A Kaleidoscope of Digitalization: Challenges and Prospects for Digitalization among Polish Automotive Suppliers

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Bordeaux (2024)


The automotive industry is at the forefront of embracing digitalization and Industry 4.0 innovations, evolving towards a model increasingly metaphorized as 'software on wheels.' The growing importance of software in this sector opens new prospects and challenges for its development. Our study aims to synthesize trends in the digitalization of the automotive industry within the context of an integrated semi-periphery economy, focusing on Poland. We explore how emerging technologies, particularly in the domains of electrification and smart mobility, are redefining the production landscape and the automotive value chain in Poland. The analysis is based on the authors' research from the last five years, including in-depth interviews with company representatives and automotive cluster managers, questionnaire surveys as well as a systematic review of industry reports and discussions from sector conferences.
In the current Polish landscape, there exists a multifaceted array of strategies and degrees of digital adoption - from fully automated departments close to the "lights out factory" concept, to companies hesitant to fully embrace Industry 4.0. Particularly interesting is the phenomenon of significant territorial differentiation in the degree of advancement and approach to digitalization, noted in studies of two automotive clusters. This can be interpreted through the concepts such as knowledge spillovers and network effects and local diffusion of innovations.
A critical issue is digitalization among suppliers with domestic capital, where barriers include limited financing and lack of awareness of the benefits of digitalization, access to skilled labour, and a limited offer for SMEs. Conversely, for larger enterprises, currently the paramount challenge revolves around the recruitment and retention of IT specialists within the automotive sector. Our presentation will not only shed light on these intricate dynamics but will also showcase strategic digitalization initiatives undertaken by select OEM and TIER 1 companies, providing valuable insights into their navigational strategies within the digital transformation landscape. Through this lens, our ambition is to not only highlight the current state of digitalization among Polish automotive suppliers but also project their potential trajectory in the global automotive landscape's ongoing shift towards electrification and smart mobility solutions.

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