The connected car or the crossroads of the digital revolution


Today, a good number of companies, somewhat abusively described as "disruptive", are particularly well known for common uses for which the existing value was just waiting to be multiplied. This is the case in particular for those based on the economy of sharing, but also for most digital models, which, in a way, make "new out of old".
Carpooling, for example, is based on a service as old as the automobile itself: hitchhiking. Before digital technology, hitchhiking was free of charge and for many young people it was an almost daily means of transport (returning from nightclubs, weekends, holidays, etc.). Although the duration of the journey remained random, as did the quality of the "service", the system left a lot of room for chance which, as we know, is an important source of encounters and discoveries in all fields (the famous "serendipity").
Digital doesn't invent anything

Digital has turned the game upside down, thanks to two essential qualities: interaction and geolocation. But to come back to hitchhiking, if it takes over an existing use to improve it, it is however based on a fundamental that has nothing to do with digital: an existing fleet of cars and people who choose to go into debt to buy a car and are ready to share a moment, a service...
In this case, digital does not invent anything: it rationalizes and optimizes. It is the reign of immediate performance. Blablacar meets your needs by saving you from having to stand at the Porte d'Orléans for hours on end. In the meantime, the service has become industrial and therefore profitable, and there is something for everyone.
Towards less freedom?

But aren't connected cars with increasingly efficient driver assistance systems, or even autonomous vehicles controlled by algorithms, in danger of depriving us of some of our freedom? Are the pleasure of driving, as well as the choice of itinerary, destined to become a memory of the old days? A time during which a few generations would have known the pleasure of taking side roads, discovering a small restaurant or hotel in a village, following a country road at random, like fantasizing behind a sports car. Is the time of Steeve McQueen and the "Joe Bar Team" on our departmental roads really over?
Under the pretext of a well-intentioned "assistance", are we, as in other areas annexed by digital technology, going to drift towards a master-slave relationship, where the car would comfort the greatest number in the absence of decision-making or choice? Worse still, why learn to drive, since the algorithm knows? Why identify and differentiate between an elderly person crossing the street, a cyclist running a red light or a common pole, since the sensors will understand that a mass is to be avoided?
And the social bond?

Beyond this paradox, it seems to me that digital technology has a potential for progress that has so far been neglected. To use our automotive analogy, car owners continue to live their passion despite everything. They acquire, repair, replace cars to take and resume these "alternative" routes, rarely proposed by GPS... Unfortunately, some basic services no longer exist: petrol stations, often the last meeting place in villages, such as cafés, are closing down.
So, how do we bring back a passing clientele, lost on the highway, or simply create value for rural citizens? How can we revive the desire to travel across our beautiful country and redevelop a local economy? How can we recreate social ties? The automobile and all related services could make this possible. With an aging population, the issue will quickly become national.
Let's imagine third parties developed by sponsors, players in the energy, transport, tourism, health, insurance, etc. sectors seeking to recover the customer relationship abandoned to distribution. Thematic third locations allowing to federate several activities - from delivery, transport and repair for example to any other service available according to the specificities of the region. Platforms to handle inbound and outbound services from the city: for example, the delivery hub to switch from truck to clean vehicle for silent night deliveries. But also this place for returning parcels or services within and outside the walls. The "digital plumber" platform for home service professions, or the fablab, integrating all the creation and production tools, including the famous 3D printer, where young and old meet to share knowledge, repair, create and live together.
As much potential for realisation as the "analogue and mechanical generation", our turners and milling machines, our technicians or computer engineers of yesterday, in other words our senior citizens of tomorrow, will have every interest in using them to create value and thus guarantee themselves their "retirement supplement".
Tomorrow's economy: local-centric

The economy can once again rely on the entire local ecosystem of services, VSEs and artisans. The third places can allow you to recharge your car battery, but also to restore or repair a device (smartphone, household appliances...) or your car in collective, under the sponsorship of one or more brands. These service platforms could both enhance the value of the work of craftsmen and help to develop their know-how through digital training workshops organised by these brands.
The local nature of these initiatives would enable senior citizens to identify services that meet their daily expectations and socialisation. This is reminiscent of the role of social mediator of the shopkeeper in the villages, able to identify the unusual absence of a regular customer, for example. The village bar and pharmacy would find their place there in a form more focused on well-being, quality of life, education, individual or group support, and integrating home services. Why not in the form of a "pharmabar" in which alcohol would be replaced by plant and fruit cocktails with energizing and restorative qualities?

Digital is an opportunity to create real ecosystems in the noble sense of the word. Not networks of interests appropriating an activity under the pretext of rationalisation, with the added bonus of a major social breakdown. Real ecosystems that meet both local needs and the needs of passing travelers. The very ecosystems that Michelin magnified 100 years ago through its famous guides, symbols of pleasure, freedom and discovery. A player who, moreover, had all the legitimacy to develop a service platform in the field of tourism in order to enhance the value of our local players in the restaurant business, but who let our friends across the Atlantic impose their choice on us; a crowning achievement when you know their culinary culture!
Pleasure is an important contributor to the creation of value, it is even one of the fundamental aspects of being human. Let's not forget this.

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Louis Treussard, CEO of L'Atelier BNP Paribas

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