Driving change – Business transformation from behind the wheel of the BMW i8

The BMW i8 is different.  It is a new take on the concept of sports car – one that allows you to have your cake and eat it.  It is a petrol – electric hybrid that with a tiny combustion engine in the back and an electric motor in the front.  The result is a car that outperforms many supercars and uses less petrol than a Mini.  But all of this is still missing the point with the i8.  The point is that it transforms how you think about cars.  You start thinking differently and even driving differently. By Hywel Glyn-Jones, CEO, OpenNetworks (Pty) Ltd

There is nothing more satisfying than running on electric only, driving to work powered by sunshine and then getting home from work and plugging your car in to charge. You feel good.

The environment in which we live is increasingly demanding changes in thinking.  It requires new ways of working, we are transforming to a digital culture.  When you drive the i8 you feel like you are sitting in that world, experiencing transformation on wheels.  It is fresh, dynamic, electric – a whole new experience.

The same transformations are happening within organisations.  We need to start thinking differently.  In this world competitors can come, Uber style, from places that we did not even know existed.

The Digital World

We live in a digital world where seven of Google’s top products have more than a billion users each. Search, Gmail, Maps, Android, Youtube, Chrome, Play.  Facebook and WhatsApp also have a billion users each.  Uber has done an estimated 2 billion customer rides and they don’t own any taxis.  We live in the billion user era.

A few things changed in the world to make all of this digital transformation possible.  Basically the Internet, mobile devices and Cloud.

A symbol of change

So back to the i8.  It is a symbol of change.  A message.  The electric motor represents cloud.  The petrol engine is the old world of servers and legacy thinking.  When you drive the i8 you are experiencing the culture of digital transformation.

The electric motor is definitively better than the petrol one in the back, just as surely as cloud computing is faster, more powerful and cheaper than the old servers.  While, for practical reasons, a hybrid solution is the current reality, the future is fully electric for the car and digital for business.

Electric cars built from the ground up, like the Tesla can be compared to the likes of Uber.  These are not existing companies that transformed, they were born digital and electric.  So even though we know the result is better, the reality remains that existing companies cannot simply start again instead they need to transition quickly to create digital culture.  Digital platforms + digital culture = digital company.

Sounds easy, but it takes courage.  So before you allow yourself to say it will never work in my company, spare a thought for the guy at BMW who walked into the M division and said, “I think we should build an electric sports car”.


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