GM Chairman Announces OnStar Go to be Your Next Digital Assistant
By Jim Lundy
The world is going digital and all enterprises will have to evolve to survive. Nowhere is this truer than in the automotive business, where Tesla is in the news nearly every day, but companies like General Motors (GM) make the profits.
That said, GM is not standing still when it comes to innovation. At IBM’s World of Watson event last week in Las Vegas, GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra announced OnStar Go, its new Watson-powered Digital Assistant.
Will GM OnStar Go Be Your New Digital Assistant?
The OnStar Go announcement came as a surprise to many, but in reality, when you think about how much time people spend in their cars (GM estimates 46 minutes per day), it makes sense. GM is upgrading OnStar to make it cognitive and IBM is enabling that to happen.
Mary Barra was onstage at World of Watson with IBM Chairman and CEO Ginny Rommetti. It was an impressive announcement and more than anything, it demonstrates that partnerships will continue to be critical as more and more businesses strive to go digital. In fact, in AI, Aragon expects most enterprises to partner versus going it alone.
GM OnStar vs. Amazon, Apple, and Google
The race to offer Digital Assistants is on and GM has some formidable competition outside of the car. Amazon Alexa has a lead in the home, but Google Home becomes available in December. One of the things that is happening with Alexa is that it is being used increasingly in corporate software demos as a basic Digital Assistant.
The car is different. While GM’s OnStar service is not new, it has been a primarily human-powered assistant service to help with directions and emergency response. Upgrading it to be an AI-based service is a smart move and given what IBM and GM discussed, it sounds compelling. Remember also that GM OnStar Go has a mobile app, so it will work outside of the car.
GM vs. Apple
Users will be faced with Apple CarPlay—a standard feature on most GM models. Today, Apple Siri offers very basic capabilities that mainly center around voice search. We expect Apple to up its game since it recently acquired Turi, an AI firm based in Seattle. Apple CarPlay is a formidable service that is powered by Apple and a connected iPhone. We expect Apple to be a major player in Digital Assistants, particularly since it has a programable chip in the iPhone 7.
GM vs. Google
Google is also competing for your car with Android Auto. Similar to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto works in most GM cars as well. We expect Google to leverage the Google Assistant, which is the core service powering Google Home in Android Auto. Google Assistant is really an upgrade of its older Google Now service.
GM OnStar Go and Partners
One of the things that GM is already doing is getting partners to be part of the OnStar Go Network. Exxon Mobile is one partner who will help locate gas stations and allow for payment from the dash. Other partners include ParkoPedia, iHeartRadio, and MasterCard for payments.
There is no question that Digital Assistants will be part of our future. OnStar Go is coming to a GM vehicle near you in 2017. Developing.