Cybersecurity: Next Challenge For Electric Cars

Car Jack-Jacking: Cybersecurity Is The Next Challenge For Electric Vehicles | Fast Company.

Wow, glad the author wrote about this key security issue for new electric car industry. As with any electronically controlled device, consider the implications to car owner and the power grid provider of cyber car jacking.  Sets up security issues that extend beyond the simple, personal transaction of juicing up the tank.

While these new cars are capturing the imagination of drivers, many are wary about the reliability of an electric car (will I be stranded roadside, waving a plug and begging for a mobile charge?), while mulling over costs vs. benefits (how high will my household electricity bill rise?). Now, along comes this elephant in the room. A sure challenge for electric car brand marketeers.

Big, smart providers such as RSA and Cisco have already jumped into the electric vehicle field with new products. Will keep an eye on this new tech movement.

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Cisco Brands Span Prosumer & Consumer Sectors

Cisco is plowing ahead with solutions for strictly business to prosumer to consumer, hardware products that scream “smart, connected, portable.” The company is backing into new WiFi-enabled video and in-home utility metering consumer markets without the hoopla and noise of brand-building consumer product launch advertisements… at least not to the degree that we see from GE, SONY, and other mega-brands.

Cisco’s Flip brand of portable video camera is juiced with WiFi and will soon have improved, on-the-fly editing. The brand was acquired in 2009, and it’s the first chance we’ve had to see how Cisco runs a purely consumer integrated marketing plan into and for a channel structure that’s comprised of all the leading consumer electronics resellers, online and in-store. The majority of Flip-ers won’t know or care who makes it, which is why I was surprised to see Cisco advertising the product, minus the brand name, during World Cup matches. See its airy, clean, uncomplicated, un-Cisco website.

Cius by Cisco Equips the Mobile Workforce

As for Cisco Cius teleconferencing tablet, it’s one new product that’s squarely in Cisco’s business solutions and prosumer comfort zone. Cius is an easy add-on for the company’s behemoth reseller channel to accept and promote. I like what Cisco’s done with Cius: they truly get the hassles faced by today’s prosumer knowledge workers, who make their living both on-site and remotely. While leading a go-to-market launch at an enterprise software developer, several times a week my teammates and I would clutter a conference table with assorted notebooks, smart phones, intercoms, video hookups, journals, and water bottles. Tablet-sized devices for prosumers would streamline such meetings, and remote participants would be much more easily accommodated. A friend who works at Cisco has told me for years how their regional offices are focused on “hoteling” work spaces… walk in, plug in, work, leave. (no Dilbert cartoons or Pretty Pony collections here!)

Home Energy Controller by Cisco

The Smart Meter solution is a tablet-like interface that promises smarter use of utilities and powered devices in the home. Unlike Flip and Cius, the channel strategy for this product is comprised of utility providers and related systems integrators, on a regional and local basis. It will be a partner-led, “referral” sale to end-user consumers by these utilities, and by specialist contractors in the building trade. The market space looks wide open for Cisco to grab top share right away. If prompted, consumers have preconceptions of which leading electronics manufacturer would be best in class for such a remote monitoring product – GE, Siemens, Motorola – but it’s first-in, best-dressed when it comes to grabbing top brand share in a new market. Channel resources from Cisco will have to be strong on consumer education and revenue-building rebates and incentives.

So, Cisco has two new ways of selling products (mass retail, utility providers) for three new product ideas, which means shifting how they sell and support products. And, how they educate and motivate a more complex, multi-tier channel sales and support ecosystem. Of the 3 releases, I think they’ll have the biggest challenges in dealing with the tumultuous electronics retail channel… the Flip product idea is up for grabs, and Cisco may turn out to be loss leader during the next three to five years. No matter, though.. a portable, video-driven solution will only strengthen Cisco’s place in the connected workplace, and completely jives with its broader product portfolio. Win-win, eh?

Connected Home Technology’s Brand Evolution

The other night in our family room, after swapping tales of funny things that each of us viewed and heard on the Internet that day, we gravitated towards a MacBook, watching stupid animal/people tricks on YouTube. While my son navigated, the remaining 6 of us huddled in, straining to hear and see while hooting and clapping and calling out for our own favorites. I looked across at the dark and silent TV and comfy chairs, and the nickel dropped… my personal meaning of “connected home” took root. If we could figure out the smartest interlinks between our household’s four MacBooks, four iPods, four mobile phones, two TVs, one XBox360, and one wireless broadband router, we’d be closer to family entertainment, Jetson-style.

Here’s what’s real for today’s “connected home” consumer:

  • if we subscribe to live broadcast TV on our smart phone — complete with channel surfing — then when we get home, said smart phone can render the same signal to our Internet-enabled TV set.
  • if we subscribe to Netflix, we can receive and send our DVDs via postal mail, while maintaining our queue online; or order content via Video On Demand (VOD), streamed through an Internet-enabled TV set
  • if we’re among the 100s of millions of social networkers on YouTube or Facebook, we can flip between personal devices and Internet-enabled TV sets to partake of video, audio and messaging.
  • Each of our personal devices render a wide range of content, from home-grown video to premium movies, and allow it to be viewed either on itself or on another, connected device like a TV. This is the missing puzzle piece for allowing group viewing experiences. Better still for the average consumer who’s beset with devices in every room: TVs and home audio systems that connect wirelessly to the Internet. Consumer buying trends verify double-digit, quarter-over-quarter unit sales growth. There’s also a healthy supporting market for set-top, Internet-enabling connectors that we now know as DVRs, set top boxes…

    A window is open to capture consumer brand leadership by evolving a product that is now simply a renderer or transmitter or converter — or embedded software within — into a household distribution center, for single-family residences and multi-tenant/multi-dwelling unit buildings (dorms, hospitals, condos, office suites) In essence, someone can stake claim to the friendly, non-threatening brand that the pioneers at TiVo so deftly created more than five years ago. Cisco Systems is well into the game through their legacy as equipment provider for cable companies. But I suggest that they look anew at their devices’ brand attributes and naming, even their industrial designs in order to move closer to brand personification as a friendly and trusted household device, especially vital to attract direct consumer sales from TechnoMom shoppers.

    News coverage from the January 2010 Consumer Electronics Show will likely be dominated by the news of Internet-enabled TVs and connected household controls that appeal to consumers who seek a better way to connect and stay connected.

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