Your car + Your calendar = Awesomesauce
I’ll try my best at keeping this short, but working with connected cars today is honestly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Change is fast, competition is hard, and the demands on the user experience is just short of insane. But how much do we really know about where this is going?
Internet is just a fad.
Ines Uusmann, the Swedish Minister of Communications and IT, 1996.
Try to remember what you thought you knew about the future of mobile phones back in 1996, and then put that into perspective with the fact that you’re probably reading this on a device from that same category, whilst listening to a podcast about cats, receiving a push notification that you left your door unlocked, sending a Snapchat to fifteen friends, declining a lunch invite, checking news updates, and finding a recipe on what to cook for dinner.
Even though being a fairly matured market in terms of connected cars, the current car fleet in Sweden is still only connected to about 3%. Volvo’s Volvo On Call, which both Springworks and I personally have had the pleasure to work with, began to pave the way in 2011. But six years later, 97% is still left disconnected and undiscovered.
That is why our focus at Springworks is connecting all car users with the service they deserve, through an infrastructure they already trust. And in doing so, we’ve just released the first iteration of a new set of features aimed at customers that use their car for work purposes.
If you want to know more about our platform, head over to www.springworks.se (yes, the site is in a great need of improvements).
Asking our users to allow us to improve
As part of our continuous design approach and collaboration with Telia in the Swedish market, we use a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Telia is the biggest telecom operator in Sweden, and they have launched their product Telia Sense on top of our white labeled connected car solution Spark (they’re also known as the infrastructure they already trust in the previous section).
It was during one of our latest rounds of surveying and interviewing we found insights that gave us what we needed to focus our improvements for our using-their-car-for-work category of users.
One sample set of the insights was fairly straight forward. For example:
- Users wanted the option to default all their trips to the “Work” category, as they found it easier and less tedious to categories trips as not work.
- Users wanted trips that started or ended at a specific location to be automatically categorized as work.
- Users wanted to be able to export trips between two specific dates, and not just a month or year.
Another sample set of insights was acquired with the help of a bit of stimuli from our side. For example:
- Users appreciated the possibility to be able to set work hours that would automatically categorize trips as “Work”.
- Users appreciated the possibility to set a specific email address that would receive a monthly .csv-formatted export of their work trips (e.g. setting the person in charge of accounting at their workplace as the recipient).
Nevertheless, one of the more interesting insights was found during a round of small scale, quick-and-dirty field interviews.
What was the purpose of the trip?
As part of doing deductibles on milage in Sweden, some of the preferred data points are:
- Fuel type
No matter what methods used to track the trips—using an automated digital solution like ours, or an analog approach using pen and paper—stating the purpose of a trip that had no notes several days or even weeks later seemed to be a quite common and annoyingly hard task.
What some users reported doing was similar to what I find my self doing when I do time reporting at work: they refer to their work calendar to look at the meetings they had during that day to conclude what type of activities they had been up to.
Introducing the Carlendar
To seize this opportunity, we decided to give our users the possibility to activate an iCalendar-URL in their app, which they can then use to subscribe to a calendar containing all trips using their favourite calendar service or application.
Now, as they sit down to do their deductibles on milage, they have the possibility to see both the trips they took with their car and the meeting they had in their calendar. All the events in the cars calendar also contains all the information they need to complete the forms.
Users who don’t use their car for work can use this to share their car and trip information with family and friends. As an example, let’s say that your partner doesn’t really care for or use the connected car application that much, but would still want to know where the car is parked from the last time it was used.
There is already some vroom for improvement with our solution, but we wanted to ship it fast to enable us to further measure and validate that this is something that brings value to our users. Alongside the calendar feature, we also rolled out defaulting trips to “Work”, being able to define work hours, and being able to automatically send monthly exports to a specific recipient.