Revving the engine in Stuttgart: Accenture in the heart of the German auto zone

In July, Accenture announced a new Customer Experience Center in Stuttgart, Germany, focused on working with automobile manufacturers and their partners to accelerate the future of connected cars. With seemingly every IT services vendor and consultancy rolling out initiatives around automobiles, TBR spoke last week with Accenture’s Axel Schmidt, senior managing director and industry managing director, Mobility, about the new center to better understand why Accenture chose Stuttgart, how this center will differ from others, and what will be the core competencies and additional value the company brings to clients by having this new space.

According to Schmidt, customer behavior trends across the automotive industry, including increased specialization, expectations around connectivity, and even the number of times a buyer visits a dealership, have further emphasized the need for automakers to enhance their marketing and sales capabilities, a core consulting strength for Accenture. In combination with its manufacturing and supply chain expertise, the company can help carmakers understand what is possible with emerging technologies and what clients are increasingly demanding. In answer to the question, “Why Stuttgart?” Schmidt explained that an Accenture acquisition, Mackevision, was founded in the city and had strong ties to the automotive sector there. Schmidt anticipates Accenture will expand the center concept to other car hubs, and possibly other related industries such as travel and transportation, based on the company’s engagements with other manufacturers.

When pressed on how Accenture and its automotive clients have responded to the changing market for cars, including an increase in car sharing and the (hoped-for) emergence of self-driving cars, Schmidt noted that Accenture recognizes that “brand strength alone will not ensure future success in mobility.”  As Accenture has advised, clients that “want to gain relevant market shares in the market of mobility services need to act now and reposition their brand by using their sales reach.” In even broader terms, traditional manufacturers, according to Schmidt, “need to embrace new platform- and customer-centric technologies in order to remain successful. Furthermore, car manufacturers need to pivot their business model wisely from building and selling cars to offering mobility.” For some time now, Accenture has advanced the idea of “the new,” to include promising “the customer a seamless mobility experience by offering him in a comfy and affordable manner that kind of mobility he needs.”

Our discussion with Schmidt ended with a look to the future, when automobiles are essentially “software with hardware wrapped around it” and they become the “ultimate mobile device.” (TBR wonders if BMW will update its slogan.) Schmidt said the current 150 million lines of code per advanced automobile will be closer to 1 billion lines of code in an autonomous vehicle. Given everyday experiences with software in other elements of life — and the trend toward “low code” in some IT environments — I think a niche market will grow for no-code, unconnected, software-free cars. Keep that red Barchetta’s motor in working condition.    

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