Just a few years ago, the premise of a technology that could monitor your driving habits and record your location was having trouble gaining traction. Today, however, the telematics industry is an exciting untapped market that demands agility from the people who work in it to adapt to market changes.
“People are getting used to telematics, a greenfield space, and seeing the benefits,” Balakrishnan Nagaraja, CCC’s senior director for telematics operations, said. “CCC was one of the first companies to adopt telematics technology and build products in the space.”
CCC is a leader in cloud, mobile, hyperscale technologies and apps for the automotive, insurance and collision repair industries. In 2018, the company unveiled its telematics product, CCC X, designed to enhance the customer experience for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), insurers and their consumers by converging billions of points of telematics data for usage-based insurance, connected safety and more.
“We primarily cater to automobile insurance companies, and we recently started working with vehicle manufacturers,” Senthil Sadasivam, associate director of telematics product engineering at CCC, said. “It’s a unique space, very greenfield, which comes with a lot of technical challenges. I love being in the middle of it.”
Built In Austin spoke with Nagaraja and Sadasivam to learn more about CCC X, the challenges and advantages of working in a greenfield space, and what’s next for the CCC telematics team.
What They Do
Tell us more about CCC X and its origins.
Nagaraja: We have an extremely strong customer base when it comes to insurance companies and repair shops. We saw an opportunity to connect them with the big OEMs. CCC’s aim was to create the bridge between the insurance market and the OEM market. That’s how CCC X came into the picture.
We look at ourselves as a problem-solver, for vehicle manufacturers, repair shops and the insurers.’’
Sadasivam: With CCC X, what we brought to the market was being a data aggregator to this ecosystem, where we have a lot of industry players. This is terabytes of data being streamed live into an ecosystem. We look at ourselves as a problem-solver for vehicle manufacturers, repair shops and insurers.
What are the challenges of working on a greenfield product?
Sadasivam: Any new product you bring to the field, it’s always going to have teething issues. You’re going to learn something new about the market, about the contingencies that you need to build and about each player in the market. One of the things that we learned over the course of this build-out is that scaling the product is going to be in ebbs and flows.
People don’t drive 24 hours a day. You’re going to see a peak in the morning, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then another peak in the evening when everybody’s commuting back home. So you don’t want to build out a big infrastructure, a huge amount of cost and then just wait for traffic to come in. You want to scale it out when there’s traffic and then scale it back down when there’s no traffic. And that’s where Balakrishnan and his crew work with our architectural team to build out an ecosystem that is flexible when it comes to scaling. We scale it as the volume grows, and that allows us to manage the cost of ingesting the terabytes of data we’re processing in real-time, and then get it available for use.
Nagaraja: From a data and processing standpoint, the challenges were very unique. Telematic data is small, but there is a lot of data. Think about 4 million cars connecting to your system. From a data standpoint, it presented its unique set of challenges. Since it’s a greenfield, you should be ready to adapt to a product and to what the market wants.
What’s fun about working in a greenfield space?
Sadasivam: If you are in the technology field, especially if you’re on the engineering side, there is only one way for you to grow. That is to stay current with what’s new and green in the field. What changes typically is the nature of the problem that you’re trying to solve. When working at a company like CCC, you’re going to interact with people who’ve been around for quite a long time and know the existing ecosystem, and you’re going to interact with people who are new to the ecosystem but have a very deep knowledge of a specific technology.
Within our telematics team, we have a mix of both. That brings us a new day, every day because, with a greenfield project, our engineering instincts are always firing. For a mature product that's been market-tested, you know what patterns or issues you’re going to find. But for something like CCC X, it’s much more green. To me, that’s the most inspiring thing. It keeps me awake every day, keeps me interested in solving the problem for the day and interested in looking at long-term planning.
Nagaraja: The pandemic has made things even more interesting and busy on our end. People are driving more and not flying. So there is more driving data that is being generated. That means CCC’s products are playing a huge role, and that’s the best part. That’s the part I love. We’re in the middle of all of it — but there’s always a budget, always something you have to do better. It’s never enough.
If you are in the technology field, especially if you’re on the engineering side, there is only one way for you to grow. That is to stay current with what’s new and green in the field.’’
What’s next for CCC X?
Sadasivam: We’re working on a product called Safety. A lot of new vehicles have features like lane departure warning or collision warning. A lot of the insurers want to know how many cars have these features, and there’s also interest in knowing if those features are turned on or turned off by the driver. So we are looking at absorbing the data flow into the CCC X platform, packaging it in a way that the insurers can use, and providing them the ability to notice whether a new car that’s been added to a policy has these features and if they’re being used or not.