IT investment required to implement
strategic priorities

While many in the global automotive
components industry would agree as to the nature of the business challenges they face,
there is less agreement as to how those challenges are translated into IT priority areas.

Fig.19 – Most important area where
new IT investment is a priority

So, for example, while R&D is seen as
an IT investment area by only 9% of global suppliers, 25% of those in Germany do so (Fig.

This question forced respondents to rank
the following areas, and the overall order is shown below:

1. Manufacturing
2. Logistics
3. Customer Service
4. R&D
5. Finance
6. Management Information
7. Sales and Marketing
8. Human Resources Spain

Not only does manufacturing rate as the most important IT investment area at
the global level, it is also the most important in the UK, Spain, France, Italy, and the
USA. Clearly, suppliers consider that part of the response to the competitive pressures
they are under entails more sophisticated production operations. Manufacturing is
furthermore the IT investment priority area for first, second and third Tier suppliers.
The major exception is Germany, where only 10% of suppliers rate this as a priority (Fig.
20). Perhaps a partial explanation is the already well-advanced state of much of their
manufacturing IT systems. Moreover, as is shown in Fig.21, German suppliers see their
absolute priority in IT investments for R&D. Manufacturing received the highest
proportion of top ranked positions from UK suppliers. Over one third of these respondents
placed manufacturing at the top of the list. This need to invest may be a result of the
traditional British reluctance to invest in manufacturing.

Fig.20 – Most important are of IT
investment – Manufacturing

Customer Service and Research
& Development
Overall, customer service is seen as one of the priority areas for
investment in IT. However, it was not ranked top by any French respondents, whereas over
one fifth of Spanish, Italian and UK suppliers cited customer service as the most
important area. It appears that in France automotive suppliers are concentrating their new
IT investment in Manufacturing and Logistics. It is difficult to explain the varied
responses to this question, but it may reflect differing interpretations of the term.

Fig.21 – Most important are of IT
investment – R&D

Not surprisingly, the German suppliers
favor R&D as a priority area for IT investment. R&D and Sales & Marketing are
both ranked first by twice as many German respondents than any other country.

The level of importance placed upon new IT
investment in R&D in Spain is low due to the predominance of satellite plants of
German firms with limited in-house R&D (Fig. 21). The same may be said of the UK,
where the last decade has seen its industry grow by making, for example, Japanese vehicles
developed outside of the UK.