"In 15 to 20 years--at the latest--human driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways."

This stark prediction comes from someone who knows a thing or two about cars: Bob Lutz, a former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors. Lutz also held senior executive positions with Ford, Chrysler, BMW, and Opel.

In a recent Automotive News article, "Kiss the Good Times Goodbye," Lutz predicts a scenario whereby autonomous vehicles and trains rule the highways--once the world figures out 99.9 percent of vehicle accidents occur because of human error.

"The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command," Lutz told Automotive News. "You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you'll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway. On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn't matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation."

Customer centricity hits the fast lane

As the automotive industry continues its rapid transformation, many different business opportunities arise--and leading tech vendors are well positioned to help unleash these new-found, revenue-generating innovations.

For business software provider SAP, this means enabling a customer-first mentality, which was discussed during a recent SAP Radio broadcast about the future of cars.

"It's about understanding the individual needs by addressing customers in marketing, sales and service processes in the right way to deliver individualized cars," says Stefan Krauss, General Manager for Discrete Manufacturing Industries at SAP. "This affects the future of manufacturing and how supply chain processes have to operate in a very efficient way to support all those new kinds of businesses."

Krauss says consumer tastes are changing. It's less important how much horsepower a car may have versus how many connected features it has to make drivers more comfortable when getting from point A to B.

"A lot of automotive companies right now are running new capabilities in a kind of startup mentality to test what connected cars can mean for them," Krauss says. "Is it about supporting services like helping customers to find the right parking lot? Is it about helping customers to refill the car and do the payment processes in a more convenient way? Or is it also about how can customers in the future buy a car?"

Mojio makes the connection

Kenny Hawk, CEO of connected car platform provider Mojio, is also bearing down on the idea of putting the customer first in a new world of autonomous and connected vehicles.

According to Hawk, a rising number of big car manufacturers are beginning to understand the value of connected cars, unleashing an explosion of data that previously had been hidden.

"Our company has gone from zero to 400,000 subscribers just over the past eight months and it's accelerating because people want their cars connected so they can have high-speed Wi-Fi and the safety and security of knowing where their family and employees are while making sure the car is safe and ready to roll," Hawk says.

Based in Palo Alto and Vancouver, British Columbia, Mojio bills itself as a cloud software platform provider for connected cars, making it easier for mobile operators around the world to offer connected car services. Consumers could walk into T-Mobile store, for instance, and sign up for Mojio's service, and within a few minutes their car is now a modern, connected car.

Hawk says there are two types of business outcomes from a service like Mojio: dollars and cents, yes, but also a human outcome in terms of saving lives.

"Cars are the number one killer of teens between 16 and sent 20 in America," Hawk says. "Teen driver deaths have been on the rise steadily for the last five years since video and Snapchat and YouTube have come out and unfortunately teens are still hooked on those even when they get into the car."

Hawk says punishing teens is not working.

"Taking the keys away, telling them not to do it--none of that works," he says. "What does work is having a coach that's always there with the teen and having them get an impartial view of how are they actually driving."

Through Mojio's connected services, Hawk says teens actually change their behavior; 20 percent reduction in speeding; 60 percent reduction in phone use, and it's all tied to rewards. By doing things like sticking to the speed limit on the freeway or driving a hundred miles in the city without any harsh breaking, they might get a free tank of gas from mom or a gift certificate to Nike from dad.

"It actually works," Hawk says. "The outcome is saving cars, saving the damage of collision, but more importantly saving lives. I've got two teen daughters and that's really important to me."