Cyril Zeller, senior sales director of the global telematics segment at Telit Wireless Solutions, discusses telematics opportunities and challenges in the insurance space
TU: What does your department/company do ?
CZ: Telit is a market leader in communication modules in the M2M space. The Telematics department ensures that the company has the most accurate understanding of this segment, including key players, their current needs and future expectations.
From that understanding, Telit wants to allow its partners to design with the minimum time-to-market and to deliver the right product at the right time and the right price.TU: What is your role and experience in the insurance telematics market?
CZ: We are one of Octo Telematics’ key providers. As such, we have an extensive track record in the Insurance Telematics market with the largest number of installed modules in that vertical. Telit is also the largest module supplier for OBD dongles available worldwide.
These devices have a very small form factor.
The OBD port where they are plugged in is located in areas where it’s often challenging to get good signals, and they’re designed with internal antennas only. As a result, OBD Dongle is an exciting challenge from a module-vendor point of view.
From simple PPM applications, where only a small amount of data is needed to be sent over the air from time to time, to the most sophisticated PHYD ones, where more consistent data needs to be sent on a much more frequent basis, and now with e-Call standards requesting specific in-band characteristics, Telit has proven a unique expertise in providing its customers with the right solution.
TU: Which trends will impact the emerging Insurance telematics industry the most in the coming years and why? Challenges and Opportunities?
CZ: As in any other vertical in the telematics industry, new regulations are a key driver to regional growth. As we see the new Italian government is soon to introduce a law that allows every car holder to request lower rateswhile accepting a black box on board, you can imagine the impact of such a regulation when it comes to reality.
The possibility to download a UBI application on future connected vehicles if software platforms adopted by car OEMS allow it should also tremendously impact the industry.
Now, there have been a lot of disappointments from the insurance industry not knowing anything about telematics challenges that often didn’t find the industry mature enough to meet their requirements.
Indeed, the challenges of UBI are somewhat different than those in MRM, and we as industry specialists have to prove them wrong in gathering appropriate expertise in order to provide the appropriate solution.
TU: How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors? What according to you is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
The size of Telit R&D resources and the commitment we have in supporting our customers in every single phase of their design, from PCB design to final certification, is definitely a very strong competitive advantage of the company.
Our Firmware Over The Air (FOTA) upgrade procedures and the fact that we are the only module vendor that uses its own stacks with complete control on the code are key USPs.
TU: What key topics or issues are you looking forward to discussing with the industry at the Insurance Telematics Europe 2012 event?
CZ: Telit’s mission has always been to develop close relationships with its customers in order to provide them with the right product at the right time.
I guess one of our key expectations from this event is to have a valuable update on the industry expectation from a module vendor, and especially in terms of SIM cards and air-time that are about to bundle as an option in our modules.
We see it as seeing our responsibility to make life as easy as possible for our customers, providing a complete connectivity pack is one obvious way.
TU: How important do you think this market will be for you and the telematics industry in 2012 and beyond? What do you foresee to be the most exciting?
CZ: Insurance Telematics is one of the markets we strongly believe in. It won’t be even in all European countries because insurance policies are not at the same price, which makes it more difficult to subsidize the HW investment where insurance is cheap. Regulations and people’s reactions to privacy issues and “big brother” syndrome are also different.
But if you are looking at what is going on in the US at the moment where UBI is becoming a substantial market with every major insurance company deploying its program at the moment (State farm, Allstate, Progressive, American Family, Hartford, Safeco/LM), it can give us a fair idea on how the market could grow in a near future.