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More than half of automotive companies believe they can win the battle for the dashboards against the tech giants all alone. And yet 46% still expect a more than 16% boost in revenues in the next two years from adding partner ecosystems.

These are the headline finding from a study by technology consultancy BearingPoint into digital strategies and partner ecosystems within the global automotive sector.

It found that half of automotive companies have clearly defined digital business strategies in place and are implementing them, while 49% remain in the planning phases. Over half (59%) identify business model innovation and introducing products and services as key tenets of their digital strategies.

Working with ecosystem partners, they realise they can quickly generate new revenue streams and launch far more compelling products and customer experiences before start-ups and the tech giants beat them to it.

“Automakers understand the impact that emerging technologies trends like connected cars, autonomous drive and mobility-as-a-service will have on their businesses,” said Matthias Loebich, global leader of production industries at BearingPoint. “Many also understand the need for partners who can marshal investment, IP assets and provide complementary digital skills and capabilities. But a slim majority – 52% – are living in the past, clinging to a world in which a walled garden protected innovation from competitors. Shedding this default mindset is the number one challenge for automotive companies who want to capitalise co-innovation and the digital ecosystem business model opportunity.”

Automotive companies have high expectations of the value that partner ecosystems will deliver to their businesses – 46% anticipate a more than 16% revenue growth in just two years. Of that, 24% predict an even bigger bump of between 21 and 30% over the same timeframe.

But for all the talk of new partner-driven revenue streams, most automotive companies believe they can go it alone – only 48% felt that to be successful they needed to develop and manage a clearly defined partner ecosystem. The potential reason: 70% of automotive companies feel that the complexity that comes with partner ecosystems may lead to consumer confusion over the brand.

“Slow execution of digital strategies reflects conservative views on owning the customer relationship and collaboration in the automotive sector,” said Angus Ward, CEO of digital platforms at BearingPoint. “Automotive companies have relied on franchise dealerships to own the customer relationship. In digital, having a full view of customer needs and using it to drive co-innovation with a complementary set of ecosystem partners is how the model works. But in today’s digital world, where the competition is not only traditional automakers but giant web-scale technology companies, they must more rapidly embrace open ecosystem collaboration with multiple partners to get that breadth of innovation. To thrive, they need to have a clear picture of what the customer wants in order to find white space for creating compelling products whilst staying front of mind for customers to keep their brands relevant.”

Positively, automotive companies have a strong focus on growing partnerships with digital disruptors; 29% partner with them today, but 41% expect to be partnering with digital disruptors in the next two years. By partnering with these entities, automotive companies can continually develop and sell digital services that will generate new recurring revenues streams from the connected customer.

The number one challenge facing automotive companies is having the right technology in place to manage monetisation across the partner ecosystem (59%). All their technology is geared to the walled garden of their enterprise rather than wider, external ecosystems.

More than half (57%) also noted that, with IT landscapes built on traditional linear value chains rather than multi-sided business models, there was difficulty in identifying the right technology to manage a partner ecosystem, as well as overcoming the spaghetti of a complex IT environment (48%).

“While there are a number of technological barriers to realising the benefits of partner ecosystems, these are functional, soluble challenges,” said Loebich. “The real problem is the mindset of legacy inertia that seemingly infects half the automotive sector. This should act as a rallying cry for those automotive companies that have more contemporary attitudes to partnership and innovation. The spoils are significant, if they move quickly.”

The primary research was commissioned by BearingPoint and conducted by Coleman Parkes in March and April 2018. The automotive sample comprised 90 executives representing enterprise automotive companies across Europe, Asia and the USA. In addition, 435 executives across the telecoms, automotive, transport, banking and insurance sectors were also surveyed, to help rank the progress of automotive companies against other industries driving significant digital change.

BearingPoint is an independent management and technology consultancy with European roots and a global reach. The firm has a global consulting network with more than 10,000 people and supports clients in over 75 countries.


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