GM's Lost and Found Data Opportunities with OnStar

By Doug Mohney November 20, 2014

General Motors (GM) pioneered telematics with the introduction of its OnStar service. Via an opt-in and for-pay service, GM provides a monthly vehicle diagnostics report with dealer maintenance notifications. If you are in trouble, customers can run on-demand diagnostics in real-time and provide life safety services in case of a crash. Auto manufacturers need to offer discounts or even give away services for free because of the Big Data and goodwill benefits involved.

For a simple "Safe & Sound" package, GM collects $19.95 per month or $199 per year. But what if GM cut that price in exchange for collecting data on a more regular basis, possibly by leveraging a combination of OnStar's cellular linkages and in-home WiFi connectivity? GM could minimize its cellular bills by passing standard reports through the household wireless network, leaving cellular for emergencies.

To be sure, GM already gets a view into the inner workings of its vehicles from people who choose to pay for OnStar benefits, such as emergency services, roadside assistance, and remote vehicle unlock. The monthly vehicle diagnostic package is nice enough and provides a decent cross-sectional sample, but it begs the question as to what insights could be gained from a fleet-wide collection of data.  Could it give GM a quicker heads-up on what items might go wrong with older model cars?

Interestingly enough, GM is now providing its OnStar Basic plan for five years from the date of delivery of new U.S. 2015 model year vehicles. Buy a new GM car and you get both vehicle diagnostics and dealer maintenance notifications for five years. Both give GM and its dealers an advantage. The auto manufacturer gets monthly performance data across its 2015 models for five years, so it can run Big Data Analytics (BDA) to spot potential problems and help keep dealers proactively stocked up on parts while dealers can send out notifications for preventive service to avoid a side-of-the-road breakdown.

GM executives say OnStar will be able to provide "predictive failure" notifications for systems. If brakes, steering, engine or other system look out of spec as compared to the bigger fleet, a notice will pop up onboard your car to get it looked at before there's a breakdown. 

This is a great feature for 2015 and beyond GM car owners. If it works out as predicted, there will be a lot of happy (or at least less agitated) people that spend more time on the road, rather than sitting at the side of the road awaiting a tow truck. 

My only OnStar wish is GE would also provide the airbag deployment emergency service notification for free.  It would be a goodwill measure and likely save lives over the course of a year. OnStar commercials emphasized how fast and speedy the service is. In my mind, the best commercial GM could provide for its customers is a commitment to keeping all of them alive—not just those whose who cough up $20 a month.  After all, a dead customer won't get a new car while a live one will be much more likely to get another GM vehicle. 




Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Editor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Why Blockchain Could Be a Gamechanger

By: Paula Bernier    1/22/2018

Blockchain has become closely associated with the controversial topic of cryptocurrency. And that's fine because blockchain is an enabling technology …

Read More

Consumer Privacy in the Digital Era: Three Trends to Watch

By: Special Guest    1/18/2018

Digital advertising has exploded in recent years, with the latest eMarketer data forecasting $83 billion in revenue this year and continued growth on …

Read More

CES 2018: Terabit Fiber - Closer Than We Think

By: Doug Mohney    1/17/2018

One of the biggest challenges for 5G and last mile 10 Gig deployments is not raw data speeds, but middle mile and core networks. The wireless industry…

Read More

10 Benefits of Drone-Based Asset Inspections

By: Frank Segarra    1/15/2018

Although a new and emerging technology, (which is still evolving), in early 2018, most companies are not aware of the possible benefits they can achie…

Read More

VR Could Change Entertainment Forever

By: Special Guest    1/11/2018

VR could change everything from how we play video games to how we interact with our friends and family. VR has the power to change how we consume all …

Read More