Q&A: Barry Einsig

Cisco's global transportation executive says the automotive industry is going through "digital disruption"

Cisco has conducted a lot of work in intelligent transport systems. What has been the biggest challenge with this?

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last six months with local, state and national governments, helping them to understand the transportation architecture and also training ourselves to be able to scale that message globally. 

The challenge with connected roadways is that they are everywhere, so we need to understand how to design and deliver systems. That’s taking a tremendous amount of time, but I would say in the last two or three months that focus has started to pivot through to in-vehicle systems. Because now we have established a network that can be used and we are starting to do proof of concepts, the conversations about in-vehicle systems have become a lot more interesting. But it isn’t just the traditional light vehicles, it’s also trucking companies, mass-transit companies, it’s everyone that needs to utilise infrastructure.

How challenging has it been to leverage other parts of Cisco’s know-how into automotive applications?

I think particularly for the infrastructure side it’s been relatively straightforward, but when you get into the in-vehicle systems that is where the discovery process is still going on. There are Tier One suppliers within that community that the OEMs traditionally work with. It’s not a core business for Cisco so that’s why it is still evolutionary for us.

What are the core assets you can offer to automotive firms then?

Everything that we do is around security, and that’s the number-one issue, so there are security opportunities and challenges. There’s the mobility element, data flows, cloud sources, there’s even potentially new business models with data services, so I think there is quite a lot that is relevant and available to automotive firms. We just have to repackage and test it in a way that they can consume.

Are OEMs and suppliers proactive in contacting Cisco?

There have been enquiries, which is why I think we need to build up an infrastructure and testbed because so much of this has to be standards-based. We need to be able to demonstrate it on a live testbed in Silicon Valley so all the automotive firms can come and see what we’ve done.

tags: March 2016 Cisco Connectivity