top of page

Understanding SDV Organization and Strategies: A Q&A with Simon Halford

The growing number of technology-focused vehicles being developed by players across, and even beyond, the automotive industry has fueled an exciting transition that will impact not only the ways in which vehicles are developed, but how they are ultimately experienced by the end customer. The intended outcome of this transition is the Software Defined Vehicle (SDV) – one that will provide new opportunities to capitalize on various user experiences and accelerate technological innovation across multiple feature domains. This vision can only be made possible, however, if the automaker developing this kind of vehicle embeds the business measures needed to unlock its full potential.

Our new Software-Defined Vehicle: Organization & Strategies report explores these measures and how best they can be implemented as well as their connections to more traditional industry procedures. For this Insight, we interviewed Simon Halford – head author of the Software-Defined Vehicles: Organization & Strategies report – and took a deep dive into the motivations behind the report, the most interesting discoveries made during its production, and who will benefit the most from its findings.

Q&A with Simon Halford

SBD: As the SDV journey continues to progress, what is the most exciting advancement you have seen in the space so far?

SH: We’re starting to see businesses reveal solutions that have mixed criticality functions running on the same electronics and being updated over-the-air. This a crucial step in the journey to delivering Software Defined Vehicles. We’ve known for some time that this is important, and possible, though getting the business processes and cultures in place to not just safely implement decoupled software, but to also harness its full value is really exciting.

Q2: What did you set out to learn through the Software-Defined Vehicle: Organization and Strategies report?

SH: Great question! From experience, we knew that there is a big difference between getting the Electrical and Electronic Architecture in place for a journey to delivering an SDV and having a business strategy in place that is able to deliver the value. Volkswagen Group, for example, in my view has one of the most exciting EE Architectures in the world right now, but they are struggling to deliver its value. In this light, I was keen to understand what the best practice is for these less visible elements of delivery, and where the gaps are to actually deliver the benefits of Software Defined Vehicles.

Q3: What did you enjoy the most about producing the report?

SH: This is a topic that is already so broad and, at the same time, is becoming more and more relevant as we move further along the journey towards the SDV. As such, I felt it was important to collaborate and bring in some external perspectives to our analysis. I particularly enjoyed tackling these topics alongside experts who have a history with Tesla and Polestar. Jason Craker for example, shared the fascinating insight that:

"We see a positive recent trend from traditional OEM’s setting up innovation hubs, venture capitalist investment arms, and forming strong relationships with start-up incubators and accelerators programs, all with a desire to identify key, often technology-led, differentiators to help their brand stand out in the market-place. This trend is a real positive trend, however I do still query, where does the commercial business development capability and capacity sit to help drive these partnerships and relationships without these trying to be commoditized by global purchasing teams.”

Q4: What were the biggest surprises that you uncovered?

SH: We identified two key steps that need to be taken with each of the more discussed areas of activity to deliver an SDV:

The first was to clearly identify owners who are empowered. I had expected that the need for a clear ownership of some key aspects would be important, but I was surprised by how many elements don’t have empowered leadership. Whether that be large grey areas of ownership, ownership with a team who are unable to impact the business, or maybe through something as simple as not knowing who, within their organization, they need to partner with to make an impact.

The second concerned the skillsets that need to be in place to facilitate and deliver the benefits of the SDV. Here, I was surprised at just how big the gap can be with leadership teams whose skillsets are unfamiliar with the tensions and difficulties involved in delivering these benefits.

Q5: Who would benefit the most from the knowledge shared in the report?

SH: This report will be of interest not just to those who are empowered to set key cultural and organizational direction on the big topics it highlights, but also for the teams who are looking for an understanding and a language to help ensure that their teams are empowered to deliver the benefits of an SDV – rather than continually scratching the surface of its deeper, underlying, obstacles.


Through the insights provided by Simon over the course of this Q&A, it is clear to see how the SDV is already upending traditional industry procedures and just how impactful it will continue to be up to its arrival. It is, therefore, critical for businesses developing SDVs to have the upper hand on these changes – many of which are profiled and thoroughly analyzed in the full Software-Defined Vehicle: Organization & Strategies report.

One of four 2023 reports investigating the different layers and enablers of the SDV, it analyzes the different strategies being used to incorporate SDVs into new vehicle line-ups. It introduces the concept of a software-defined vehicle first, understanding its evolution to date alongside its core principles and enablers. The report then offers various case studies that together illustrate how key players are preparing for the advent of the SDV, before our experts take an analytical deep dive into the balance that can be struck between a variety of new and traditional industry processes to maximize both its potential and its benefits.

Want to learn more about the best business practices for integrating software-defined vehicles into future vehicle line-ups? Be sure to view the below report!

If you are interested in learning about our full range of Software-Defined Vehicle research reports, please contact us at


bottom of page