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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Nokia’s platform burns. Auto sector wonders what smells funny.

If this isn’t the corporate mea culpa of 2011, I don’t know what is:

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.

Nokia, our platform is burning.

This choice little paragraph comes from an internal email reportedly sent to Nokia employees by CEO Stephan Elop. There’s much more in the full catastrophe (read it here) but he speaks with remarkable honesty of the crap storm that faces companies that lack the will, the leadership or simply the inspiration to transition to new ways of developing products or, more fundamentally, doing business.

At Sense Worldwide we’re lucky that our clients have already realised that they need to change. Inspired change is, after all, what we specialise in. But having heard countless auto industry execs, either first hand at the Detroit motor show or through coverage of their presentations at CES, talk about how they can’t match the pace of development evident in the tech sector, I wonder how long it is before car companies have their Nokia moment.
It’s only a personal perspective but when the auto industry says that they can’t match the tech sector’s pace of development, they’re probably saying “We don’t want to, because we’ve been doing things real well for a hundred years and it’s too expensive to change”. I’m sure Nokia’s been saying that since the introduction of their first car phone in ’82. Now their platform is burning and it looks like a leap into the arms of Google or Microsoft is the only thing that’s going to save them.

Question is, who’s going to catch the automotive industry?

Hat tip to @joesimpson for his excellent coverage of the auto events at this years CES

(Image: Micky.! Licensed under Creative Commons)

Category: Design Strategy

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One Response

  1. Banksy says:

    Until there is an automotive equivalent to Google and Apple, nothing will burn but oil…

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