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The future of applications in automotive: Three strategies for winning the digital battle

Automotive companies dealing with disruptive innovation and digital customers must rethink how they build and develop applications.


The automotive industry has always been open to innovation. However, the explosive growth of digital technology and its pervasive use by consumers around the world in their daily lives is having a profound impact on car manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers as purchasing behaviors are changing significantly and there is a growing demand for connected vehicle services.

On one hand, OEMs need high stability and reliability in production and logistics, as well as high agility, flexibility and a desire for change to provide these new services. On the other hand, OEMs are competing with customer-facing digital experiences from other consumer product companies. Auto companies need to provide an integrated customer experience and build this on top of their existing landscape.

To win the digital battle, OEMs need to fundamentally rethink how they build and deploy applications, as well as how to integrate existing systems and processes.

Key Findings

Three application strategies are especially important for automotive companies as they look to compete with agility and speed and satisfy the demands of their digital customers:


Developing applications that are more modular or component based and API driven, enabling quick composition of functional applications.


Embedding software intelligence in applications to manage growing volume, velocity and complexity, and to maximize the business value of internal and external data—including that from the physical world.


Creating applications capable of connecting with other applications both inside and outside the enterprise boundary of the OEM.


Today’s business world is increasingly high velocity and software driven. Sooner or later, these two realities will push every automotive company to rethink its potential and reinvent itself. We urge companies to begin that reinvention today, starting with a fundamentally new approach to the business of applications.

Be prepared to face a number of technical questions and decisions as you start that journey: Standard software versus customized; closed versus open innovation; open versus proprietary platforms; service-oriented versus event-based architectures.

The IT organization must be prepared to define and execute business strategy through software that is liquid, intelligent and connected. For its part, the business must strive to gain more technology savvy as it assumes a bigger role in building software.