Keeping up with the accelerating pace of change: what we can learn from the advent of electric vehicles

Posted 10 June 2022
Dave Harwood, Head of Technical Delivery, Consulting & Solutions, AKKA & Modis

A few years ago, e-mobility was a strategic consideration for less than a quarter of companies in the automotive sector. Fast forward to today and electric vehicles are everywhere - from your neighbour’s driveway to your TV screens.

Figures show that UK electric car sales have risen dramatically over the past few years. In the first half of 2014, around 500 cars were registered per month; yet in February 2022 there were 15,094 new registrations in one month alone.

Few technologies have been this disruptive in such a truncated timeframe, which begs the question: what can we learn from this accelerated pace of change?

Here at AKKA & Modis, we are well-versed in the connected-vehicle space, working with the likes of Bentley and Aston Martin as well as autonomous software firms to navigate towards the next generation of smart automobiles.

Not what you might expect

Somewhat predictably, the first thing that comes to most business leader’s minds in relation to keeping up with technology is the level of investment needed. To put it simply, they want to know how much their budget will need to expand.

Yet, the advent of electric vehicles has demonstrated that the most significant obstacles to keeping pace with innovation are not necessarily related to cost. Instead, e-mobility has underlined that the success in adapting to accelerated innovation largely depends on the development of skills and partnerships.

Increasingly, software is taking precedence over hardware for companies looking to set themselves apart from the connected crowd. We can help to facilitate this, delivering superior experience, safety & efficiency to those undergoing massive disruption. We can be there from the very first stage of that journey, advising on how to install said software, launching in a test environment before venturing out onto the open road.

Attracting talent

Procurement and development of knowledge that will sustain the pace of change is crucial.

For example, leading commentators in e-mobility are warning that the rising number of electric vehicles on the UK’s roads could be hampered by a shortage in EV-certified motor technicians. The Institute of the Motor Industry reports that, of a total workforce of 238,000 motor technicians in the UK, only 15,500 are qualified to work on electric vehicles – that’s just 6.5 per cent of the UK’s total motor technician workforce.

Plainly, for businesses facing acceleration or disruption, talent attraction should be a priority. A scarcity of skills can, and will, obstruct the pace of change.

Worryingly, candidates with speciality skills in technology are increasingly hard to come by, exacerbated by the war for technology talent. Such a skills gap shows little sign of narrowing, with one in four firms in the UK looking overseas for tech talent.

That’s one of the reasons why we set up Modis Academy, providing an opportunity for our consultants to enhance their skillset to meet the demands of the industry. The customised approach to learning allows them to home in on specific areas of development, equipping them with invaluable expertise to take back to their organisation.

To stay ahead of the curve, companies must remain proactive in their approach to talent. Crucially, businesses should be cultivating leaders that drive and chase innovation, which in turn will ensure an engaged workforce.

Utilising translation tools

Some businesses are already making efforts to replace existing COBOL code with modern, easier to navigate languages. However, it is an extremely complex task and could take entire teams of engineers years to completely rebuild the core technology of a business.

Tools now exist that can translate COBOL code into languages like Java and Python, widening the talent pool for businesses to tap into. Nevertheless, with these translation tools, no testing takes place to ensure the effectiveness of the translation efforts and as such, risk adverse companies come up against a stumbling block.

Fostering partnerships

When technology develops at pace, its supporting infrastructure can lag behind.

This is, once again, evident with electric vehicles. The Competition and Markets Authority estimates at least 10 times more electric charging points will be needed by 2030 to meet demand.

Without easily accessible and readily available charging points, consumer demand for electric vehicles will plummet, hampering the momentum e-mobility is currently enjoying. Almost half (44%) of UK motorists are put off buying an electric vehicle due to the lack of local charging points.

Consequently, innovators need to ensure they have relationships with the complementary companies and sectors their technology might infiltrate.

Future gazing

You can’t prepare for something you don’t know is coming.

I’m sure we’ve all been in a meeting where someone says something along the lines of “not in my lifetime”. But these are exactly the boundaries you want to acknowledge and encourage your teams to push beyond.

The strategies and decisions made about innovations that develop at pace will guide the nature of the industry for years to come. Therefore, decision-makers must be adept at thinking critically and with agility. Leaders that keep up with the continuous state of flux will recognise that their business is operating in a world that will change as much in the next 20 years as it has in the previous 200.

It's not enough to simply cope with change and go with the flow; businesses need to start adapting and preparing for the next ground-breaking innovation, today.

That’s where we come in. We have the capabilities to work with you across projects from designing telematics systems to improving the manufacturing and supply chain to quality assurance and project management.

Find out more on how we can help, here.