Small Business is the Future of Connected Cars

Small Business is the Future of Connected Cars

In the next few years, before 2020, built-in connectivity will increasingly become a must-have in vehicles, according to Machina Research.


People will come to expect smartphone functionality to be seamless in their driving experience. Small and midsize businesses will be right there tapping into new productivity gains and potentially providing new services to those expectant drivers.

Every time you get behind the wheel, you are tapping into one of the most powerful computers you have ever owned (or leased). Small business owners will be users of this data stream, achieving productivity gains from a safer, hands-free driving experience. In addition, small businesses will create apps that leverage the information provided by your car.

Here’s a great example: Automatic, an independent small company, introduced an adapter called the Automatic Pro, a compact onboard device (or OBD in auto-industry parlance) that plugs into the OBD-II port of any car built within the past 20 years. From that port, it collects all the data your car produces, moment-by-moment: mileage, engine RPM, and fuel pressure, just to name a few. That data can then be transmitted directly to your smartphone.

Through its Automatic App Gallery, Automatic also helps connect your car to your smartphone and to a wide range of apps that can make you more productive on the road (and you don’t need a brand new vehicle to get connected):

  • Nest (and soon, the Ecobee) allows you to change your thermostat before you get home.
  • Keep track of your miles and create driving mileage and expense reports. With Automatic, you can link to ExpensifyConcur, and FreshBooks, to name a few.
  • SpotAngels can help you set reminders that can save you from parking tickets.
  • License+ lets you coach your teen to safer driving.
  • YourMechanic is a directory of local mechanics that essentially do house calls.

My own connected experience and onboard data

Despite my dedication to the SMB community, I did not go out and buy a new car to write this post. As the Automatic Pro product makes clear, you don’t need a new car to tap into the car of the future to access the on-board computer.

However, my existing car died; we needed a new car fast. We purchased a 2017 Kia Sorento and many of the Automatic Pro features were built into this new “connected car.” As long as my phone is in the car with me, their MyUVO app can dial 911 in an emergency. For example, it knows when the airbags deploy and starts the call within 30 seconds (if I do not terminate the call). The app also has a parking spot reminder. It will play music from my phone or stream from Google Play.

So, what I see here is small business owners taking advantage of tools and apps to make their day more productive. But I also see a variety of new business opportunities. Over time, automakers will need more apps, more services, to serve consumers. There’s plenty of room for entrepreneurially minded people to expand a business or start a new one and be part of the connected car era.

Keep up with what Lenovo is doing on the Smart Home and Connected Car front with this post by Peter Hortensius. To get an idea of just how many apps the connected car is spawning, check out this “Connected Car” infographic.