Putting the pedal to the metal in the automotive industry: boosting agility and competitiveness in a disruptive market

Like many other sectors in recent years, the automotive industry is experiencing a period of enormous and transformative disruption.

The industry’s historical business model – based on manufacturing and selling a product, then selling another product when that one becomes obsolete – is evolving into something very different. Automotive brands must address changing consumer expectations in a market that is increasingly moving away from products and towards platforms.

If we look at the most competitive companies in other disrupted industries, such as Amazon in the retail space, we see an almost obsessive focus on the customer experience. This presents automotive brands with some pressing questions: how do we meet a new generation of consumer expectations about design and user experience, and how can we differentiate ourselves on that? Can we leverage our brand association and heritage, or will it hold us back? As consumer expectations of the way they use cars keeps changing, how do we make sure our business model continues to be relevant?

Focusing on true differentiation

As so many businesses are finding, automotive brands will increasingly need to focus scarce resources on the elements of the business that genuinely differentiate them and collaborate with partners and a distributed supply chain for the areas that do not.

Tesla is a prime example of a company that has done just this. It grew from a small disruptive start-up which began production of its first model in 2009, to the world’s most valuable car company by 2020.

Much of this success was founded on the way its business operates. Tesla has always had a strong focus on using the very best technology, but the company has accepted the limits of its own resources.

It embraces the idea that it there is no need to develop all the technology and product components itself. So, Tesla focused its resources on the key elements that needed extensive R&D, such as the battery, and collaborated with partners for everything else. This accelerated its ability to bring new offerings to market and helped create a product that felt ahead of its time.

Boosting agility with data

Data is another key strategic area for automotive brands.

Most industries are beginning to recognise the importance of a fast data cycle for business agility and organisational effectiveness – 91% of IT leaders believe the ability to quickly acquire, analyse and act on data determines future technology leaders[1].

Completing and repeating this data cycle at speed allows automotive businesses to gain critical insights into all aspects of their business. A fuller understanding of areas such as customer expectations, buying trends, user feedback, vehicle performance and factory efficiency allows companies to respond quickly to feedback and market developments, and to keep ahead of the competition.

To achieve this, automotive brands need to develop the right technology platform – one that delivers a combination of performance, cost and security that enables real-time data processes, which accelerate time to market and provide truly differentiated customer experiences.

A platform for the future

As the fastest, most secure platform for next-gen apps, the Lumen Platform is a critical foundation for businesses that are seeking to harness the power of data and of emerging technologies.

Its adaptive architecture is designed for latency-sensitive apps and data-intensive, real-time processes. By enabling a rapid data cycle, this helps automotive brands improve operations and processes, drive new ideas to market faster, and identify trends more quickly. At the same time, removing the challenge of running a mission-critical platform frees automotive companies to focus on the areas they can achieve real differentiation in.

The future of the automotive industry will be built on large-scale infrastructure projects, such as global networks of charging points for electric cars, and the communications networks supporting autonomous vehicles. As the owner and operator of one of the world’s largest and most interconnected platforms, Lumen is providing the flexibility, reliability, security and global footprint needed to power the automotive revolution.

Lumen has extensive experience working with organisations to weather huge business challenges – right now we’re helping automotive companies develop autonomous navigation and the next generation manufacturing processes necessary for them to thrive on a global scale. And with nearly 100 years as a platform service provider, we’re a strong partner to businesses moving into an unfamiliar service-oriented world.

In my role as a technology strategist I provide advisory briefings and lead collaborative workshops on issues related to transport/mobility, sustainability and industry 4.0. We welcome the opportunity to share our experiences and continue to learn from automotive companies that are helping to shape the future of transport.


Here you can find the first blog in this series.

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[1] https://assets.lumen.com/is/content/Lumen/global-trend-report-4th-industrial-revolution-4IR