TomTom: marketing as a connector

On June 30 he will tell you more about this during the online PIM event about Revenue Growth Management. From the market leader in home navigation systems, TomTom has emerged as a B2B player working with car manufacturers and tech companies to provide solutions for a world where driving is easier, cleaner and safer.

TomTom evolves from navigation system builder private individuals to B2B supplier for car companies and tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber

First an update for the unsuspecting consumer that TomTom mainly associates with boxes with maps. “Our focus has shifted to B2B in recent years,” George de Boer begins. ‘Those B2B customers are in both the automotive and other sectors, such as tech companies such as Microsoft and service platforms such as Uber. With 5,000 employees, mainly developers, we work on maps and software that make transport cleaner, safer and easier. The whole world is our playing field – after all, that is also the case for our customers. ‘

From navigation to self-driving car

The scope of the product has also changed. The core still consists of location technology; the combination of map making and navigation software, which is currently connected and provides additional information such as the traffic situation and the availability of parking spaces.

What will also play an increasingly important role is TomTom’s offer for vehicle automation. Carrying additional data in the maps and the software allows a car to drive more and more independently. Fairly basic driver assistance already requires a lot of information, such as the applicable speed limits. The next level is smart cruise control: is the road going up or down, how sharp is the bend that is coming? Going towards the self-driving car becomes even more extensive: every roadway, lamppost, every traffic sign, traffic lights – such elements must be available to the centimeter in the map data and be interpreted quickly.

We make maps, navigation software and intelligent HD map technology suitable for self-driving cars. These are still three disciplines that each make their own technical progress

Development based on need

What has not changed is that TomTom is still a highly innovative company that strongly focuses on R&D, according to De Boer. “We make maps, navigation software and intelligent HD map technology that is suitable for self-driving cars. These are still three disciplines that each make their own technical progress. The needs of the market make it necessary for us to combine these expertise in our product development. That is why it is extremely important that marketing and product development work closely together. Only then can we set the right priorities and maintain our lead. ”

In order to determine those correct priorities, it must be clearly clear what the need is. De Boer gives an example to illustrate this. ‘For example, we saw electric cars becoming more popular a few years ago. This means that there will also be a need for other information that car manufacturers want to include in the navigation system they offer. Our map developers can put charging points for electric cars in the maps, and we also want to include dynamic information about the availability of those charge points. This can then be combined with the car’s battery status, which you can display in the car’s navigation software, allowing the driver to make a very focused decision (or advise the system) when and where it is wise to charge. . We can only properly develop that kind of functionality if we know that there is a need, and if the developers develop the necessary components on all fronts. “

Marketing only works if you set up the company in such a way that what is technically possible is linked to that need, so that we develop the right things at the right time.

Marketing must connect

Marketing must play a connecting role in this, says De Boer. ‘We spend a lot of time outside and are always in touch with the market. Not only by asking consumers what they want; they often don’t know that yet. Precisely by looking further, by seeing the major movements in the market, by viewing the innovations at (online) events. But also, for example, because of legislation that changes: in the EU it is mandatory to make the maximum speed visible on the dashboard in new cars. Our products must be ready for that. It is not enough that we know or signal that. It only works if you set up the company in such a way that what is technically possible is linked to that need, so that we develop the right things at the right time. ”

At TomTom, this design starts in the boardroom, where a product board oversees the strategic choices regarding product development. Furthermore, Marketing consults with the product units twice a year to provide each other with the technical possibilities on the one hand and the market and customer developments on the other in order to achieve optimal prioritization together. “Marketing has a bridging function,” says de Boer. “I can only bridge if I can see both banks, so I also want to know what the developers are signaling.” The product management guides product development and keeps in touch with marketing about this. Every quarter, product managers and product marketers meet for two days to review the entire portfolio.

Interact with customers

The automotive sector, for which George de Boer is responsible, is changing rapidly. This also requires a new customer approach. TomTom would like to share its knowledge and experience by partnering with customers. De Boer: ‘The car market has traditionally had a long development cycle: from designing a car to driving on the road, it can only take two years. In addition, it was always the case that manufacturers themselves did a lot of engineering on the components that we supply – so that part also had a long development time. That is changing now. Because why would a car manufacturer invest tens of millions to build its own navigation system for each type of car? Then you are always behind the facts and it also costs a lot of money. So it goes without saying that we offer a current, universal solution that includes everything and that they can use for all brands. “

That takes some getting used to for the car marketers: the different brands must distinguish themselves in their implementation, including the included navigation system. “However, this does not have to be due to unique engineering,” says de Boer. ‘It is possible, for example, by emphasizing different options more for different target groups. We have so much experience with users of navigation systems, we can give very good advice on this. That kind of consultative selling is becoming increasingly important in our collaboration with customers. “

The world is changing

In an industry that is undergoing such major developments, looking forward is extremely important and the marketer must take his role in this, De Boer believes. “It’s about much more than cars,” he argues. ‘It is even about more than portfolio management. It is about a world in which we live more pleasantly. Where fewer accidents occur, where emissions decrease because we drive more efficiently, where we are less stuck in traffic. We can achieve this by working together: within TomTom and with our customers. Marketing is pre-eminently the connector who can achieve that. ‘

On June 30, George de Boer talks about TomTom’s portfolio management, how they keep in touch with the market, what consultations are held internally to set the right priorities and which choices this leads to. George de Boer is one of the speakers during the online session ‘Revenue Growth Management’ of Platform Innovation in Marketing (PIM) on June 30. Tijs Rotmans of The Pricing Company will give a session on pricing.


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