By Alex Smoker, Principal
Every company can now be considered a technology company. Digitisation has led to technology and technology talent being a vital part of every core team of every successful business, whatever their sector. Conversely, this means that core technology businesses are now diversifying, leading to growth of competition in sectors that were not traditionally technology led.
Brands and global identities of many firms are changing rapidly and none so much as in the automotive sector where lines are blurring and ‘the norm’ is being compromised by increased competition, massive investment and huge leaps in development.
The shift can be identified as originating from the core technology giants, who have infiltrated the automotive market bringing firstly necessary technology – think Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure- but have then continued to drive diversification in the Tier One marketplace and challenge the existing supplier ecosystem by providing a shorthand route to consumer technology for straight to market vehicle enhancements.
The automotive sector is fighting back with its own core solutions, based around software modelling, which only a few years ago was completely outside of the scope of an automotive supplier. Mainstream automotive manufacturers are working on solutions to unify technology and software, via a vehicle cloud platform, building an automotive specific tech stack that can be deployed across all vehicle manufacturers, in an attempt to regain market share from the tech sector. In parallel, the core technology markets have of course seen an opportunity to expand their existing strategies; Google’s Android Automotive System and the next gen Apple Car Play are more than just mirroring systems of your mobile device. These apps work on a vehicle processor and can control everything within the car: fuel level, climate and so on. Current automotive Tier One’s are suggesting this move to uniformity across vehicle software models will take the identity away from different manufacturers vehicles. In theory, your in-cabin experience in a Ferrari could be the same as a Ford. Where that leaves the consumer market remains to be seen.
The move of talent from core technology roles to the automotive sector is now driving a talent shortage, and that will only increase if sector verticals continue to diversify. The lines between adjacent ecosystems are becoming less obvious, and the automotive sector needs to market itself effectively to encourage talent away from the core tech sectors. It might take a risk to move away from traditional recruitment strategies, but it is an essential risk for automotive Tier One’s to stay relevant in this rapidly moving market. Investing heavily in apprenticeships is also a great start to assist in plugging talent gap longer term, as firms see the benefits of on site and on demand education, as opposed to the more traditional university model of recent years. Remote working does not encourage development of soft skills, and a forward thinking and engaged automotive firm can look to enhance their employee offering with a great apprenticeship and training and development programme.