BMW Financial Services is hammering out partnership details with a few of the six startups that participated in its “CollaborationLab” program late last year, President and Chief Executive Ian Smith told Auto Finance News.
“We prioritized a couple of the partnerships, and those are in dialogue as we speak,” Smith said without specifying which had made the cut. “We’re excited about what that might mean and that will also be an indicator to what extent and how we proceed with initiatives going into the future.”
The fledgling companies — focused on blockchain, artificial intelligence, automation, and digital payments — worked with the captive for 10 weeks starting in October 2018. The idea behind the lab was to create an environment for BMW Financial to advance in an evolving market. “Rather than be disrupted, how do we disrupt ourselves to stay relevant?” Smith said.
Instead of investing in or acquiring new technologies, though, BMW Financial opted for a collaborative approach. “The CollaborationLab was not an investment play or a way to acquire technologies,” Smith said. “It was clearly about rethinking what we do and about partnering to create the capability.”
Collaboration must be a key element in the way the company moves forward, Smith added. “The complexity of the space and the breadth of the value chain is so vast that we can’t be great at everything. So rather than trying to develop our own solutions, we work with people, companies, and organizations that are experts and best qualified to drive that capability and partner with them.”
Ultimately, the goal is for the lab to become mutually beneficial for the captive and the startups. “How do we also help [the startups] become successful, and in turn, helping us share that success because they’re enabling our business to do things we couldn’t do before,” he said.
For now, BMW Financial plans to hold off on drafting a second round of potential partners. “What I don’t want to do, however, is to kick off another program without first having the learnings and enabling of the first one. We created lots of great ideas, but we need now to on the first ones,” Smith said. The companies in BMW’s CollaborationLab were Bloom, carLABS, Motion Auto Insurance, Omniscience, Supermoney, and Wrisk USA.
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