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BMW deploys app marketplace that lets drivers buy services on the go

Margi Murphy | March 3, 2015
The Accenture-designed backend is available to support customers in Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium already.

BMW has deployed a backend platform that supports ConnectedDrive, the portal that connects the automaker's cars to the internet, offering drivers the chance to buy apps and services from their dashboards.

The 'Business Integration Platform', designed and implemented by Accenture, lets customers buy new services and apps directly from BMW in its online marketplace. The operating system acts similarly to a customer relationship management system with billing capabilities - managing products, customers, orders and contracts across the BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce brands.

With its new marketplace, now BMW drivers can select services like online entertainment and real-time traffic information with a click (or tap) while driving.

The platform will scale when BMW wants to add new services and products to the marketplace, Accenture said.

"Car-buyers want the latest consumer technologies and services integrated into connected vehicles, so the ability to add services in the future is very important," said Roland Mayr, managing director in Accenture's automotive department.

"Leading car companies that sell a range of connected vehicle services directly to customers gain a much closer relationship to their buyers, establishing a new sales channel."

ConnectedDrive, which provides some of BMW's semi-automated features, faced criticism from security experts after it was revealed the carmaker had failed to encrypt the operating system's data, despite being aware of the vulnerabilities for six months.

It was forced to patch the software after a spate of thefts. Hackers were able to unlock cars using smartphones within minutes using a simple 'man in the middle' attack.

Tony Dyhouse, director at government-backed Trustworthy Software Initiative told Techworld: "They had quite a window of opportunity and the answer they gave surprised everybody in the security trade - they said 'we now have put in HTTPS encryption which is what the banks use'. But that isn't only what the banks use, that is absolutely bog-standard good practice. So security people were wondering 'what, you didn't originally have this?'"

The new platform has been rolled out across 36 countries and the marketplace has been activated for German, Belgian and Luxembourgian drivers. Remaining markets will activate the service throughout 2015.

Last year, BMW announced its partnership with SAP to provide a location-based marketplace for drivers which would send offers or parking space notifications in relation to where they are driving. For example, a coffee offer would be sent to their dashboard when passing a petrol station.

The research project, built on SAP's Hana database, was announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, but is yet to be available to drivers.


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