Talent Critical to ACES Mobility Productization

Article By : Umar Zakir Abdul Hamid

One of the most important measures when discussing talent recruitment for ACES mobility and related fields is not the size of the team but its composition.

In a previous article, I provided a glimpse of the future of sustainable mobility and its focal role in the formation of sustainable smart cities. The biggest challenge in achieving that future is productization of the technology innovations for autonomous, connected, electric and shared (ACES) vehicles, and a pivotal aspect of that challenge is talent management.

Diversity of talent

Identifying the right talent to join an organization, particularly for startups, is not a trivial matter. The fast-changing nature of the current industrial transformation means that organizations must take myriad external and internal forces into account when formulating their long-term strategic planning. The emerging technologies for ACES mobility are arising from diverse industries — ranging from traditional automotive to software and robotics — and therefore reflect a diverse slate of development and productization skills. Consequently, companies that have failed to implement an efficient cross-industry hiring strategy are struggling to bridge the knowledge gap and convert their innovations into marketable products.

Clearly, it is important to hire people who are up to the task of developing and managing products for the ACES mobility market. Further, however, because the talent hired today will shape tomorrow’s organization, employee retention is as critical as recruitment. The institutional knowledge of key development team members underpins this critical phase of the life cycle. If they leave the organization, the resultant disruption in the collective knowledge base can disrupt the focus of the entire team.

So, what are the potential talent-management pitfalls, and how can companies avoid them?

Ensure the required range of perspectives is in place for the transition to software-defined vehicles.

The concept of the software-defined vehicle (SDV) is central to achieving ACES mobility. The focus on SDVs anticipates an automotive future in which a vehicle’s value will predominantly be defined by the value — and potential microtransactions — that its software can offer. The traditional automotive industry is mechanical-engineering–centric, so realizing the SDV vision requires adding talent from the computer science and robotics fields to provide the needed insights and skills. But with the increase in vehicle automation, it is not sufficient just to bring in excellent programmers. Companies must take care to maintain an appropriate balance, integrating the expertise of the newcomers with the legacy automotive safety knowledge base and processes. This is a tough task but a necessary one.

Include integrative roles to balance safety, security and process.

The right equation is to build a team that can achieve the perfect balance between safety, security and quality — all while keeping pace with the industry’s tight and highly stressful product development timelines. This requires not only attracting the right engineers but also recognizing the value of integrative roles, such as product managers and product owners. Empathy and strong leadership are required here. The absence of influential integrative roles within the ACES productization environment can lead to silos and miscommunications that can prevent the organization from hitting its product timeline targets.

Set realistic goals and messaging for the business timeline, strategic focus and marketing.

As occurs in other industries, ACES mobility companies, particularly startups, are pressured to deliver a “promising pitch” to attract investors. But because ACES mobility is a new but ongoing direction for the automotive industry, it is not sufficient for companies to hire talented technical experts for product development. They must also hire business, product and strategy experts with suitable knowledge to communicate with relevant internal and external stakeholders. Even the marketing team should have at least a fundamental understanding of how the software-as-a-service (SaaS)-related business functions, in order to prevent misleading marketing messaging, especially with regard to safety-critical product features.

Challenges of talent recruitment and retention

One of the most important measures when discussing talent recruitment for ACES mobility and related fields is not the size of the team but its composition, to ensure that all the required competencies are in place. For example, a smaller company might be better off hiring a single product manager with strong technical and market understanding, rather than five product managers with little or no grasp of the software business.

The immaturity of the ACES mobility industry complicates this exercise because it can be difficult to identify people with the right profiles to meet job requirements that are still evolving. These circumstances call for the talents of an experienced recruiter. In other words, hiring emerging-technologies talent is itself a distinctive skillset.

Finally, it’s not just about hiring the right talent but about retaining them by providing adequate compensation, growth opportunities and the confidence to motivate them. These individuals are highly sought after, so failing to take care of them could delay a product development project or even result in its failure. Companies should acquaint themselves with the topics of personal skills development, empathetic leadership and moral injury management if they hope to prevent employee frustration and defections in this tough period of the Great Resignation.


This article was originally published on EE Times Europe.

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