Upstream & Salesforce Discuss Connectivity and the Customer Experience

 

– Welcome to Upstream’s Tech Talk series. I’m Fay from Upstream Security, and we offer the first cloud-based cybersecurity solution that’s purpose-built to protect connected vehicles and smart mobility services from cyber threats and misuse through the use of data. I’ll be the host of this Upstream tech talk, and I’m gonna to hand it over to you to introduce yourself real quick.

 

– Hi Fay. Yeah, my name is Scott Mattoon, and I work at Salesforce in our industry group where we’re focused on the automotive industry, manufacturing more broadly. I’ve been at Salesforce for seven years and have always had an interest in the automotive and manufacturing space, and how our platform can be leveraged to really drive a customer relationship that’s new and more valuable to companies like automotive OEMs. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with Upstream, starting over a year ago now, and just really understanding how they fit into this space, and how we might be able to partner. So looking forward to talking a little bit more about that.

 

– Great, thank you. Well, Salesforce is known as a CRM, so customer relationship management platform, you obviously then look at the automotive industry through that lens of customers, and helping to improve the relationship between them. Could you touch a little bit on what opportunities OEMs or others within the space might have to either change or improve this customer experience because of the connectivity and this increased connectivity within the automotive ecosystem?

 

– Yeah, absolutely. So we see OEMs in the automotive space, and dealer groups and parts suppliers as well, more broadly, on making really big investments in modernizing their customer experience to really meet the expectations of the modern consumer. The mobile enabled, 24 by seven kind of experience that their customers tend to expect by digitizing their sales and service capabilities, and their marketing capabilities. And what we see is that OEMs really have a huge opportunity now that did not exist prior to the connectivity being available in their products, right? Now in the advent of connected vehicles, which are really the underpinning of some of the most important innovation happening in the industry. Things like autonomous driving, car sharing, electric vehicles, none of these advancements would really exist in any sort of viable market way without the connectivity, right? But the OEMs have some really major challenges to overcome, I believe, in order to take advantage of the opportunities. It’s a bit of an innovator’s dilemma, if you will. They’ve got to continue to manufacture and sell cars in their traditional model through traditional distribution networks and dealer groups. But they recognize they need to transform to a more service-driven model, right? And in fact, we had the chance to sit down with Jim Farley, the new CEO of Ford just this week. And he said that Ford itself needs to disrupt its own culture, its own company culture and operation in order to really take advantage of these opportunities, and to lead with new services enabled by vehicle connectivity. So there’s a recognition at the highest ranks of all of these OEMs, that transformation is necessary. It’s going to be difficult, it’s a journey. And I think it’s really true across all the major OEMs that we’ve talked to. And I expect that’s true for Upstream as well.

 

– So you mentioned a little bit of the services, and you OEMs, Ford in specific. A lot of these services or these extra use cases, let’s say, when it comes to this connected vehicle space and that you are hoping to improve the experience of the customers using these, over the OEMs or the other providers that are trying to increase that relationship. A lot of these rely on data, the data from the connected vehicles. So what do you see as the relationship between these OEMs, or smart mobility services, or tier one or tier twos that are using Salesforce’s platform along with the car owners and drivers, and the data itself, where is that relationship and how does that work?

 

– Yeah, so the OEMs are, I think, recognizing that subscription services is probably the model for a lot of the future revenue that they need to bring into their revenue mix as they see the first transaction business, if you will, around selling a vehicle and then servicing it over its lifetime, to a more sort of subscription-based level of service that goes well beyond the vehicle itself into the services that you bring into the vehicle, like comfort services and infotainment, as well as those kinds of services that a customer might want en route, like vehicle refueling and charging, things like gaining access to hospitality en route, food and lodging, and for vehicle services. The predictive and preventative services that would help their customers avoid breakdowns, and to efficiently get their car serviced. Nobody likes to have to go into the service center and leave their vehicle for hours, or sit there and wait for their car to be ready. They’d rather bring it in and have the most efficient service delivered with the least amount of wait time, right? So those are all new services that I think rely heavily on the data that’s available from the vehicle. For example, with predictive services, rather than bringing a vehicle in for service on a routine schedule of say, every six months or 18 months, depending on the service interval, bring it in when it needs service based on the wear and tear and the conditions that the vehicle has been used in, right? And of course, with the ability to look at the diagnostic and telematics from the vehicle, the OEMs can get a really strong sense of when services needed, for what parts and what timeframe, right? And so scheduling service around those kind of preventative time windows rather than on a routine schedule would be better for the customer, and ultimately will help build loyalty for their brand.

 

– I kind of want to touch on, it possibly might be a testy subject, but would you look at data as a means to an end, or an end in and of itself when it comes to the customers using this data? Or owning the data? Cause I kind of wanna understand a little bit more about that relationship of the customers and of the OEM. So your customers and our customers when it comes to the data.

