After two highly productive years serving as Executive Director of the eSync Alliance, Rick Kriefeldt is passing the reins to Mike Gardner, Founder and President of mG Consulting, an automotive marketing services company focused on link technology solutions at the physical layer. Under Rick’s direction, the Alliance has been organized and incorporated, the board of directors and officers have been selected, and several key milestones have been achieved – including publication of the v1.0 eSync Specifications and increasing membership to ten key companies in the automotive industry.
“During his tenure, Rick has demonstrated expertise in the key requirements for cross-company cooperation,” said Shrikant Acharya, CTO at Excelfore and Chairman of the Board of the eSync Alliance. “His dedication to the eSync Alliance and understanding of the legal, administrative and market requirements for an industry trade association have been invaluable to the success of the organization. The eSync Alliance Board of Directors will work with Mike to achieve the objectives set out in the multiyear plan for the Alliance by the board in 2018.”
Mike has served as Secretary of the eSync Alliance since the organization’s incorporation. He has extensive automotive experience, having held several key positions during his 30-plus years at Molex, where he most recently served as director of the firm’s Advanced Technology, Market Development division and previously held the post of Global Marketing Manager of Automotive Infotainment and In-Vehicle Networks. In these roles, Mike had direct responsibility for program management, marketing and customer service in geographic areas throughout the world, experience that will be key to continuing to build and promote the eSync Alliance as a worldwide multi-company association.
Last month, Rick sat down with Mike to discuss his new role and ideas for the continued success of the Alliance.
Rick: Why should companies pay attention to the Alliance?
Mike: For the same reasons we joined the Alliance when I was working with Molex. The ability to improve, augment and adjust an automobile’s functions -- while the car is out in the field, with no additional demands placed on the owner -- will revolutionize the auto industry. But the vehicle becomes just a link in a huge network, and it’s much more efficient, reliable and affordable to develop that complex network through a standards organization than it is for each OEM and Tier One to come up with their own systems. At Molex, we wanted to contribute to this effort and have a voice in its development and deployment.
This may change the auto industry more radically than anything in our lifetimes, and I can’t imagine any OEM or supplier in the industry wouldn’t want to be a part of this revolution.
Rick: Mike, what is your vision for the future of the eSync Alliance?
Mike: The eSync Alliance has set a strong foundation with a published specification for an industry-leading technology platform. Now we need to build on that platform with additional input from industry thought leaders. Like any other industry standard, it becomes stronger and better as more stakeholders provide their input. We still have much to achieve in further development of eSync as a technology platform, adding new perspectives while expanding the talent pool working to further the specs of the eSync Alliance -- that is my vision for the future.
Rick: The automotive industry is currently experiencing a lot of turmoil due to the coronavirus. How do you think this will affect the Alliance’s strategy as we move forward?
Mike: I think this whole episode will make cars a more important part of our lives for the foreseeable future. At least for a couple of years, people will likely feel safer in cars than they do on public transit or on ride-sharing platforms. But it also may bring additional restraints on how we accomplish technology advancements, especially with so many concerns about Internet security. A car is just another IoT device. Like all IoT devices, it needs to be maintained and updated, but with isolation requirements that are likely to come and go as the virus surges and ebbs, customers may be reluctant to go into a dealership. Having a strong and secure means of keeping the car updated without requiring a dealer visit will become especially important.
eSync will play a very active role in meeting that demand. To accomplish this, we will likely hold many of our meetings by web-conferencing, as we have been doing. Standards efforts require consensus-building, and most milestone achievements comes from individual or small group contributions, anyway. I think much can still be accomplished regardless of how this pandemic evolves.
Rick: With the loss of key automotive shows and conferences for the foreseeable future, what are your thoughts on ways that the Alliance can build membership and brand recognition?
Mike: There’s no question of the need for a solid ‘vehicle to cloud’ link solution, and the industry will be seeking answers. The challenge is to make others aware the eSync Alliance is the place to get those answers or to voice their needs so further work can be accomplished. We can’t do this through trade shows for a while, so we’re planning instead to do intensive media outreach to make sure our message gets out there.
Rick: Why should an automotive firm or tier-one join the Alliance at this juncture in time?
Mike: eSync, and the technology of ‘vehicle to cloud’ communications it represents, is in the early stages of deployment – not only for updating, but for data gathering. This is an exciting next phase for the standards efforts, as data gathering will bring automakers the ability to improve future generations of their products and deployment efficiencies. There’s no time better than the present to engage the Alliance to both gain the knowledge and advance the technology in future versions of the standard.
Rick: Mike, I wish you all the best in your new role and look forward to celebrating the continued success of the Alliance.
Rick, thank you for your contributions to the growth of the eSync Alliance. I look forward to my new role growing membership and guiding next phase alliance efforts in delivering to the automotive industry expanded eSync functionality to a robust ‘Vehicle to Cloud’ communications link and ‘Data Gathering’ platform.