Automotive companies are aware that they need to change, but a “digital-ready” culture is missing across much of the industry (Image: Shutterstock)

Changing the corporate culture remains one of the biggest challenges faced by the automotive industry as it attempts to implement its digital transformation.

According to a poll of more than 500 senior auto-industry executives commisioned by consultants KPMG and headhunters Egon Zehnder, companies are aware that they need to change, but haven’t yet been able to establish a “digital-ready culture.”

That’s a problem, because 92% of executives polled believed that their company culture needed to be overhauled to achieve a successful digital transformation. More than half said such culture change hadn’t happened yet.

Other findings from the poll were:

  • Executives are still thinking about digital transformation in terms of process change, with 57% of interviewees citing process change as a prerequisite for digitalization
  • Almost half of the executives said their companies fell in the “early follower” category with regard to implementing artificial intelligence and other digitalization technologies
  • When pursuing digitalization, automotive companies predominantly preferred cooperating with partners from their own industry rather than with disruptive outsiders
  • And 66% said traditional and new business models needed to run “side by side.” Only 34% said they were willing to risk lower short-term returns by switching radically to a digital-ready business model. 

“Our survey clearly shows that the industry is caught up in its traditional ‘product optimization’/tech mindset and ‘I can do it all myself’ approach,” Dieter Becker, the global head of KPMG’s automotive practice, said in a statement. “A clear and revolutionary vision is lacking.”

Christian Rosen, Egon Zehnder’s automotive chief, said a new culture is required to bridge the gap between traditional and digital expertise. Said Rosen: “The industry can meet this challenge by adopting a more open, collaborative style of leadership and creating a culture of self-invention.”