Former Vice President IoT at Sierra Wireless
Dan has 20 years in the telco and cellular industry that forms the basis of what is today the telematics or Internet of Things industry. He started his career with 10 years at Telenor, the $20bn Norwegian telco, where he ran the Telematics division before being promoted to EVP Sales. At Telenor, he was deeply involved in the invention of the embedded SIM which is within every connected device and iPhone today. Dan spent 5 years leading cloud telematics companies such as Digital Route and Realcom and recently enjoyed 5 years at Sierra Wireless, a global leading telematics and IoT provider, where he was VP of the IoT division. Read more
Could you provide a short introduction to your background in telematics?
My history in telematics started in 2006, coming from the telco side and the cellular side into what was then called telemetry. It later became telematics and then you could say, it sliced into remaining in telematics and the automotive industry but for the generic markets, it became machine to machine or M2M and, today, that is known as the Internet of Things. It was really from the telco side that I started.
I then worked in all parts of the value chain, from the big data and SaaS-related companies, to targeting IoT solutions, to doing strategic consulting in a couple of different companies around the world. Obviously, all of this has been in a global play. I was also involved in the invention of the embedded SIM, that actually started out as an embedded SIM especially for vehicles, because of the vibration and heat. Today, you find it in your iPhone. That’s my quick background of who I am, in that space.
Can we take a step back and look at how the technological architecture of, specifically, in-vehicle telematics, has evolved over the last decade?
If you take a big leap back, I would say that it started to pick up pace in 2002, 2003, 2004 to 2006, where we started to get car manufacturers (OEMs) to embed telematics units into the vehicles. There were a couple of use cases linked to that. Obviously, the eCall, the emergency call, and stolen vehicle tracking. In the US, you also had GM providing the OnStar service. That’s really where it all started. Over time, it evolved to embedding more and more capabilities, so it became more and more vehicle-related telematics. It also became more and more consumer-related services. You started to see some OEMs starting to embed map downloads, even streaming radio and other services into it. The whole ecosystem around it started to model out. But I think this is also where it started to struggle. Technology wise, it’s there. The business ecosystem, for a global deployment, is not really there.
This could be linked to connectivity, as such. Once you start to do streaming audio and video, into vehicles, you start to consume a lot of bandwidth. From an OEM perspective, the way they manufacture a car is, basically, they put the telematics unit into the vehicle, they put the SIM card into the vehicle, just like the SIM card was nuts and bolts, and then they want to deploy the vehicle across the world and this is where they struggle. Consuming gigabytes of data and roaming in different countries just kills whatever business case they have. This still exists, to a certain degree, today.
We talked about private vehicles, but you also have commercial fleets, where you had the beginnings of fleet management embedded into the vehicles. Obviously, for a lot of fleet owners, some used it and some replaced it with aftermarket and put some third-party solution in there, for fleet management. We know how that has been developed from just being able to send pick-up and drop-off orders to the whole driver behavior, to economy and so on.
How could potential technology developments, in the next five to 10 years, help kick start the ecosystem?
I think there are a couple of things. Regardless as to whether it is embedded or OEM-related or centric solution, or if it is a third-party aftermarket, I think in the coming years, we are going to see some of the barriers being broken down. In five to 10 years, maximum, I think the roaming issue that I referred to before will be less of an issue. There will always be some countries that will be obscured from global cellular coverage, but I think it will be solved in a large portion of the world. That will help to fuel additional services in the vehicle. What are those? Those could be, basically, consumer-related services, in the private vehicle, that is linked to usage-based insurance, to being able to pick and book your time in a repair shop and so on, from that perspective.
On the other side, this then plugs into the whole data access. There is so much data in the vehicles and there are so many partners in the ecosystem that want access. I mentioned usage-based insurance, UBI, where the players in the insurance industry want to get access to the vehicle data if you are also a subscriber of the insurance. You pay, depending on how you drive and where you drive. There is this ecosystem around it that we are going to see evolve.
With 5G and that big technology step around the corner, that will help. The car started to become connected back in the 2G time and then there was a 3G and a 4G evolution and the speed racked up. But 5G is a big step because, for the IoT, 5G compressed the delays. Even if you have a good throughput on 4G, the delays are still fairly long. In 5G, we start to get very low latency and that will help autonomous driving enormously. When you do autonomous driving and you need to process data, the latency needs to be very, very short.