Automotive IBV report: Opening the garage door

By | 4 minute read | August 8, 2018

As customer expectations evolve, automotive leaders must offer more than just vehicles. By providing comprehensive digital in-vehicle services, automotive leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to interact more closely with customers. This in turn means they can better understand consumer demands, and offer requirements-driven services that engender customer loyalty.

In response to the changing automotive landscape, vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) are turning to digital services companies to help develop seamless, customized experiences in cars. Many automotive companies have attempted to embrace this digital approach, but with limited success. Hampered by internal processes and scaling difficulties, they must become more agile if they are to make the most of these opportunities.

The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) report ‘Opening the garage door’ explores how automotive leaders can innovate by combining start-up skills with traditional strengths. It proposes a hybrid platform and ecosystem – the ‘Garage Factory Model’ – to achieve both the start-up’s agility and the capacity of an enterprise approach.

Defining the ‘digital approach’

Digital mobility services are highly valuable to automotive companies and their customers. A digital platform that supports diverse in-car services can offer drivers convenient solutions for everyday challenges. Challenges like finding a parking space in a congested area, for example. Or navigating through an unfamiliar town, locating gas stations or even providing restaurant recommendations.

All these services are becoming the norm in consumers’ eyes. And because of this, automotive companies need to be go beyond providing the expected. They have an imperative to anticipate future needs too.

Furthermore, the beauty of in-car digital interactions is that it brings the customer closer to the manufacturer. The way a driver uses their digital services tells us a lot about their preferences and helps imagine other services that might offer even greater convenience.

If automotive companies are to stay ahead of the curve, they need the flexibility to quickly develop, manufacture and test new digital services. This agile, speedy approach is something that startup companies are really good at, by virtue of their relative youth and compactness. Unhampered by red tape, they are free to offer high levels of autonomy to developers, create prototypes quickly, and start testing.

The IBV paper theorizes that traditional automotive companies can learn from this agile approach, and successfully integrate it with a two-part solution: The Garage Factory Model.

The Garage Factory Model: a hybrid solution

The Garage Factory model is a two-phase approach that combines the start-up’s agility with the capacity of an enterprise approach.

The first, ‘Garage’ stage encompasses innovation, ideation, and MVP (minimal viable product) development. Here, concepts are translated into prototypes to explore viability.

The second, ‘Factory’ stage encompasses two-stage scaling, local adaptations, product hardening, rollout and continuous development.


Figure 1. Garage and factory: two phases in the development of digital products and services. Source: ‘Opening the garage door’ (IBV)


Prototypes that pass the MVP stage are subjected to a continuous cycle of testing with real users. Their feedback is a vital component within requirements management, ensuring products and services meet consumer needs. It also contributes to continuous product optimization, which in turn enables rapid decision-making and product turnaround. You can explore the value of requirements management to help streamline product development on our website.

To realize the benefits of this two-fold approach, automotive leaders need two things:

  1. A partner ecosystem
  2. A platform business model

A partner ecosystem encompasses a core team: product owner, digital strategists, designers and developers.

A platform business model provides the framework within which this ecosystem can operate. One that can handle project set-up, implementation, integration and quality assurance – and allow the team to collaborate on each of these elements.

Add to that microservices, cloud infrastructure and DevOps support, and you get a developer-focused approach that offers greater autonomy. As a result, teams can make product changes without over-reliance on external factors. And by keeping vital project information such as requirements, day-to-day progress and testing data in one place, teams can ensure quality expectations are met.

IBM Continuous Engineering and Collaborative Lifecycle Management solutions help you deliver smart, connected products with ease. You can get hands-on experience and explore our solutions by watching our ‘preview’ videos. Watch the brief ‘How previews work’ video below to get the idea, then head over to the website to try it out for yourself.

The best of both worlds: how IBM can help

IBM and Volkswagen have been putting the Garage Factory Model into practice, with a new digital mobility service called ‘We Experience.’ The service combines the services of Volkswagen’s digital platforms with IBM cognitive abilities and cloud microservices. Offering drivers welcome advice on everything from the location of the nearest gas station to local restaurants.

The Volkswagen-IBM team is an agile, interdisciplinary collaboration aimed at offering drivers the best digital automotive services. You can learn more about ‘We Experience’ on our Cloud Computing blog.

IBM has many solutions designed to help overcome the complexity of connecting requirements, design, development and deployment of digital products and services. Explore our product development solutionspreview the IBM Continuous Engineering and Collaborative Lifecycle Management solutions and explore the value of requirements management to find out more.