For many years now, the BMW Group has been building a portfolio of innovative functions designed to intelligently connect the driver, vehicle and outside world under the BMW ConnectedDrive umbrella. It is synonymous with forward-looking concepts and technologies in and around the vehicle that seek to use connectivity to maximize customer benefit.

2016 marked a very special milestone in the evolution of BMW ConnectedDrive. The launch of BMW Connected heralded a strategic and technological paradigm shift. With functions previously linked to the car, BMW Connected now used several touch points as a platform to group day-to-day mobility functions. BMW Connected was therefore the first step along the road to a fully interlinked world in which the car becomes a smart device.

In just 12 months, BMW Connected – complete with its increasingly advanced in-car integration and range of new services – is now redefining the mobility experience both inside and outside BMW cars. By June 2017, the number of BMW Connected users worldwide had already passed the one million mark.

The cross-platform, personalized services associated with BMW Connected are made possible by the Open Mobility Cloud. Its flexible architecture is rooted in the integrated tools and technology provided by the Microsoft Cloud and Azure data platform. This powerful system is capable of processing data and information from all sorts of different sources and then making it available for further use. The Open Mobility Cloud also offers far-reaching capabilities in terms of machine learning and data analysis. Every time it is used, the system gets to know the user a little better and can make forecasts. In doing so, it lays the foundation for the high degree of personalization and context orientation offered by the services at hand. The platform’s flexibility will continue to allow more touchpoints – such as new devices – to be integrated and scaled in the future, along with new partner services.

The BMW Connected platform is of fundamental importance to the BMW Group’s future direction. A portable, digital customer profile – the BMW ID – has a crucial role to play here. This profile will hold the key to linking a connected vehicle with the customer’s digital world with a comprehensive, vehicle-independent profile that the user carries with them at all times on their device, allowing them to transfer it to any BMW. It contains all essential information, such as personalized vehicle settings, the customer’s favored office and entertainment services, and mobility patterns.

Because these services are not built into a vehicle in hardware form, but are instead designed as digital services for various devices, every app release via the user’s smartphone adds to the functionality of BMW Connected. As well as new functions, these also include updates to existing services improved in response to customer feedback. As a result, the customer has faster access to other innovations. At the start of 2017, BMW used its recently launched 5 Series to debut the BMW Connected Onboard to showcase the potential unlocked by digital services in the area of personalization.

BMW Connected+ introduces a new era of highly personalized services and provides a digital bridge between smartphones and vehicles. It delivers the next level of in-car personalization and smartphone content display on the on-board monitor.

The integration of Microsoft Exchange and availability of Skype for Business provide the key to enhanced in-car productivity and flexibility. These functions allow drivers to use their car as a mobile office and utilize commuting times even more effectively.

BMW is the first manufacturer to offer secure in-car access to e-mail accounts, thanks to Microsoft Exchange. This means users no longer have to pick up their smartphone during a journey in order to access and edit e-mails, calendar entries and contact data. New e-mails and changes to appointments can be shown directly on the Control Display. And users can compose e-mails using voice control and arrange appointments while on the move.

BMW drivers will also enjoy the benefits of Microsoft’s unified communication solution Skype for Business. Upcoming Skype meetings are automatically identified and flagged up on the Control Display. To take part in a Skype meeting, the user simply presses the iDrive Controller.