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Digital business models for the automotive and industrial sectors

Six emerging 'phenotypes' to drive growth and efficiency

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The 'smart data' gained from digitalisation, the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 offers tremendous opportunities to deliver business growth and streamline processes and tools – in turn, boosting efficiency. B2C companies still represent the yardstick on how to generate new revenue streams based on product use and customer insights. So how can manufacturing companies in a B2B context act fast, define the right initiatives and innovate to transform customer experience; design new smart products and services; and embrace the value chain to become more agile, interconnected, transparent and quicker?

But how can manufacturers maximise this value? To answer this question, we examined 202 initiatives from 118 companies that have recently launched in the automotive (63/32) and industrial (139/86) sectors in Europe.

There are six business model 'phenotypes' emerging

In the digital economy, there are three main dimensions – customer, product/service and value chain – which build the base for our business model framework to articulate digital trends and uncover industry-specific dynamics.

There are six emerging phenotypes (the recurring patterns that illustrate companies' digital strategies and organisations) that differentiate themselves by combining innovative approaches across the three dimensions.

Digital Efficienados represent the largest share of the phenotypes – but others will become more important in the future when creating and launching new products and services.

Digital Efficienados 50


Collaborative robots

  • Intelligent robots are used without a safety cage and communicate with line control and staff
  • Easy integration into the production flow and the robots can adapt to staff working speed
Platform Pushers 28

Bosch IoT Suite

Comprehensive IoT service platform

  • A platform that develops IoT services in business rules, processes, big data analytics and identity management
  • There is an additional app platform that shares service apps for connected applications
Data Analysers 18

General Electric's Predix

Cloud-based platform for industrial internet

  • In-house big data analytics around key industrial value drivers (platform-as-a-service)
  • The platform is open to external developers to create new applications (an app economy)
Smart Product Innovators 17


Cloud-based fleet management

  • A collection of customer fleet data, enabling remote management and control services (RMCS)
  • A digital customer dashboard for insights into asset utilisation and optimisation potential
Customer Centrics 15

Local motors

Co-created 3D printed car

  • The world's first 3D-printed car based on a co-creation design platform
  • A micro-factory concept in Berlin, with a prototype, was launched at the end of 2016
Virtual Developers 12

Koenigsegg Automotive

Virtual wind channel testing

  • Use of a cloud-based, high performance computing system
  • Infrastructure is shared through the Fortissimo project (hosting the cloud infrastructure and pooled IT knowledge)

A shift from product to customer-centric is imminent

The six phenotypes are split into two camps illustrating the digital strategy focus:

  • Business growth 
    Four phenotypes introduce smarter ways of turning 'data into dollar'. These are Platform Pushers, Data Analysers, Smart Product Innovators and Customer Centrics.
  • Digital efficiency 
    Two phenotypes convert technological advantage into productivity for customers. These are Digital Efficienados and Virtual Developers.

These phenotypes reveal various trends and dynamics for organisations that redefine the status quo:

  • Customer-specific offerings and new ways for partnering are playing an increasingly important role
  • Ecosystems and platforms are redefining traditional roles and processes along the value chain, while profit pools are dramatically changing
  • The focus on efficiency is here to stay – but it is not the single driver for lasting competitive advantage.

How to turn big ambitions for digital transformation into reality

At the start of your digital journey, ask yourself two questions: How can I establish the right digital capability? How can I control risk?

We have found forming new partnerships will have the biggest impact on your digital capabilities (technological knowledge, analytical/big data skills, digital mindset, flexibility and development speed). At the same time, it will also present previously unseen challenges, involving external platforms, smart start-ups or even customers.

It is also important you embrace digital transformation by using small, incremental springboards – what we call lighthouse projects. Smart and agile working styles will enable you to succeed while 'thinking big' but 'acting small'.

Contact us

To find out how your company can begin its journey towards digital business models, please contact us.

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Smart Supply Chain

George Marinos

George Marinos

Ruan Jones

Ruan Jones