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The Drive for Talent in the Techno Automotive World

December 2016
Rich Kolpasky
Falco A. Nicklas
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Imagine stepping into your car, taking a nap, and arriving at your destination two hours later.

It sounds almost like “Beam me up Scotty”, a popular phrase from the Star Trek era suggesting that someone can transport themselves immediately from one location to another with almost no energy or effort. While to some this sounds futuristic, it is now reality. Driverless cars. Autonomous vehicles. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The technology is known by a variety of different terms, but the concept is the same: digital systems, not people, are driving vehicles.

This transformation in the automotive industry affects all facets of society. First, the obvious: cab drivers, riders, car salesmen, and individual consumers. But far beyond that we see insurance companies struggling to define new coverage plans, computer programmers making coding decisions that will affect human lives, government officials grappling with new regulatory frameworks, experts weighing in on risk and safety considerations, and even ethicists who advise on the decisions and impact these new technologies will have on society. Major companies are collaborating like never before.

Fiat Chrysler has partnered with Google. Google, Toyota, Microsoft, and Tata have invested in Uber. Ford and General Motors have invested in Lyft. Lyft has partnered with Didi, a China-based company heavily invested in by Apple that recently nudged Uber out of the region.

In June 2016, Bloomberg called this “The Merging Worlds of Technology and Cars”; today, just months later, this is no longer a matter of worlds merging; a new world has been created. Despite the relative newness of the topic, a significant amount of literature has already been written about driverless cars. This paper sheds light on the particular effects of how driverless cars are creating a war for talent in the tech and automotive industries. We offer Detroit and Silicon Valley as salient examples of this inter-industry battleground, but we also urge leaders to recognize this as a much more far-reaching phenomenon that is transforming these two industries across the globe.

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