I am passionate about cars and always have been. As a child, I imagined owning a car that would do whatever I wanted it to. Of course, it could fly as well as drive. But more important, it would do much more than simply getting me from point A to point B. My future car would look out for me, entertain me, and make sure that I would never be late for a playdate with my friends.
These are no longer childish notions. The automotive and transportation industries are entering a phase of the most significant innovation since the popularization of personal automobiles a hundred years ago. Similar to the way telephones have evolved into smart phones, over the next 10 years automobiles will rapidly become "connected vehicles" that access, consume, and create information and share it with drivers, passengers, public infrastructure, and machines including other cars. We can already predict benefits such as reduced accident rates, improved productivity, lowered emissions, and on-demand entertainment for passengers. The rise of connected cars will lead to widespread changes affecting many kinds of businesses, not to mention governments and communities. As just one example, we are seeing collaborations between automakers and life-science companies to develop in-vehicle health-monitoring sensors that can transmit data about the driver's health in case of an emergency.
It's only recently that the importance of the connected car has become widely accepted. When I founded Gartner's global automotive advisory practice in 1999 in San Jose, California, automotive company executives scratched their heads and asked me why I didn't open the office in Detroit. Back then, it took a good 15 minutes to explain the critical role Silicon Valley would play in the automotive industry's future. Today, little convincing is required. Automotive executives, as well as managers in such industries as consumer electronics, media, the Internet, computer hardware, and financial services, are beginning to realize that new concepts of mobility will affect their business and that they need new strategies to address consumer and market opportunities.