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Deloitte and BlackBerry: Addressing Automaker Challenges as Cars Merge Into Consumer Electronics

Some people think that calling cars with elaborate infotainment and digital cockpits “iPads on wheels” is an insult. But there’s a reason why the Consumer Electronic Show® (CES) has become one of the most important shows for the automotive industry. Computer-powered media, information, and control systems are increasingly the focus of innovation and development for new vehicles. This goes beyond a shift in technology — it can also entail major changes in supply chains, financing of purchases, and even the introduction of Generative AI into development processes.

Welcome to Season 3, Episode 3 of “Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry." This series explores the possibilities created by — and technologies behind — the revolution in global transportation we are witnessing today. In this third episode of Season 3, we talk to Walid Negm, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of Product Engineering Services at Deloitte, about how they are helping automotive manufacturers smooth their transition to building software-defined vehicles (SDVs) — and why one of the world’s biggest consulting firms is partnering with BlackBerry to make it happen. “BlackBerry QNX is deeply embedded in the automotive sector and has been since it started supporting infotainment systems, which was one of the first places where advanced compute and electronics showed up in cars,” Negm says.

Deloitte has been developing systems engineering and processes to build on BlackBerry’s early-adopter advantage in automotive electronics and digital control systems. Some initial results were on display at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. “We put together what a collaborative workflow on an open toolchain could look like. It's been great working with BlackBerry QNX on this.”

Click to watch Season 3, Episode 3, (below):

Driving Into the Future: The Rise of Software-Defined Vehicles

“Today, cars are more like consumer electronics than ever before,” explains Negm. “Deloitte is leaning into the software-defined vehicle trend. It's still about transportation and mobility. The vehicle takes you from point A to point B, but it's becoming more of an experience.”

That digitally enhanced experience begins even before you start the car. “You get into the car, there's the in-cabin experience. It's vastly different than it was just a few years ago. The younger generation that is more digitally native appreciates a digital cockpit. They're not going back to an analog experience.”

This trend has led to new expectations from vehicle ownership. “It's partly just the natural progression of things, and partly because what we are expecting at home, we're expecting in the vehicle as well,” says Negm. “Software is now a part of the vehicle and it's going to become more versatile, safer, and friendlier for the driver, the passenger — and the city itself — when vehicles can talk to each other and the infrastructure around them.” 

A Holistic View of the Mobility Marketplace

As this software-defined vehicle transformation accelerates, Negm says Deloitte offers vast resources and expertise to help its automotive clientele solve complex problems and achieve remarkable results. “Deloitte is one of the largest consulting companies in the world by revenue. It's over 175 years old. It's seen the entire evolution of the automotive industry.

“The auto industry is a very different kind of animal now,” continues Negm. “Deloitte comes at things from a multidisciplinary perspective.” For example, its unique outlook on electrification of vehicles, and the trend’s many downstream impacts. “We're not just going to talk about the digital experience, the drivetrain, and the engineering of the vehicle. We're able to talk about regulatory regimes in different geographies, tax credits, and how vehicles get financed. We can take the journey with an OEM or a Tier One or Two supplier.” For example, “If you have problems with new product development, we can help when you're challenged with supply chain management and how parts need to be sourced in a different way.”

Today’s industry and consumer landscape requires a holistic view of tackling problems. “It can be culture, it can be organization, it can be a lot of things that transcend the technology going into cars.” Negm explains. “We're acknowledging the digital lifestyle changes, and that includes how you buy a car. What hasn't changed a lot so far is leasing. But there are other ways to finance a vehicle. The digital lifestyle means a new way of servicing the vehicle, purchasing the vehicle, software being uploaded or downloaded into the vehicle.”

From Steel to Software

Cost is a particular burden for incumbent automakers making the transition to EVs and SDVs. “Manufacturers that have been around a while have a lot of cost challenges,” says Negm. “It takes a lot of money to make the transition from combustion engines to electrification, and now software-defined vehicles. The ecosystem is changing around how you make a car, going from steel to software.”

This also has implications for the workforce. “You need a different talent pool,” confirms Negm. “It's not just mechanics and electricals. There is a ton of hardware for sure — it's still a physical product — but there's a lot of software engineering as well, so there's a talent challenge.” This is another area where Deloitte can leverage its relationship with BlackBerry, whose BlackBerry QNX solution provides a solid, trusted foundation upon which new software engineers can work more easily.

“The car needs an operating system,” says Negm. “That operating system must be able to take care of multiple subsystems in the vehicle, whether it is infotainment, autonomous driving, or the powertrain. QNX is a reliable operating system for vehicles. It's a safety-certified, high-performance, real-time OS.

“The more SDK (software developer kit) tools there are, and the more facilities you provide developers, the more innovation and value they can bring to the driving, passenger, and in-cabin experience.” Training and upskilling in this area will be fundamental to ride the wave of development successfully, according to Negm.

Looking toward CES 2025, Negm sees a continuation of the increasing importance of cloud technology that was already evident in the 2024 event. “We've seen some interesting tech this year around taking software that traditionally had run at the edge, and was highly configured for a device, now being able to run in the cloud,” he says. This means it can become a high-fidelity replica of what is in the vehicle — sometimes called a “digital twin.” Negm adds that this will increasingly change the way vehicles are designed, as software engineers realize they no longer require physical hardware samples to develop or test new capabilities, thanks to highly virtualized development environments like QNX® Accelerate.

“Generative AI is also going to clean up the development process,” adds Negm. “There are a lot of inefficiencies. It's not just about generating code automatically, but generating documentation and test cases, and understanding which test suites are priorities. Generative AI is going to increase productivity dramatically, cut out a lot of waste, and then leave the problem-solving to people.”

For more insights from Deloitte executives about the future of SDVs, listen to Season 3, Episode 3 of “Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast From BlackBerry.”

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Bruce Sussman

About Bruce Sussman

Bruce Sussman is Senior Managing Editor at BlackBerry.