Recognizing a need from major car manufacturers, George Parthimos, CEO of Melbourne-based Connexion, conceived Flex—a cloud-based connected vehicle management service.
“We were a very small company,” says Kate Thompson, Connexion project manager for Flex. “It was the CEO, me, and I think one sales guy started a week after me. That same week we launched on the Australian Securities Exchange, so that was a pretty big deal. We had a board of directors, but not a team yet to work on the idea.”
At the time, Connexion’s resources were dedicated to its existing product, the miRoamer internet radio app.
”The need for Flex was quite immediate,” says Johnson. “We knew that there were opportunities coming up with General Motors, so we wanted to get it out on the market. We knew that we didn’t have time to recruit a team internally to do the work. We recognized that we needed to outsource with an established company—someone with a team who already had the skills in place.”
Through an introduction from Buddy CEO David McLauchlan, Connexion reached out to Seattle-based General UI. After brief negotiations, General UI got to work. Thompson says that as Connexion grew their development team, engineers would fly out to Seattle to work directly at General UI’s headquarters, and by turns General UI developers would fly to Melbourne to deliver knowledge transfer and guidance.
Five months later, Flex hit the market. Two months after that, Connexion won a contract with General Motors to deliver a new platform offering across their nationwide dealer network.
Connexion’s Flex Becomes GM’s Commercial Link
“I got an email from our CEO that said ‘Hey, Connexion has a need, can you be on the ground in detroit to meet them there in a week?’” says General UI Australia Country Manager Kaine Robertson. “It was two or three days of just a deep dive to define the ask.”
It was May of 2015, and GM first needed a rebranded front end to debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas—just six months from that initial meeting. The product would be called Commercial Link. General UI got to work again.
Show-stopping tech, on-time and easy to use.
The deadline was hit, and the front-end demo debuted at CES, garnering high interest and lauded as “show-stopping tech” by Business Insider.
Next came the adaptation of Flex’s backend to GM’s Onstar telematics system. GM wanted the real-time data processing function able to handle 100,000 vehicles in the first year. General UI lead project developer Ian Walker-Sperber flew to Melbourne to work on this problem directly and support the growing Connexion team.
“The idea was just for him to do knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing sessions,” says Connexion’s Thompson. “But in the end he was basically our quasi-staff development lead. He helped me troubleshoot problems and white-boarded a bunch of stuff.”
Commercial Link Delivered
Collaboratively, General UI and Connexion designed, architected, and developed a sophisticated IoT solution—from data ingestion and processing, APIs, and an insights engine, to the customer dashboard that’s now available for use with millions of General Motors vehicles.
“General UI was great with the UI/UX,” says Thompson. “We get a lot of comments on that. It’s easy to navigate and really simple. That’s what we wanted. We didn’t want to overcomplicate it. We just wanted to get whatever data we could [into] a web portal that would be easy for small businesses to use and understand. The biggest successes of the project in my mind were the design of the products and the speed to market. We had no resources and we went to General UI, an established company and team, and straight away they picked it up and ran with it.”
- Flex app earned ongoing Commercial Link partnership with General Motors
- Five-month build time
- Consistent user and press accolades
- Groundbreaking IoT technology
- International multi-team development coordination
About General Motors
General Motors has been pushing the limits of transportation and technology for over 100 years. Today, we are in the midst of a transportation revolution. And we have the ambition, the talent and the technology to realize the safer, better and more sustainable world we want.
Connexion Telematics is an ASX listed Internet of Things (IoT) technology company revolutionising smart car technology for the automotive industry.
GenUI is a software product engineering firm solving complex technical challenges for technology and software companies – or those who want to become them.
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