BLOG – An industry of opportunity

For many businesses and individuals, the springtime is one of change and new beginnings. Whether it’s the start of a new financial year, or simply the start of the new season, it’s a time that’s filled with much potential and the promise of new life.

And yet, despite being in existence for more than a century, the automotive industry certainly has a similar feel at present. Indeed, we’re arguably seeing the biggest and most rapid set of changes the industry has ever seen.

Whether it’s the extinction of the internal combustion engine and the shift to electrification of the vehicle parc, the introduction of a swathe of new brands building cars for the very first time, or the use of AI in designing and manufacturing the cars of tomorrow, there’s a host of new and exciting implications, challenges and opportunities for those involved in manufacturing and quality roles.

Of course, change and disruption to any industry is nothing new. And with that change, invariably it comes hand in hand with a sizeable slice of fear until we get used to the changes, see the benefits and the changes become mainstream.

The fear and scepticism related to change is not restricted to those on the periphery of a subject. Take mobile phones as an example. Back in 1985, AT&T commissioned a world-renowned consultancy to give them an estimate of the number of mobile phone users in the USA in the year 2000. AT&T were at the time, the biggest phone company in the USA and a leader in the development of mobiles, and they wanted to understand how much money to invest. The consultancy experts estimated that there would be 900,000 in use. The actual figure was 109 million!

History is littered with similar tales. Steve Ballmer at Microsoft similarly underestimated the potential of Apple in 2007 when he stated that “there is no chance that the iPhone is going to get any market share – no chance”. Equally, Kodak revenues in 2000 were $1.4billiion yet it went bankrupt in 2012 because of the move to digital photography – which they even invented!

So, for anyone looking on with scepticism about the levels of change and disruption that we face in the automotive industry, the warning signs are there.

Of course, for those with a more optimistic outlook, the changes that lie ahead represent an enormous amount of opportunity. Even just looking at one element such as battery technology, one can start to see the enormous benefits that it can bring. From job creation, skills development, economic growth, safety enhancements and a simplified supply chain – there’s a host of opportunities for both individuals and companies to embrace.

The full extent of the changes that lie ahead are impossible to predict, yet what we can say confidently is that regardless of any technological and software developments that may affect the automotive industry, we will still need a host of highly skilled engineers and technicians to design, build and service the cars of the future.

Furthermore, given the size, scale and pace of the change, it will be harder for individuals or companies to survive, let alone thrive by going it alone. Collaboration and partnerships will be the way forward.

Against this backdrop, I’m incredibly proud to have been intimately involved in the re-shaping of G&P’s business model of the last few years. What we have now is a team of highly skilled experts that can work with a multitude of partners by being deployed in a flexible manner.  They add significant value within the supply chain and throughout the prototype, production and vehicle customer acceptance processes. It’s a powerful and compelling offering that we are confident is fit for purpose for the industry of tomorrow in multiple sectors.

As leaders in your own businesses, I’d urge you to take action now. My key learnings on the issue of change, developed over an international career spanning some 40 years would be the following:

  1. Understand the new landscape in front of you
  2. Embrace technology
  3. Adopt a customer centric approach
  4. Explore new business models
  5. Leadership and success is about a fusion of trust and technology.

Above all else, I would focus on a small number of priorities, build a high performance team and deploy actions with decisiveness and speed.

To summarise though and leave you with one final thought, I’d like to share some words once spoken by Bill Gates on the subject of change.

“We always over-estimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.

Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”


Geoff Cousins

Chairman – G&P Group Holdings Ltd

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