 

– Yeah, well, as you and I had discussed before, Salesforce puts a big emphasis on trust, and its relationship with customers, and helping our customers kind of bring trust to the relationship in the way that their data is collected and used in the course of business. So to answer your question directly, I think the data is really means to an end, and the end would be to have a better customer experience. And we’re beginning to see some regulatory agencies try and drive towards this, of regulating how companies can use customer data. In fact, there’s legislation on the ballot in California this year for our election coming up in November, the deals with this, and whether to restrict what companies can do with personal data, and for how long they can keep it, and for what purposes, and what kind of notification or informed consent do the customers have to have to offer back to the company in order for them to use it. So it’s a very hot topic right now, and there’s a lot to, I think, be sorted out between governments, companies and private citizens, private individuals that consume all of these services. And I think the thing that we really want to avoid is a situation where customers are forced to, or strongly incented to give up their personal data. Perhaps for into perpetuity, just in order to be able to download an app, for example, right? And I think when you look at all the different commercial interactions that consumers have, the one that they have with the car manufacturers, and their own car, there needs to be a really strong trust relationship there in order to have a loyal customer relationship. And if an OEM were to say, “In order to access these services within your vehicle, “you need to give up all your personal data “for us to use however we want.” That’s not gonna go very well, right? So being able to put trust as sort of the primary, or number one value in that relationship with our customers, we think is a good strategy. And we’re beginning to see OEMs adopt that approach. So it’s very much about consent to use that data for specific purposes that are very granular level. And of course our platform is a great way for these companies to actually administer and implement those trust relationships.

 

– You know, when you mention trust, then you speak of a data platform, and utilizing that data for things, that makes me think of one of the core elements of Upstream, and where we really started and began to develop our understanding of all of these use cases of data was from that cybersecurity space. When I think of trust, I think of cybersecurity. Can you touch a little bit about that connection, between us as Upstream and you at Salesforce when it comes to specifically that trust within the cybersecurity element, and within that entire ecosystem of this being also a data platform and us working on a larger data platform to enhance customer experience, which is again services that they know they want, and then also services that they really need when it comes to security.

 

– Yeah, well, and that’s where our relationship between Upstream and Salesforce began was around the cybersecurity capabilities of the Upstream platform, right? And how can the the experience be tied into the overall journey of a customer using a vehicle, and the OEM’s role in all of that. So being able to tell our customers that, “Look ,you’re protected from this range “of potential cybersecurity breaches or threats, “whether that be access to the application infrastructure “that helps you monitor and manage your car, “to unlock your car, or to bring into your car.” And how do we secure that to the vehicle itself, and how do we prevent the vehicle from being hacked or control being taken over by nefarious actors, if you will, right? And we felt that that was a valuable experience that was somewhat underrepresented in the conversation that we were having with OEMs in terms of worst case scenario, what could happen in the vehicle? And how do you impart the confidence to your customers that they’re protected against that, right? And where Salesforce comes in and with this is that if Upstream were to detect a potential threat to that individual vehicle or the driver’s experience in that vehicle, that they can be notified using the tools and capabilities of Salesforce, and to take the corrective action being triggered by the Salesforce platform, whether that’s for bringing it in for service, or for applying a patch, or for potentially even having to take the vehicle out of service, because there’s a grave threat to them, right? Which I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen, but certainly everyone’s aware that the potential is there. So having that action layer enabled by Salesforce on top of the cybersecurity threat monitoring from Upstream was a valuable combination that’s attractive to the OEMs.

 

– Yeah, and it really puts the customer back in the center of all of the actions, of saying what is happening to the customer, what is happening to the driver, What is happening to the road user is really what matters in the end of the day.

 

– Right. The customers really want to be in the driver’s seat, if you will, in more ways than one. We see this with the sort of attitudes towards autonomous driving. And that even though the technology is getting to a point where there are a number of activities on the road that the vehicle can sort of take over, the attitudes toward this are that drivers don’t want to be in vehicles that they don’t have some degree of control over, right? And I think this extends to things like being informed when there is a cybersecurity threat related to their vehicle, rather than just having it being dealt with in the background. They want to take an active role in protecting and preventing, protecting themselves and preventing those situations from occurring, right.

 

– I think this is a great way to wrap it up, so I’m just gonna see if there’s any last words you wanna say to our viewers, or any last things you wanna add to this.

 

– Well, I’ll just say our partnership with Upstream is really at the beginning stages. And I think there are a lot of places we can go together, and very excited to have this relationship with Upstream. And I’m looking forward to continuing involvement with your company. Thanks.

 

– Great, well, thank you so much for joining me today, and have a great day.

 

– All right, thanks Fay. Appreciate it.