Tomorrow We are Driving Computers Which Look Like Cars

 
9789163091391: Tomorrow We are Driving Computers Which Look Like Cars

Yes, I know: maybe one shouldnt write a book of this kind, but I just couldnt stop myself. Why? Because someone had to, with things in the state theyre in. So here I am, a self-proclaimed Auto Messiah, and this is the gospel I preach:

The global auto industry is dying. Manufacturing cars is no longer about offering people a superior means of transportation; its about peddling a heap of irrelevant gizmos. Its about power and glory andnot leastmoney. Its a doomed industry because its hawking a dying product.

Hell-bent on surviving, the industry is restructuring itself around the tenets of a blind faith in mergers and acquisitions. Added competition and capacities are as welcome as cholera. And what is the industry surviving for? To make money and more money, not to develop the car.

Okay, product development is being digitised, but mainly to win time. Extremely bright people are doing brilliant things, but not the right things. Theyre improving a 20th century product by converting it digitally. But theyre not building a digitally conceived transport solution for the next century.

The global car industrys only interest in IT is how it can be exploited to keep their sales figures in the black. Thus, they have no interest in changing the current paradigm or revamping the current world order in terms of transportation.

In the meantime, information technology has become both the leading and the driving force in most industries. But this has escaped the car manufacturers. Either that, or theyd prefer to forget it.

Verily, brethren, the world shall be digitised and connected, and anyone who tries to ignore this commandment is playing with fire. And if we dont use our common sense in the meantime, well soon find ourselves in a turbo-powered world where fast means now.

Without focusing on the crucial aspects of digitisation, no one can gain even a temporary edge. And without focusing on whats necessary (as opposed to whats superfluous) to IT implementation, any effort to stay ahead will be wasted.

All over the world, the car industry is possessed by the demon called Speed, a demon that plays havoc with product development, constantly demanding new sacrifices on the altar of Time-to-Market. But faster doesnt always mean smarter, on the contrary.

Used right, IT knows no limits. Digital innovation will open new vistas and roll out new horizons. But that will require more than just retooling. It will demand a whole new perception of time.

If the global auto industry continues to be possessed by lead-time in every process, not only will it fail to reinvent itself, it will not be able to steer the new technology to its own advantage. It will lose control. In other words, the IT traditionalism that is rife today will lead to the industrys self-induced digital slavery tomorrow.

In the worst imaginable scenario, new actors will gain control of the product, its design and its development. They will even gain control of the supply chain. The new actors will do this because they have the critical skills and know-howand above all, the IT savvyto turn the whole industry inside out and win the game hands-down.

For whom will the new actors be working?
For the automobile industry?
For the information technology industry?
For some other industry?
For themselves?

And, after all, whats really at stake here?

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Bjorn Renneus Guthrie has been active in the world of international management consulting for 20 years and continues to break new ground. After leaving the Stock- holm School of Economics and Business Administration with flying colours in 1979, he has spent most of his time as a corporate management consultant providing management guidance for clients such as Shell, Volvo and AT&T on key issues primarily related to change management and global business development. For the past five years,

Bjorn Renneus Guthrie has specialised in IT Management in general and strategic information technology issues in particular. In this cap- acity he has served in executive positions for corporations such as IBM, besides continuing to operate as a senior consultant advising top management for clients such as Volvo and Electrolux.

Since 1998, Bjorn Renneus Guthrie works for Frontec Konsulter in Gothenburg, where he acts as a Principal Consultant for IT Management. He is an empathic motivator, an innovative educator and a highly competitive professional in his quest for novelty and excellence.

Review:

DECONSTRUCTING TIME-TO-MARKET: NEW BOOK EXPLODES PRECONCEPTIONS

Take John Hausers views on the need to balance strategic priorities, add Bob (Wizard of WOW) Schroers sense of fun, put them together in a book, with many other ingredients, and you might get something close to Bjrn Renneus Guthries manifesto Tomorrow We Are Driving Computers Which Look Like Cars (Frontec AB, 1999). Guthrie, a 20-year veteran of international management consulting, with such firms as Shell, Volvo, AT&T and IBM, and an expert on strategic Information Technology (IT) management, focuses his vision on the automotive industry. The author engaged in wide-ranging conversations and interviews with 40 top automotive managers, executives, designers, developers, gurus and consultants before coming to the radical conclusions he presents in his book. The conceptual core of Guthries work, however, crosses industries, as he presents a deconstruction of the idea of Time-to-Market, and offers a compelling vision of the role of IT in developing breakthrough products.

Guthries premise is that the auto industry as we know it is dying. The present wave of consolidation amounts to larger fish eating smaller fish in a more or less desperate gambit to survive. Modern, large auto developers are, in reality, systems integrators and brand managers, with most of the key systems and technologies outsourced and managed by suppliers. Car manufacturers are offering new products with remarkably similar functionality, distinguished mainly by branding which appeals to emotionalism, such as the appeal of nostalgia. Todays car is essentially the same product Henry Ford fielded in the 1920s four wheels with an internal combustion engine that travels along stretches of paved roads. Software, CD players, internet access, or games in the back seat for the kids does not change the basic concept of the product these are enhancements, not changes in functionality. Guthries believes that this product, in its present form, will not endure beyond the first third of the 21st century. If auto manufacturers are going to survive, then they need to re-think their products in a fundamental way. -- Product Development Best Practices Report (february 2000, volume 7)

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