Automotive Industry Embraces UC from the Automobile to the Dealership!

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With the Chicago Auto Show (#CAS16) now rolling out of town, we want to share how our visit there illuminated for us the intersection between Unified Communications (UC) and the automotive industry. ISI visited CAS16, the largest show in North America displaying the newest in automotive design, and discovered that manufacturers are making it easier than ever to conduct business from your vehicle. We also realized that for dealerships, the ability to direct call traffic where it needs to go to facilitate sales and service, calls for a robust communications platform. As the Internet of Things (IoT) takes hold and technology expands, the intersection between automotive and UC will be found at the automobile level as well as the dealership level.

AUTOMOBILE LEVEL: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Our foray at the Chicago Auto Show revealed that mobile users will find it easier than ever to conduct business from their mobile phone while in their cars where the average American is found driving 29.2 miles per day according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Thanks to two new programs we saw car makers adopting in droves, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, communication and collaboration features are made convenient to your car’s console. When you connect your iPhone or Android phone to the vehicle either through USB or soon, wirelessly, these programs will mirror the phone and display your applications on your vehicle’s screen.

According to Apple (and many of the carmakers we surveyed confirmed), over 100 models of vehicles are outfitted or being outfitted for Apple CarPlay with the 2016 and 2017 model years. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average person interacts with their mobile device 150 times per day. For the enterprise, where mobility has fueled productivity, and unified communications seeks to address the pain points of mobility, this is a game changer.

Google’s Android Auto makes available a number of apps that work within the platform that many users already engage with on their mobile phones for connectivity, collaboration, and entertainment as well. As this list expands it will likely begin to include business applications that we see used in the enterprise. Having access to many of the programs in your daily workflow could boost productivity even more.

Many automakers have chosen one application or another, and some have made both an option, which is probably a smart choice to not impose limits based on your choice of smartphone. We tested Android Auto and have to say it was a thrill. Choosing apps with an already familiar user interface from our phone (as opposed to predefined apps chosen by the manufacturer) felt like a whole new kind of freedom.

Apple CarPlay’s website states that it works hands-free with Siri, dictates your texts, and plays audio messages. As we take the privacy of the office into the automobile, there are bound to be some unforeseen challenges and unexpected results. Some of the challenges will be maintaining the same level of security and compliance with regulations, especially with recorded communications. The industry should move to be proactive in this space.

Overall, we are excited about the future of this technology and can even attest to the user-friendliness it offers. The visual consoles on many cars are much larger and viewable than a smartphone. Consider the ones at Mercedes-Benz that were the size of tablets and their center cockpit design includes a mouse-like feature that lets you type or write with your fingertip while keeping your eyes focused straight ahead. Never having to touch your cell phone while driving again, yet fueling productivity, is a safety priority we can all support.

AUTOMOBILE DEALERSHIPS

If you believe your phone system is important to the way you do business, consider the plight of the automobile dealership. The sales force is busy on the sales floor, engaging with customers and in meetings and often not at their desks. The loss in revenue associated with several missed calls or playing phone tag with current and potential clients is not something a dealership wants to blame on the phone system. UC has solutions that are specific to the automobile dealership that assist with streamlining phone processes and reducing the incidence of call failures.

When call failures occur, like lost or dropped calls, long hold times, or routing clients to voicemail too often, it can drive down leads, conversions, and sales. If you run a dealership and experience troubles with your phone system as a pattern, you run the risk of greatly minimizing any profits. The ability to maintain and communicate clearly with clients to provide excellence in your customer service is an achievable goal thanks to UC.

With UC, auto dealers can access applications such as call reporting and other mobile applications to improve how fast customers and employees get their information while ensuring quality customer service.

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Darlene Jackson is a published writer with many years of experience in digital publishing, advertising, and public relations. Her diverse assignments include stints with Chicago Public Media, The Chicago Tribune, and various print and online media and communication outlets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree at Northwestern University.





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