Thoughts from Cenex-LCV 2021 Innovation Is Being Driven By Collaborative Ecosystems

I am a great believer that two minds are better than one. When you get the opportunity to speak with different people you never know where that spark will come that sows the seed of a great idea. This is why I am delighted that we are starting to get back to live events and the chance to get out there, meet people and get that connection that cannot be reproduced over video.

Last month I got the chance to attend Cenex-LCV and jumped at the chance to do what I love, talk to people. For the whole day I networked around the room, meeting up with old friends, making new ones and meeting a plethora of inspirational people.

There’s No Shortage of Innovation

From my ‘day of talking’ it was clear that there is no shortage of innovation in the UK. I met some fascinating people from different parts of the automotive world, each of them with their own specific expertise and stories of innovation.

As I left the event, I was inspired by the collective brain power that was at this event and the potential of this to make a real difference. The only question is whether we are doing enough to harness this, combine this and create a collaborative ecosystem that can accelerate innovation.

The Digital Blockers to Innovation

There is much talk about digitalisation being the way to accelerate innovation, and this is true and something I preach on a daily basis. However, digitalisation can also be a major blocker to creating productive ecosystems.  Let me explain.

To widely generalise the automotive industry is divided. There are the large established manufacturers of vehicles and then there is the mass of smaller inventors, innovators and manufacturers of components that feed the industry.

The large guys design the vision, the smaller guys design what is possible, but if collectively they worked closer together, then perhaps they could develop what was truly amazing.

It is not a case of lack of collaboration, but a case of legacy systems and processes getting in the way of this collaboration and procrastinates the speed of innovation.

Break The Rules

How many times have you wanted to onboard a new supplier only to be forced through a bureaucratic process that takes months?  How many times has an innovative small supplier simply walked away as the number of hoops they were being asked to jump through was just not worth the effort?

It is often the case that processes exist because that is the way our systems were designed and work. We are digitally being kept in the past which is not what we need for our future. The answer is to break the rules, remove process steps that are no longer relevant and look to turn sequential workflows into expedited parallel tracks, and if your systems won’t support that, then overlay a front-end portal that removes the friction that slows you down; it really is that simple.

Bridge The Digital Gap

I clearly saw from my day at Cenex-LCV that what is driving the industry forward is collaborative eco-systems that share ideas and work together to drive innovation. However, it is often the ability to share data, information and designs that slows down progress.

There exists a gap in the systems being used by the major manufacturers and the smaller eco-system suppliers and this creates disconnect. Designs cannot be shared in real-time – information does not freely flow and data is restricted to silos.

For collaborative eco-systems to deliver on their full potential, these digital gaps need to be bridged. We have been helping consortiums to do this by creating hubs and portals that enable disparate sources of information to be unified in a single place and for access to be provided in a way that bridges the gaps between the different applications that are being used.

This is an Exciting Time For Automotive

This is an exciting era for the automotive sector, the scope for differentiation through innovation is now greater than ever before. However, as I mentioned at the start, two minds are always greater than one, and I truly believe that success will come from a collaborative eco-system and to enable this requires a different way of thinking about digital connections.

Written by Frances Hamilton, Founder Direc-Tec

News & Insights

Where it all started

In February 2016 a colleague and I gained access into the hallowed portals of a large global pharmaceutical company’s manufacturing heart.

It was clear, even within the PLC head office, that the manufacturing division was a close knit group and it was very difficult to gain entry. Once on-site its clear that it’s a close, familial environment and the manufacturing team support and protect each other; great for a company that produces a high specification range of products where quality and consistency are paramount.