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The New York Times has an interesting story about how the automobile of the future are likely to feature “powerful communication technology” built into their dashboards, changing the ways in which drivers and passengers interact with the world while in the car.

One of the benefits of this technology, the story suggests, is that it will “usher in a range of conveniences. These may include offering drivers options for fuel, food and lodging, perhaps with a bit of a hard sell thrown in.”

In fact, it already exists.

The Times writes that “since December, GM has equipped about 3 million cars with an in-dash system it calls Marketplace. The free-to-use system communicates directly with merchants, enabling a driver or passengers to order and pay for a variety of products and services without a cellphone … Marketplace interacts with GM’s infotainment system and establishes a dialogue with the car owner. For example, if the car is running low on fuel, Marketplace can provide directions to the nearest gas station. The system allows drivers to sign up for the vendor’s reward program and can point the way to discounted gas. There is no need to swipe a credit card at the pump, because Marketplace handles the transaction and turns on the pump.”

Vendors engaged in GM’s Marketplace reportedly include Starbucks, McDonald’s, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Dunkin’ Donuts, Applebee’s,, IHOP, Parkopedia, Priceline, Wingstop, TGI Fridays, Office Depot and Yelp (for restaurant reservations).

One caveat: “Many owners of cars equipped with Marketplace probably don’t even know it’s available. Only about 75,000 people have signed on, and it’s not mentioned in any car manuals. GM wanted to allow time for refinement and for lining up more merchants, but is now starting to promote the system to consumers.”
KC's View:
Just another glimpse into a future that is coming faster and more relentlessly than many companies are prepared for … but should start thinking about now. Because as these kinds of technologies gain traction, companies will need to be ready to get on the fast track, or be relegated to the slow lane, which is not a sustainable strategy.