Challenges of the digitalization strategy implementation, the experience of GKN – Mexico

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2020)


Automotive industry, cybersecurity, digitalization, industry 4.0, new job profile., Strategy


Nowadays we are living in a new techno-economical paradigm denominated as Industry 4.0, Fourth Industrial Revolution or Digitalization Era. This paradigm is transforming not only the industrial and labor world, but also other areas, such as, education, health and daily life. With respect to its influence in the industrial area, this paradigm has been adopted by the MNEs to increase quality, to reduce costs, to generate innovation, it means to be more competitive. One of the challenges for companies is to digitize their processes in order to increase their efficiency and respond to their clients (Markoff & Seifert, 2018).

We can affirm that this new paradigm is in its gestation stage, but its effects are having a strong impact on the definition of corporate strategies carried out in many industries. One of the industry most affected by these changes is the automotive industry. We can say that this industry is in nowadays reinventing itself.

The purpose of this contribution is to analyze the so-called strategy “Industry 4.0” carried out by the global company GKN Driveline and to identify the main challenges that this firm has been faced and the way that these have been solved. The implementation of the strategy started in 2016, and the goal is to reconvert, to 2024, the company into a “smart firm”.

To do this analysis we carried out a field research in their plants located in the municipalities of Celaya and Villagran (Guanajuato, Mexico). A qualitative research was carried out, the information presented was gathered via in-depth interviews with key actors (blue collar workers, middle and upper managers) during the period from 2017 to the beginning of 2020.

The two main identified challenges that the company is facing were: a) implementation requires a strong infrastructure in information and communication technologies, specifically, cybersecurity is essential to avoid vulnerability in systems and possible loss of information; b) the second challenge is the necessity for a new job profile that takes into account hard, soft and metacognitive skills. On the one hand, we can say that there is no engineer 4.0 in the labor market. And the second important point to keep in mind is that current and older workers need to be retrained to obtain these new required skills.

This research form part of the project “Industry 4.0, value global chain and new business models: 3 cases studies of the automotive industry in Guanajuato” supported by UNAM-PAPIIT Program.


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