Car Product Managers Look To Software To Boost Their Revenue

The goal is to sell more cars, perhaps software is the key
The goal is to sell more cars, perhaps software is the key
Image Credit: rakyan ‘boyan’ tantular

Product managers know that if we want to sell more of their product, we need to find ways to make the product more appealing to our customers. These days, that can be very difficult to do. One of the biggest problems that we are facing is that things change so quickly that it can be very hard to keep a product “current”. The features that we put into a product are great at the time; however, time moves on and all of sudden our customers are expecting better and more features. It turns out that when you are making cars, this can be especially difficult because of how long it takes to design and product cars. However, some car product managers think that they may have found a way to solve this problem.

Keeping Cars From Going Out Of Date

Product managers who work for the global car companies are looking to give the global auto manufacturers a major tech upgrade. In order to do this, these product managers are going to have to hire thousands of software engineers and collaborate with the companies that make computer chips to develop semiconductors for their vehicles. The goal of the product managers is to deliver a new generation of technology-packed models that can be updated throughout their life cycle using downloadable software and with customizable features unique to each company’s different brands.

Over at the maker of the Jeep automobiles the product managers have a goal of generating US$22 billion of annual revenue by the end of the decade through selling software-led offerings and subscriptions related to the cars they make. The product managers at Jeep believe that software is the core of their product. There is no way they are going to consider that the software part of their product can be totally subcontracted to somebody else because it is that important to them. The product managers at Jeep realize that they can’t do this all by themselves. Instead, they are planning on leverage partnerships with BMW and Alphabet’s Waymo for autonomous driving offerings, and with the chipmaker Foxconn to make their next generation car’s so-called smart cockpits which is a revamp of the car’s dashboard designed for an ultra-connected vehicle.

The product managers at Jeep are the latest car company to reveal their revenue targets and revenue projections related to their future connected-car ambitions. What all of this means is that the battle with Silicon Valley is intensifying over what the future of the automobile will be. This market space is a crowded place with other car companies such as Ford and General Motors also moving quickly to develop future vehicles that come with built-in connectivity and downloadable features that can be beamed down to the car directly. The product manager’s goal is to make cars more like other consumer electronics today.

Software Drives The Future Of Cars

The product managers at Tesla have long led the industry on vehicle software and other tech features, integrating downloadable updates, similar to software upgrades on smartphones, as early as ten years ago. Product managers at other car companies have long tried to match Tesla’s capabilities, but they have only recently started to debut such features on their own vehicles. Another problem that the other product managers have been dealing with has been struggling to attract and retain the talent needed to develop the software expertise in house. They have found that they are often relying on tech partners to develop in-car apps and technologies.

The product managers at Jeep know that partnerships will be core to their tech strategy but they want to control more of the software value chain. In order to meet their goal, the product managers are planning on increasing the number of software engineers they employ to around 4,000 in two years, up from 1,500 today. They also plan to triple the number of cars that can generate revenue from software to 30 million in ten years. Over-the-air updates in many existing car models already allow users to download the latest version of a car’s navigation software, or even choose from entertainment or driving apps. In the future, on-demand services provided by product managers could include the ability to buy insurance based on a vehicle’s current use, or the option to add additional horsepower to a car’s electric motor ahead of a road trip that would take it through rough terrain.

The Jeep product managers want to be able to offer Jeep owners an off-grid trail navigation feature that will allow their drivers to connect with each other individually or in convoys, even if there is no network coverage. The product managers also want to use artificial intelligence to develop a more customizable media interface. The goal would be to allow the car to predict what a driver might need in terms of navigation and comfort. The reason that the product managers have become so interested in the software that goes into their cars is because many car makers are now betting that growth and profits will come less from building and selling cars and more from features such as connected car services and apps. Although software has been a part of gas-powered cars for years, the new shift to electric vehicles is starting to put computing at the heart of the car.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of cars is in the process of undergoing a major change. Car product managers used to compete based on a common set of car characteristics such as how fast a car could go, how many miles to the gallon it got, and what colors it came in. However, now that consumers have grown used to being able to transform their consumer electronics via over the air software updates that can make old phones into new phones, they are starting to want the same thing from their cars. This means that product managers are going to have to find ways to make automobiles become more like mobile phones.

Car product managers understand that they are going to have to hire a lot of software engineers in order to move their products into the future. They want to make it so that customers will have the ability to upgrade their cars over the air after they purchase them. The product managers at Jeep want to eventually be able to sell software subscriptions along with their cars. Product managers at all of the major car companies are trying to do the same thing. Tesla product managers have been able to do these things for a long time. The Jeep product managers plan on meeting their goals by hiring more engineers and producing more cars. Jeep product managers want to be able to offer their customers features long after they’ve purchased their car.

Car product managers are starting to investigate how they can change their long term relationship with their customers. They want to be able to use software to allow the cars that get purchased to be upgraded just like people do with their mobile phones. If they can create the ability to do this, then they may be able to keep selling new features to their customers long after their initial purchase. Software is going to change the world and car product managers want to be part of that world!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How often do you think that people will be willing to allow their car’s software to be updated?

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