How IBM Watson "Drives" Shoppers to Brick & Mortar


Imagine this scenario. You like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, even ordered them every Monday last year from your local Starbucks. Fall has rolled around once again and it's a cold day all of a sudden. You step into your car on the way to work, wishing for a way to beat the Monday blues. Your car alerts you that the lattes are back at your local store. It even asks you if you want to order one and have it waiting for you when you arrive, alerting the store as you approach. Suddenly a blistery Monday is looking a bit brighter.

This isn't a reality, but it's an example of the sort of value General Motors and IBM are hoping to create using new technology to revolutionize the driving experience.

Bringing together IBM Watson and Onstar technology, the partners created OnStar Go, a new cognitive mobility platform, featuring a mobile, in-car experience with custom applications and content from a marketplace of partners. The platform delivers personalized content through the dashboard and other digital channels supported by the OnStar Go ecosystem.

onstar go

"We've decided to take back mobility," said Rick Ruskin, Marketing lead for General Motor's OnStar. "The four wheels that are going to take you places, that's us."

On average, Americans drive 29.2 miles per day, making two trips with an average total duration of 46 minutes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute. OnStar Go seeks to capitalize on the millions of dollars of decision making that happens in the car during that time.

However, GM isn't looking to "spam" drivers, as Ruskin puts it. Through demographic and psychographic profiles, weather data, and more, the "connected car" seeks to add value to their driving experience.

The new capabilities through OnStar Go with IBM Watson, which expands the existing OnStar AtYourService platform, will be available in more than two million 4G LTE connected vehicles and millions of GM vehicle brand app-enabled mobile devices in the U.S. by the end of 2017. According to Ruskin 500,000 vehicles have already been sold.

With the customer’s consent, Watson will learn the driver’s preferences, apply machine learning and sift through data to recognize patterns in their decisions and habits. Retails working with IBM and OnStar can then deliver individualized location-based interactions that directly impact their target audiences.

According to Ruskin, with the data, they are able to tell if a consumer is "predisposed" to drive to a retailer's brick and mortar location. OnStar Go can help retailers build individualized mobile, in-vehicle experiences for a growing population of connected drivers that opt-in. A few brands have already joined the cognitive mobility platform.

ExxonMobil uses it to help drivers find fuel stations, recommend products for their vehicle, and authorize fuel payment from inside the vehicle. Drivers can find, reserve and pay for parking with Parkopedia.

Mastercard enables consumers to complete transactions using cards stored in their Masterpass wallets. Glympse enables consumers and businesses to share real-time locations with one another.

iHeartRadio uses Watson Personality Insights to curate and deliver personalized experiences from radio stations across the U.S.

The Weather Company, an IBM Company, will provide rich weather and location data to support personalized targeting and warnings about driving conditions.

The cognitive mobility platform was designed and developed by IBM iX in conjunction with OnStar, using iX’s expertise in experience and mobile design.

“IBM and GM are changing the whole notion of where valuable, daily rituals occur," said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM iX. “Simply put, OnStar Go with IBM Watson transforms time wasted in the car into time well spent.”


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