Chevy’s Latest Telematics Commercial: “Too Much Information?”—Try Not Enough

By Joyce Deuley

Like many of us who work within the IoT industry, finding some time to relax can be challenging. Who can blame us? With new companies rapidly developing and altering the “connected life” as we know it, it can be difficult to find a nice lull and “just be”.

Last weekend, however, I found myself on my couch, watching some mindless TV when the latest Chevy commercial came on. A small survey group was asked, “Do you wear underwear everyday?” Of course there were confused faces and nervous chuckles as (MOST!) responded with a definite Yes. And then we got the lead in response: “I’m sorry, was that too much information?” To which all replied, YES.

Those two questions set the stage for Chevy’s big reveal: Do we think we could ever get too much information from our cars? The presenter then brings up a slick looking dash that shows all of the benefits of what is being tracked by Chevy’s latest telematics enabled vehicle, the 2015 Chevy Malibu. The hapless study participants were blown away by how much information was being generated from their vehicles and all agreed that, NO, of course there could never be too much information shared by their vehicles. But, is that really true?

I’m not going to say that there aren't benefits to owning a connected car, because that wouldn’t be true; there are several. Those benefits include: predictive maintenance and service notifications, better insurance rates, and awesome safety features, making the telematics industry one of the most explosive markets right now. Currently, out of the 330 odd million vehicles on the roads, only 30% of them are connected; however, by 2020 we expect that 90% of vehicles will be connected. Which is why the telematics industry has been the fastest growing sector in IoT for some time and most agree it will continue to outpace adoption in other markets for the foreseeable future.

However, I will say to Chevy, and others, that there’s “too little information” being given to the consumer about how this information is actually gathered—through the close monitoring of driver behavior and vehicle systems.

I don’t think many would have concerns with their vehicle systems being monitored for potential maintenance issues or with their car’s fuel consumption to be monitored. Those types of services can be very useful for vehicle owners. Additionally, driver behavior monitoring that reflects in a reduction in insurance costs also provides direct benefits to the consumer.

Yet, one glaring hole in all of this is—How are Chevy, and others, utilizing the information that they collect from their drivers? Are those customers even aware that the telematics gathering relationship works both ways, and that the benefits of that funnel of information aren’t headed just to them?

There is too little information given to the consumer about how telematics is being used and how it impacts the way in which “things” are being marketed, packaged, and sold to them. Yes, there is intense value to be gained from telematics that spans across multiple levels of the ecosystem, but—as driver behavior and personal information is increasingly recorded, we the consumers are also watched on a very deep, personal level.