I've spent the last few posts exploring digital business models, and everything that comes along with them. It's easy to spot a digital business model: a company has fundamentally re-created their value proposition for a new world.
Now that my radar is on, I'm finding these everywhere. And there are many, many stories to be told and learned from.
Today's story comes from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), and how they successfully re-invented one of their core business processes (designing and manufacturing vehicles) using a digital business model.
They were able to bring a very successful SUV to market (the Evoque) faster/better/cheaper by creating powerful simulations around 100% of their processes.
By making the leap to a digital, they were able to suddenly compete with the big boys.
The common pattern? Don't simply automate physical processes using technology; re-invent them.
And that's what JLR did.
Are You A Car Enthusiast?
I am. I love cars.
I read car magazines scrupulously, I'm active on car forums, etc. And -- thanks to modern technology -- there seems to be no shortage of pretty amazing cars these days.
For car manufacturers, it's a brutally competitive market -- there's so much good product chasing a finite number of car buyers.
One of the hot segments that I track is the luxury/sports SUV. Think Porsche Cayenne, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the like. Although these cars have great capabilities (power, traction, handling, ground clearance, etc.) it's really about making a lifestyle statement.
Trust me on this.
Enter the Evoque. When first shown as a concept at the 2007 Detroit auto show, JLR knew they had a potential winner on their hands. The concept car was drop-dead gorgeous -- a real head-turner. But how do you get a concept to production: quickly and without losing the essential flavor?
Telling The Story
Greg Gotts and his team here at EMC have joined up with Intel to create a new show "At The Intersection" that explores how different business models are being built for a digital world.
It's hosted by none other than Ken Jennings (@kenjennings) the all-time Jeopardy champion and a true legend in the world of geekdom.
The first episode is quite impressive -- especially the sequences using their virtual simulations and digital cave to "fly through" their models. Especially if you're a car nut like me.
At a broader level, you get a strong sense that JLR made a decision to do things differently, and it shows.
Although there were plenty of examples of where JLR could see cost savings vs. previous approaches, that doesn't seem to the the real motivation: they wanted to re-invent every aspect of how the built and sold cars.
How they understand market requirements. How they design their product. How they manufacture their products. How they sell and market their products.
Every aspect of their business model has apparently made the leap into a digital world. The physical aspects are almost an afterthought.
The Digital Powerplant
Behind the curtain, there's a healthy HPC (high performance computing) environment, powered by Intel and EMC Isilon.
There are great stories from them about how performance and data requirements took order-of-magnitude leaps -- in a big hurry -- as JLR started to use the new tools to build and design the Evoque.
The IT team didn't have the luxury of predictable forecasts and long windows to provision new resources. A classical waterfall sequential approach would have meant that the Evoque couldn't have reached the market as quickly as it did.
The new normal is becoming familiar: sudden waves of unpredictable demand for resources that just can't wait. The JLR team knew this going in, and put all the competitive products through the wringer before selecting Isilon.
As they put it, "nothing else even came close".
More To The Story
Not all the footage made it to the finished video, though. One particularly moving sequence for me involved the IT leadership team, talking about how their role had fundamentally changed through this journey.
In the previous model, IT's job was to simply support the engineering team. They'd request something, and the IT guys would go figure out how to get it done -- the quintessential "order takers".
But in this new model, a much closer working relationship was demanded. IT wasn't simply aligned with the business; it now was an integral part of the team effort. You could see the pride and satisfaction on their faces as they realized that their efforts were now key to the company's overall success.
And that, I think, might be the best part of this story ...