Later this week I’ll be attending the World Business Forum (WBF) in New York. The WBF is always a great event because it features some of the smartest people on the planet speaking about real issues faced by their organizations. It is a forum that challenges conventional thinking and always inspires ideas and innovation.
I’m particularly looking forward to hearing JB Straubel of Tesla speaking at the WBF. Straubel is a co-founder of Tesla and is the present Chief Technology Officer, overseeing all aspects of research and development and product design. Given how many different ways that Tesla is changing the automobile industry that’s a big job. I can think of at least 5 ways that Straubel and his co-founder Elon Musk are changing their entire industry:
- Electric is now cool; who would have imagined that electric vehicles could be desirable? Tesla has achieved this with cars that look great, perform well, and have a lower impact on the environment than gas-consuming vehicles. A few years ago, electric cars were low performing and only the most environmentally conscious consumer would have considered one as an option.
- Battery design; Tesla has often been described as a battery research company that uses batteries in cars. They are pushing innovation in batteries faster than we have ever seen in history. The rest of the industry is now trying to catch up, but as we have seen in other industries, it has been an outlier leading a new innovative area of the market.
- Retail Omnichannel; who needs a traditional dealer network when customers are happy to order online? Tesla has created an entirely new way of purchasing cars by focusing on the online experience with a blend of showrooms in key locations (usually with only a single car) that enhance the online experience.
- Focus on the future; Tesla builds cars that can be updated automatically over the Internet, just like your smartphone. The old idea of cars that never get upgraded seems archaic compared to a Tesla. They are also building in features like self-driving options that generally cannot be used very much as yet – but really they are just planning for the future. The company is also thinking ahead to a time when car sharing might replace the need for car ownership inside cities. Thinking ahead and building a future-proof product is at the heart of what they are offering.
- Customer-centricity is everything; much of the above adds up to a product and service that is designed around the customer. Look at the way that the product itself can be easily updated, help and advice can be easily accessed, and the retail model has been designed in a completely different way. From R&D to retail, they are rethinking the auto industry with customers at the center of their business.
I’m hoping to hear about this focus on innovation and the expectations of the customer when Straubel speaks in New York later this week. If you are planning to be at the event or you would like to comment on the points I have raised here then please leave a comment or get in touch via LinkedIn.