a car. Once all cars – electric, hybrid, or gas – are more software-defined and connected, the capabilities and possibilities for more enjoyable, safe, and sustainable driving experiences will grow exponentially,” according to Jajoo.
Indeed, he said, the connected car will connect drivers, manufacturers, dealers, and auto lenders in ways that create more personalized experiences and higher levels of customer service.
Once all cars – electric, hybrid, or gas – are more software-defined and connected, the capabilities and possibilities for more enjoyable, safe, and sustainable driving experiences will grow exponentially.Achyut Jajoo, SVP and GM, Automotive and Manufacturing
For one, cars will no longer be limited to the features and upgrades selected at a dealership. While some of the more advanced EVs have already started down this path, soon many more cars and trucks will be dynamic, instantly-upgradable machines thanks to the software, connectivity, and volumes of telemetry data that a car generates.
“So now in real time, the data that is coming from the car can help shape the features and change the way you’re experiencing the car itself,” Jajoo said.
For example, a car manufacturer may receive real-time telemetry data that one of their vehicles has started a road trip, but the driver doesn’t have trip optimization service installed. To help, they immediately send a notification through the car’s infotainment system to install the service. Now, the car’s software can show the driver the best rest stops, where to recharge or refuel at the lowest cost, and other features that will make the trip easier and more enjoyable.
Real-time data powers personalized driving experiences
So where does Salesforce come into this scenario? According to Jajoo, “Automotive Cloud is the connective tissue that brings together vehicle data, retail data, and customer data.” Then with Data Cloud, automotive companies can unify all of this data into a single, real-time profile for every customer, and build personalized experiences at every touch point.
“What we are really doing is creating an interactive, real-time data platform that helps you build this orchestration engine for new consumer experiences. With Automotive Cloud connecting vehicle data with customer, retail, and household data, automakers can now understand what someone needs and when they need it,” said Jajoo. “And in the future, the quality and level of personalization for the driver experience will matter as much, if not more, than the car itself. Software is the new brand differentiator for the auto industry.”
That real-time aspect will come in handy in a variety of situations, according to Jajoo. Layering web-based and location-based data, for example, a car will alert a hungry driver that their favorite fast food dining spot is coming up in a few miles. From the car, the driver can instantly place an order via a voice-enabled chat bot and even utilize a special coupon generated on the fly for the driver.
On the commercial side, vehicles will serve as platforms for advanced fleet management and telematics solutions. With route optimization, real-time planning, remote diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and driver performance monitoring, businesses will be able to minimize driver downtime and further optimize fleet operations.
Another common situation where connected cars will thrive? Fender benders. In a connected car future, camera recognition technology will confirm everyone is OK and doesn’t require medical assistance. Then, with Salesforce technology, a workflow will automatically kick off — alerting the insurance carrier, proactively calling a tow truck, and initiating the claims process all automatically and in real time.
As Jajoo succinctly put it, it’s all about “taking care of a problem before it happens.” And while in the past what mattered to most car owners was cylinders and horsepower, in this scenario, data and software are the heroes (though they can still help you soup up your engine).
It’s all about taking care of a problem before it happens.Achyut Jajoo, SVP and GM, Automotive and Manufacturing
Analyzing terabytes of data coming from millions upon millions of cars, sensors, and connection points, and using it to help the auto industry manage the cars of the future is where another Salesforce technology will play a critical role.
“Our Einstein AI, Einstein GPT, and Flow automation technologies are going to be very important layers for streamlining processes and delivering proactive insights and actions at scale, because no human will be able to make sense of the tsunami of information flowing from the connected cars,” Jajoo said. He added that this intersection of hardware and software is at a pivotal moment right now, and that with the cost of chips, sensors, and data storage all coming down, “we can really drive more and more hyper-personalized engagement on and off the road.”
This fully connected car future, powered by real-time data, is on the horizon. Right now, carmakers are bringing this software-driven approach to their full vehicle line, which Jajoo said will take a few years to fully scale, especially when it comes to combustion engine cars, which are less software-reliant than electric vehicles.
Once that happens, our fundamental relationship with vehicles and how drivers experience them will fundamentally change, according to Jajoo. “A car will be an extension of the driver, customizable and personalized for what the driver and their family wants, needs, and does,” he said. “Using software underpinned by real-time data, AI, and automation, Salesforce is helping the entire industry — automakers, dealers, suppliers, financial services companies, and more — connect to their customers in a whole new way.”