Modern technology presents automobile manufacturers with new challenges. In order to meet these challenges, some companies are setting up cooperative ventures.
Modern technology presents automobile manufacturers with new challenges. In order to meet these challenges, some companies are setting up cooperative ventures.
( Source: Daimler)

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Coopetition: Together instead of opposition

| Author/ Editor: Simon Oberle* / Florian Richert

Modern technology not only makes cooperation between companies across traditional borders possible - the platform economy and the pressure of large suppliers also make it necessary.

Digitization is such a comprehensive concept that no single company is capable of sustainably securing a leading position in the world market. Therefore, it is right for German car manufacturers such as Daimler and BMW, to establish joint ventures to strengthen multimodal transport or improve battery charging times. The opponents are not General Motors, Ford or Toyota, but Google and Apple or Chinese companies such as Tencent and Alibaba. They have a big advantage in software, customer data, and artificial intelligence.

Simon Oberle ist Head of Future Management Consulting & DigiLabs bei Sopra Steria Consulting.
Simon Oberle ist Head of Future Management Consulting & DigiLabs bei Sopra Steria Consulting.
(Source: Sopra Steria Consulting)

Yet the market power of the big Internet companies is not only reflected in this "Vorsprung durch Technik": the tech giants are considered to be more willing to take risks and - due to their economic strength - are also in a position to dispense financially with a project for a few years. It is interesting to note, that coopetition is not only something for industrial companies with the desire to counter this market power. Cloud providers such as Microsoft or Amazon also rely on alliances - with other technology providers, but also with partners from the automotive industry such as BMW, Daimler or Volkswagen, for instance, to set up an automotive cloud or further develop networked vehicle services.

Coopetition: New momentum through digitization

Coopetition is gaining new momentum in the digital world - especially in the development of network services or software, which at the same time form the basis for new business models. 42 percent of companies see their future as service and platform providers, according to the study "Branchenkompass Automotive" by Sopra Steria Consulting. 39 percent of the decision-makers surveyed expect that the automotive supplier market will no longer exist in its current form in five years because wear and spare parts in modern drives will become less important.

Gartner analyst René Büst sees the recent coopetition initiatives as a "win-win situation": "The announcements showed that the experience of two generations of companies is coming together. Amazon and Microsoft bring digital expertise, BMW and Volkswagen have massive experience with industrial environments". ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer asserts: "The IT groups have the digital competence, we have the industrial domain knowledge. Neither of the two can develop the other competence as quickly as digitalization in industry would require."

The win-win situation does not only apply to singular companies. Nor is there a frontline between industry and technology suppliers. After all, it lies between digitized and non-digitised companies. Those who have not digitized their processes continuously, i.e. who have not set up their organization flexibly and agile enough, will not find their place in the platform economy or co-opetition initiatives.

This article was first published in German by Automobil Industrie.

* Simon Oberle ist Head of Future Management Consulting & DigiLabs bei Sopra Steria Consulting.