Movers & Shakers Interview with otonomo

Published: 16 Nov 2017

Can you start by providing our readers with a brief overview of otonomo and the role it plays in the automotive market?

otonomo was conceptualized as the marketplace and exchange for car data. With the dawn of the connected era, cars have become a rich source of data. Car manufacturers are investing billions of dollars in capturing these data. They have changed the architecture of their vehicles, installed modems, paid telecommunications and cloud service providers to extract and store the data respectively. otonomo helps OEMs and other data providers like Fleets and Telematics Service Providers to commercialize and monetize these data by making those available to diverse service industries including Financial Services, Retail, Advertisement, Insurance and Mobility Services.

Please describe your technology/service to our readers.

The otonomo platform houses a car data marketplace and exchange. Dedicated to enabling the safe, simple and convenient exchange of vehicle data, the otonomo platform offers vehicle data providers (that is Auto OEMs, TSPs, Fleets, and so on), and vehicle data consumers (that is mobility service providers, application developers, and others), a growing range of features and functionalities that will benefit their enterprise, the ecosystem we work in and, ultimately, the drivers.

The platform streams data from OEMs and Data Providers to the exchange, where those are processed, aggregated, and packaged to meet market needs. The data marketplace offers service and applications developers data in a format and configuration that meets their needs and even enriches the data set with insights.

What are some of the challenges that otonomo faces in the marketplace?

One of the challenges that we face is a result of the fact that data are being streamed in many formats. For example, some OEMs give their fuel detail in gallons, while others speak in litres. Our platform normalizes data so that these are easily understandable and used by their consumers. We are also concerned with the privacy of the data owner and our ability to enable our ecosystem with a solution to these challenges is a priority. There are also requests that come in from the data provider regarding the usage of the data in terms of their internal processes and limitations. We have a rule engine that takes all the limitations and requests stemming from regulation, driver consent and data provider concerns, and translates them into rules that are applied technologically on the data. These rules are enforced throughout the data sharing process.

What is your strategy with regards to offering customers the highest possible return on investment/the best value for money/highest price-performance ratio, compared to similar offerings from competitors?

otonomo is careful with its pricing to ensure that our customers see value in the data service that we offer. We analyse different market segments to understand what their comfort zone would be when it comes to paying for our service. For example, the average value of Usage Based Insurance (UBI) in the US is $1300 and, from our experience, we know that the comfortable pricing zone for insurance companies is 4%-6%.  However, pricing in a data marketplace is the result of the dynamics of supply and demand and our aim is to enable maximum value at market prices to all.

Continued innovation is the key to success in this growing industry. How is the process of innovation managed at otonomo?

The key to managing our innovation is to remain focused on our core strategy. We ensure that our innovation initiatives are carefully aligned with our core strategy. There is a sustained technology push within the organization. We want to be up-to-date on the technology front to meet the evolving needs of our customers.

What is your key value proposition that gives your firm a major competitive edge over other players in the industry?

Our key value stems from the fact that we have a single platform powering two seemingly separate functionalities. The data sharing process via our platform feeds into a win-win-win-win cycle for all parties across the ecosystem, whereby those providing vehicle data can both profit from its newfound accessibility and gain from a wealth of new services. Mobility service and application developers that require data can access it in abundance and in a format that meets their needs, and drivers are both protected and increasingly satisfied as their needs for a new driving experience are consistently met.

As the leader in this marketplace, we are also uniquely positioned to offer data that meet varying needs – and to understand over time what data are most valuable to which sector. Our marketplace packages the data in bundles to reflect this insight. We deliver data to improve the efficiency of an entire gamut of services. Data to plan Smart Cities, data to offer customized insurance premiums and for financing, location-based parking services and predictive maintenance; you name the service and we have the data for it!

Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your technology in the marketplace?

The reception for our service has been extremely positive. In less than 2 years, we have managed to bring on-board 9 OEMs. These 9 OEMs account for more than 5 million cars which are linked to our platform. Such phenomenal numbers within such a short span of time are indicative of the interest that otonomo has generated in the marketplace.

Do you foresee the acceptance of your product/technology/solution in the marketplace to have an influence on the direction of the overall market going forward?

Yes, we believe that going forward, more OEMs will look at data monetization. There are three main reasons why we are optimistic about the future of data monetization by OEMs:

1. The Smartphone Generation of customers today look for personalized experiences in their car. OEMs providing data generated from the vehicle to third parties will help in the development of applications which are customized to the needs of their customers.
2. Data experts like Google who have monetized data on the Internet have started turning their attention toward vehicle data. otonomo helps OEMs to hold their own and compete in the data market.
3. Data monetization brings in an additional revenue stream for OEMs. This will be recurring revenue constantly adding to an OEM’s top line.

As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for such solutions and, more specifically, what role can we expect otonomo to play in shaping the future of the industry

The connected and autonomous world of tomorrow will generate tremendous amounts of data, and data monetization will be a substantial portion of manufacturers’ revenue in the future. otonomo would like to capitalize on the first- mover advantage and be the one-stop destination for the car data needs of customers from various industries. We believe that our data service will usher in more customized features for passengers and play a pivotal role in shaping the car travel experience of the future.

What are your company’s marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances with other client companies?

We have created visibility with almost all major OEMs in the marketplace. We have 9 OEMs who have partnered with us at the moment, and several more have expressed their interest in aligning with us. When it comes to product positioning, we ensure that we do not compete with companies within the ecosystem that we cater to. The data that we provide can be raw, with minimal analytics involved. We understand that the companies in sectors such as insurance and finance will have their own internal analytics teams. Hence, we offer meta-data analytics modularly and are careful not to compete with our prospects and customers.

What is/are unique features of your service/technology that address unmet customer needs?

Recently, a major US-based OEM told us that one major issue that they faced was the fact that there was no centralized repository or marketplace for data covering different service areas. They felt that a lot of time was wasted in them trying to refer different sources to unearth data pertaining to different services such as parking, insurance, finance and smart cities, and so on. The need of the hour is a marketplace which covers a range of service areas under a single umbrella. This is the exact need which otonomo aims to meet.

What kind of customer feedback mechanism do you have in place to ensure that the product development and innovation match market and customer needs?

otonomo constantly interacts with OEMs, data providers, and third-party buyers of data to proactively address their concerns. The sustained interaction also aids the company in undertaking periodic upgrades and tailoring our offerings to better address the specific and emerging requirements of customers.

What do you want the company to accomplish in the next couple of years and how would you define success?

We are a marketplace for data. In the next few years, we want our company to grow and scale up like Amazon, which is a marketplace for products. We see a huge potential for otonomo to grow. We aim to have 15 million cars linked to our platform by the end of the next year. The biggest platform in the world today is GM with 10.5 million cars linked, and it took them 17 or 18 years to achieve that number. However, we believe that if we maintain our current momentum and growth rate, we will be able to achieve our target of 15 million cars by the end of next year.

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