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Seizing the High Ground in an Acquisition


Over two decades ago, a leading U.S.-based automotive manufacturer had just been bought by a European auto manufacturer. The seller had a Vice President of Information Technology, and the buyer had a Chief Information Officer. Our client was the VP of IT of the seller.

The Problem Statement

Our client had her sights set on becoming Chief Information Officer of the combined company. This aspiration required the VP of IT to establish eminence in the new world of many-to-many global communications (read “the Internet”). Eminence included foresight and a vision well beyond that of the buyer’s CIO.

What We Did

Working side-by-side with our client and her team, we held a series of design thinking workshops. To kick off the workshops, our joint team began with the experiences of automotive end users: drivers and passengers. Beginning with the user experience was a relatively new approach for the auto manufacturer which typically started the design process with sketching the outside sheet metal of a new model of an existing vehicle or a starting with a clean sheet of paper, but still focused on the look of the car. One way to look at the design thinking process in this case is working from the inside out rather than outside in.

In true design thinking, we opened up ideation with divergent thinking to generate concepts for changing the experience of drivers and passengers. The team then undertook convergent thinking to develop a vision of an Internet-enabled vehicle.

The main deliverable was a concept car emphasizing user experience with advanced and over-the-horizon technologies. This concept car gave all an early peek at what eventually would be called the “connected car” (about 20 years ahead of its time).

Key concepts emerging during the workshops were the notion of designing a vehicle by putting end user experiences first, the connected car vision, and the idea of developing a Vehicle Operating System to be the standard across all automotive manufacturers, suppliers, and aftermarket providers of goods and services.


Our client became Chief Information Officer of the combined company with her vision of the future of cars. Eventually elements of the Internet-enabled vision were implemented when technology caught up with the connected car concept.

© 2023, The Silicon Valley Laboratory, Inc. All rights reserved.


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