By Ulrich Homann, Distinguished Architect, Cloud + Enterprise
In today’s always-on culture, people need to be productive from anywhere – including their cars. Commute times are reaching record highs and people work from a variety of locations. This means that people need a way to capitalize on time spent in their cars. At Microsoft, we believe that cars should be more than just a ride, and also be a personal office on wheels, helping people be productive and giving them time back to enjoy their lives. Our partners at BMW share that philosophy and have positioned the company for a future where the nature of work is more mobile.
In 2016, Microsoft and BMW announced a partnership to build a platform called Open Mobility, which powers BMW Connected, BMW’s personalized mobility companion powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud. BMW and Microsoft took another step to help its drivers be even more efficient on the go. Following the launch of the new BMW 5 series in December 2016, BMW became one of the first auto manufacturers to commercially offer Office 365 communications and collaboration services through Microsoft Exchange to drivers who already rely on Office 365 at work and want to extend the services to their car.
Thursday, at BMW’s annual ‘Innovation Days’ event in Chicago, BMW announced it will expand those services to include Skype for Business, making Skype meetings available in car. This functionality will be integrated and operated via BMW’s iDrive system. The services will be offered in Germany, France and the U.K., with other markets coming soon.
There are more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and many of those businesspeople use Skype for Business to facilitate meetings and calls at work. Using those services on the go will be even easier with BMW’s cars that have the ability to alert the driver of upcoming meetings, give a heads-up that a meeting has been rescheduled, or offer to start the next meeting without the need to dial a phone – a task no one should be doing while driving. Microsoft Exchange will also integrate calendars, to-do lists and contacts using the car’s voice and navigation systems.
Dieter May, BMW senior vice president, Digital Products and Services, says, “With BMW Connected we offer a wide range of digital services designed to help users with their daily mobility needs inside and outside of the car. We seek to continuously extend and enhance the customer experience with regard to all aspects of their mobility. The integration of productivity features in-car (like Exchange and Skype for Business) and personalized and contextual services will help customers with their day-to-day work and planning while they are on the road.”
By adopting Microsoft’s Office suite of productivity tools, including Microsoft Exchange and Skype for Business, BMW will give its drivers a new way to securely and safely extend their daily digital lives across their homes, their cars and workplaces. At Microsoft we aim to help automakers create connected car solutions that fit seamlessly with their brands and address their customers’ unique needs, and our partnership with BMW is a shining example of what’s possible.