Egon Zehnder
Search
Select region
Close filter
Featured Insight

Digital Meets Metal: How Automotive OEMs Stay In The Driver’s Seat

Could outside players seize control of the automotive industry?

Digital innovators from the Silicon Valley are noisily shaking up the automotive world. This has led some to wonder: Could outside players seize control of the automotive industry?

Not likely. Traditional automotive companies have plenty of what it takes – digital abilities as well as deep engineering expertise. But make no mistake, we’re dealing with a two-speed marketplace. On the one hand we have the automotive tradition of incremental progress and obsessive dedication to detail, quality and reliability, leading ultimately to… perfect shut-lines! While that may be something of a cliché, it’s a fair description. On the other hand we have Silicon Valley companies that may invest a mere 140,000 dollars in an app and away they go, without worrying whether it’s perfect. At that price automotive companies can’t even produce a component, let alone an innovative new product.

As digital meets metal, automotive is challenged to combine the best of these worlds by blending its tradition of engineering integrity with a fresh commitment to risk taking and rapid innovation. An Automotive OEM might be tempted to simply hire a bright mind from Silicon Valley to serve as its new Chief Digital Officer, then say: “OK, now we’re digital.” Of course, that is not nearly enough. Automotive OEMs and their suppliers must shape new cultures within their companies to accommodate work at both speeds.

Harmonizing automotive with digital will take some doing. The shift begins with objectively assessing and then actively developing current automotive leaders’ potential to drive deep strategic change and build more open cultures that effectively integrate diverse expertise. By fostering internal environments that value idea and information sharing, while also forging more mutually beneficial partnerships with a wider range of external suppliers, the automotive industry can become more hospitable to fresh ideas and rapid innovation. That is how Automotive OEMs stay in the driver’s seat in a digital world.

More information on our Automotive practice can be found on our website. You may also like to read our paper on the Connected Car.

Christian Rosen, an automotive industry veteran, leads the global Automotive Practice at Egon Zehnder, the world’s leading privately owned executive search firm and talent management consultancy. This post draws from comments Rosen offered during a reception hosted by Automotive News (German edition) at the 2015 IAA Cars International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany.

Topics Related to this Article

Related content

Beyond Keeping the Lights On

Beyond Keeping the Lights On

Industrial

Senior P&L leaders are forced to make difficult choices with regard to their employees, suppliers, customers, and business partners. Here's how they are tackling… Read more

Charting the Future of Mobility and Automation

Charting the Future of Mobility and Automation

Digital

Leading a mobility revolution requires leaders who can balance the vision of what is possible and what their customers, employees, and stakeholders desire. Hear… Read more

The Great Digital Opportunity: Technology Officers in the Age of COVID-19

The Great Digital Opportunity: Technology Officers in the Age of COVID-19

Technology Officers

As businesses rapidly embraced technology to enable remote work and preserve business continuity, technology officers see a new task for the weeks and months… Read more

Changing language

Close icon

You are switching to an alternate language version of the Egon Zehnder website. The page you are currently on does not have a translated version. If you continue, you will be taken to the alternate language home page.

Continue to the website

Back to top