BMW sees four core themes as playing a crucial role in the future of premium mobility and services – they are known by the acronym ACES: Automated, Connected, Electrified, Shared.

Thanks to standard built-in SIM cards and the various BMW ConnectedDrive products, some 8.5 million BMW Group vehicles around the world are already “connected”, and that number is increasing every day. For many years now, the BMW Group has been building a portfolio of innovative functions designed to intelligently connect the driver, vehicle and outside world under the BMW ConnectedDrive umbrella. It is synonymous with forward-looking concepts and technologies in and around the vehicle that seek to use connectivity to maximize customer benefit.

BMW Connected. 2016 marked a very special milestone in the evolution of BMW ConnectedDrive. The launch of BMW Connected in the USA in March of that year, with Europe following later in August, heralded a strategic and technological paradigm shift. Whereas the functions of BMW ConnectedDrive had in the past been primarily linked to the car, BMW Connected now used several touchpoints as a platform on which to pool day-to-day mobility functions – thereby allowing a driver’s mobility experience to start before entering their vehicle.

BMW Connected was therefore the first step along the road to a fully interlinked world in which the car becomes a smart device; intelligently connected, seamlessly integrated and perfectly in tune with the individual needs and context of each and every user. The first version of BMW Connected was already capable, among other things, of combining mobility-related information such as addresses and appointment times from a smartphone calendar and notifying the driver of the ideal departure time in order to arrive at the appointment punctually using real-time traffic information.

BMW Connected is also handy for exporting places and points of interest from other apps, storing them as a destination together with the desired arrival time and seamlessly transferring them to a BMW’s navigation system with just a few clicks. And in the case of plug-in hybrid and BMW i models, it is possible to retrieve relevant data (such as the car’s range or battery charge) remotely via BMW Connected before setting off, allowing drivers to plan their journey accordingly. Further releases up to mid-2017 have also enabled integration of Android devices, smartwatches such as the Samsung Gear S3 and Apple Watch, and the Amazon Echo digital personal assistant.

The new version of MINI Connected was brought out in November 2016, shortly before the arrival of BMW Connected in China, a version of BMW Connected geared towards the specific needs of Chinese customers. In the space of just 12 months, BMW Connected – complete with its increasingly advanced in-car integration and range of new services – was launched in 29 markets, where it is now redefining the mobility experience both inside and outside BMW cars with great success. By June 2017, the number of BMW Connected users worldwide had already passed the one million mark.

A flexible backend: the Open Mobility Cloud.

The cross-platform, personalised services associated with BMW Connected are made possible by the Open Mobility Cloud. Its flexible architecture is rooted in the integrated tools and technology provided by the Microsoft Cloud and Azure data platform. This powerful system is capable of processing data and information from all sorts of different sources and then making it available for further use. The Open Mobility Cloud also offers far-reaching capabilities in terms of machine learning and data analysis. Every time it is used, the system gets to know the user a little better and can make forecasts. In so doing, it lays the foundation for the high degree of personalisation and context orientation offered by the services at hand. The platform’s flexibility will continue to allow more touchpoints – such as new devices – to be integrated and scaled in the future, along with new partner services.

The BMW ID: portable, digital customer profile provides the gateway into digital services.

The BMW Connected platform is of fundamental importance to the BMW Group’s future direction. There are numerous ways in which customers can benefit from highly personalised, intelligent connectivity between their vehicle and digital world, and these are not just limited to the rapidly advancing field of autonomous driving. A portable, digital customer profile – the BMW ID – has a crucial role to play here. This profile will hold the key to linking a connected vehicle with the customer’s digital world. It comprises a comprehensive, vehicle-independent profile that the user carries with them at all times on their device, allowing them to transfer it to any BMW. It contains all essential information, such as personalised vehicle settings, for example, the customer’s favored office and entertainment services, and mobility patterns.

These then automatically become available in the next vehicle the driver uses, providing a highly personalised mobility experience. The profile, and therefore the platform, keep learning with every use and can thus become more and more attuned to the customer, their preferences and their requirements. Personalised digital services: focusing on the user. The BMW service portfolio will be subdivided into four clusters, whose services address different customer requirements: vehicle-related services (My Car), lifestyle-related services (My Life), mobility-related services (My Journey) and the integration of digital assistants (My Assistant).

Vehicle-related services already encompass a wide range of features and include remote functions, such as operating the automatic climate control system from a smartphone or checking the 3D view of the parked car from the home or office. The vehicle-related services also comprise reminders for the next workshop service and individual financial services (currently only in the UK, further markets to follow). Personalised vehicle settings that every car automatically adapts to on a contextual basis will also form part of these services in the future. Mobility-related services allow the user to move from A to B as quickly as possible with minimal stress – and not just by car. Included are both relevant, context-sensitive information like “time-to-leave” notifications sent to smartphones and intelligent mobility products, such as navigation from the parked car to a selected meeting point and parking/charging options.

Lifestyle-related services involve incorporating the vehicle into the customer’s digital life, i.e. the seamless and straightforward integration of third-party services (entertainment, news, music), for example. Finally, the inclusion of digital assistants from customers’ day-to-day environments extends the scope of support services on offer, such as the already familiar Concierge Services. BMW Connected is always up to date, regardless of the vehicle. Because these services are not built into a vehicle in hardware form but are instead designed as digital services for various devices, every app release via the user’s smartphone adds to the functionality of BMW Connected. As well as new functions, these also include updates to existing services improved in response to customer feedback. As a result, the customer has faster access to other innovations.