Whenever talks are held on the future of the automotive sector, most expect to hear about breakthroughs in autonomous driving, to finally remove the chore of steering from A to B from the commuter’s daily To Do list. Yet, while seeing cars with no drivers might still take some time, the automotive industry is consuming endless notepads to find new ways to transform itself.
The recently concluded Geneva International Motor show has seen an old icon of the car industry proposing a new way for car makers to do business, changing, in the foreseeable future, the concept of the car from transportation vehicle to business platform.
Fiat describes this new milestone as an electric mobility solution affordable for all, that ‘democratising’ everything trend-setting is part of the brand’s DNA: “The ABC of cars. Affordable But Cool”.
The stark look of the Fiat Concept Centoventi remains the same for all, produced in just one livery it is a ‘blank canvas’ allowing consumers to personalise the car’s appearance and function to suit their lifestyle and personality. Fiat adds: “The Fiat Concept Centoventi can be constructed just as the owner wishes, inaugurating a new business model involving Mopar – the FCA group division that specialises in accessories, parts and services and enables innovative product personalisation, – the sales network and increasingly digital customers. Except for six features (bumpers, polycarbonate roof, livery, Lingotto instrument cluster, batteries and digital tailgate), which can only be installed at dealerships, the other 114 accessories specially designed by Mopar – including the sound system, the dashboard and door storage compartments, the seat cushions, etc. – can also be purchased on-line and fitted by the customer at his own home. What’s more, some simply structured accessories, such as a cup-holder or a document-holder, for example, can actually be printed using a 3D printer, in the owner’s home, at their dealership or at a specialist printing shop. So this is a new business model for automotive accessories, enabling them to be resold or traded on the Web, nurturing a real community of brand fans or connoisseurs of Fiat’s Italian design, just as with collectors’ items. This new business model is focused on e-Commerce, the virtual market that knows no boundaries.”
Unveiling the Fiat Concept Centoventi at the Geneva International Motor Show, Olivier François, CMO of Fiat Automobiles stated, “…we will be extremely proactive in nurturing the community this vehicle will create, what is key here is the eCommerce platform, the virtual marketplace, [by selecting] the most relevant configurations based on your social profile…this will be the epitome of digital targeting…[aligning] our product cycle with your life cycle”.
The Fiat Concept Centoventi shows how even an industrial-heavy sector can lean towards the evolving needs of consumers, re-thinking spaces, services and experiences to satisfy new demands while generating revenues alongside the life-time of the product.
What Fiat is striving to achieve should be seen as a great example to leaders across industries, leaders who believe that their business model is difficult to re-design, leaders who are still fully focused on incremental improvements rather than daring to get back to the drawing board and re-think what you have to give, which is of great value to your customers.
#Lesson 1: Even the heaviest, most industrialised products can be personalised. If Fiat is able to offer 120 personalised variations, despite the logistical complexity this demands, virtually any industry can think of doing the same.
#Lesson 2: Think beyond your product, think platforms. How can your product or service become the motherboard of a diverse range of business models? For yourself and your partners to profit? Successful companies are identifying such platforms and building on them. Think Nike, with their Nike+ community which is pioneering the way forward.
#Lesson 3: Think Ecosystem. Integrate new technologies into your business platform. Not everything needs to be done by you, you can either leverage other technologies, in the way that Fiat is leveraging 3D printing, and Ikea’s ThisAbles, or you can collaborate with external partners to create an ecosystem.
While big picture conversations on future technological impact need to take place, business leaders should spend the time now understanding how your business model needs to transform. Hiding behind excuses won’t cut it anymore and consumers are already starting to reward companies that dare to change even the most difficult business models.
At the eBusiness Institute, we have extensive experience of working with numerous brands on their digital transformation, from audits and analytics to campaign management and eContent strategies. We understand the importance of an optimised consumer experience to drive your brand’s sales online and offline. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you