1. Could you tell us more about any projects you are working on currently and/or your area of expertise?
I am an experienced Commercial Strategy Senior Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, with a history of linking commercial opportunities to product offer and corporate strategy. Today, I am responsible for defining the commercial offering for products and content, and the go-to-market strategy for the global JLR portfolio, leveraging analytics and innovations to gain market shares.
Today automotive companies have a call for tough decisions. The unstable market condition and the threat of new entrants require companies to reassess their strategy and product offering. Therefore, we will have to carefully evaluate what to prioritize and what to cease. JLR has started this journey last year, when announcing its restructuring program.
Within the overall transformation, I have led the commercial project, identifying and resolving inefficiencies within the offer structure. In the last 12 months, I have increased the profitability of the products on sale by £ 180 million by reviewing the offer structure and prioritizing content within the vehicle specification based on their customer relevance and profitability, during a time of significant disruption in the supply chain.
2. Do you see any strategies that the automotive industry can adopt to accelerate recovery post-COVID 19?
The automotive industry needs to survive through the current COVID-19 crisis. Local shutdowns have impacted sales volumes, disrupted the supply-chain, and increased the pressure on manufacturing operations, enlarging the need to avoid cash drainage. The pandemic has increased the urgency to return to positive cashflows and the business needs to accelerate decisions to drastically improve profitability.
Firstly, today automotive companies have a call for tough decisions. The unstable market conditions and the threat of new entrants require companies to reassess their strategy and product offering. Therefore, we will have to carefully evaluate what to prioritize and what to cease. JLR has started this journey last year, when announcing its restructuring program.
Secondly, the business needs to rethink its model and operations. Customers, in fact, no longer look at cars for their attributes, but they rather consider the quality of service provision by distributors and manufacturers. Hence, car makers need to start identifying how to transform the customer journey and focus on what really improves customers’ experience of the product throughout its lifecycle.
3.How can companies better anticipate risk and increase supply chain resilience post-COVID 19?
The automotive industry is going through a tremendous transformation. Organizations of all types are feeling the pressure to simultaneously wrestle with surviving the immediate crisis and planning for a radically changed future. Businesses today need to survive the COVID-19 crisis, and at the same time plan for the upcoming challenges of electrification, autonomous driving and shared mobility. The real challenge then, is to constantly identify how to balance the focus between the short-term challenges and the long-term opportunities, to identify risks in the marketspace.
To balance priorities, OEMs and their supply chain shall remain agile. In turbulent times, agility is essentially the capability of seizing opportunities ahead of everyone else, by being able to take effective and quick decisions according to an identified plan. Therefore, supply chain and OEMs must maintain an open communication channel, concur direction of travel together and ensure the necessary resources are committed to the agreed plan.
4. How do you think industry can prepare its workforce for the current and upcoming challenges?
People, in general, are slow to adapt to changes. Industry, therefore, shall always consider that organizations are slow to transform their operating models. Hence, as industry moves into turbulent times, change management processes become fundamental moving forward. Within change management process, organizations must always consider how to bring their workforce together in the transformation journey, by communicating clearly the business priorities, cascading decisions promptly to everyone, and following up on all actions coming up when implementing change.
5. How is consumer demand for automotive shifting, and how will it look by 2030?
Customers no longer look at cars for their attributes, but they rather consider the quality of service provision by distributors and manufacturers. Car-markers need to start identifying how to transform the customer journey and focus on what really improve customers’ experience of the product through-out its lifecycle. Hence, focusing solely on the product might not be enough to meet consumers’ needs in the future.
Moving forward, customers will access vehicles in multiple ways. The advent of mobility services enables the use of different channels to get a car and to avoid going to a dealership. It means that vehicles in the future will have to be available through a multitude of services. Therefore, customers will be engaged through more sales channels than today.
Secondly, customers will look at cars as a productivity tool. They will expect the vehicle to do more functions than simply a means of transportation: they want to reduce lifestyle inefficiencies to the bare minimum, and the car can help towards this ambition by providing a multitude of connected services.
Finally, customers expect to be able to go anywhere with their vehicle. It means that the vehicle needs to be capable of accessing urban areas and complying with stricter emission regulations, providing enough capabilities to fulfil lifestyle needs, as well as driving in all weather conditions and accommodating different loads.
6. What are the main ways in which digitalisation is creating opportunities for automotive manufacturing?
Digitalisation in the form of connected car technologies are transforming the customer journey today. Customers, in fact, shall be connected throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle ensuring their needs are met every time they use the car, more than just at the time of purchase.
OEMs today are exploring the benefits of such digital transformation. For example, today, they are already updating vehicle software over the air, continuously providing customers with the latest content and fixes on their vehicle. Tomorrow, they will be predictively providing fixes over the air, meaning customers will no longer have to pause their journey to repair their car. Such transformation improves customer satisfaction (less inefficiency), while reducing overall costs to the business.
Finally, there is a significant market potential for offering car services remotely. Customers in fact will interact more with their car and they will expect new services to be provided in the car, such as media content (i.e., Spotify, Netflix), car utilities and lifestyle content. Car makers are best placed to develop such marketplace and seize this opportunity.
7. How are future technology trends changing patterns of collaboration with other actors (e.g. technology applications, research institutions, government bodies) for automotive innovation?
The shift towards connectivity, AVs and EVs has required OEMs to diversify their skillset. Therefore, in the last few years OEMS have started to collaborate more with external bodies to develop their knowledge centre. They have done in the following ways: (1) collaborated in funded projects with suppliers, university and local government, (2) started their own VCs to fund start-ups to include new ideas in the business and (3) adopted strategic sourcing activities with suppliers to access new technology first in the market.
8. What are the key ways that suppliers can start preparing now for the shift towards EVs?
Suppliers are preparing the shift to EVs. They are recognizing ahead of time the change in market dynamics and already have started to prepare themselves by (1) ceasing all R&D first and activities secondly in specific technology areas (i.e. diesel engine components), (2) committing efforts on electric components and (3) collaborating with government and other stakeholders in clusters to prepare infrastructure and technology for the shift towards EV.
9. Why are second-life battery solutions important for electric vehicle manufacturers?
OEMs today spend significant effort to plan their overall corporate sustainability. Products manufactured are a key factor of the sustainability of the car industry, and therefore they need to ensure already today, that the vehicle produced is fully recyclable (i.e. 95% of the content/weight of a conventional cars is recycled today). Therefore, the shift to EVs requires OEMs to guarantee the recyclability of the battery in order to meet their sustainability targets.
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