Competition winner: TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B

This case series won the Outstanding Case Writer Competition at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2020. #CaseAwards2020
 
The case

Corinne VigreuxWho – the protagonist

Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom, former head of TomTom's Consumer division, and currently head of TomTom's Group Strategy.

What?

TomTom is a Dutch software technology company. Although best known for its portable navigation device (PND), TomTom is now generating more than half of its revenues from location and navigation technology development, licensing and sales to automotive and hi-tech companies.

Why?

Constant disruption in hi-tech industries has forced TomTom to reinvent itself over and over again, initially through developing hardware and direct-to-consumer sales for its navigation software, then more recently, by refocusing on its expansive technology base to become a B2B navigation technologies market leader for automotive and hi-tech businesses.

Google's intrusion into TomTom's automotive space, through Google's recent win of a major automotive contract with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, is TomTom's newest challenge.

birdseyeWhen?

The case is set on 18 September 2018, the day when TomTom lost 25% of its share value following Google's announcement that they would be supplying Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's infotainment and navigation systems.

Where?

TomTom's global headquarters is in Amsterdam, but the company has offices in 35 countries and nearly 5000 employees.

Key quote

“The business is no longer only for consumers but mainly for B2B. The association of a consumer brand of the business is so strong that we also have to find new ways of talking to our customers and showcasing our technologies. It’s quite complex. How do you explain those technologies in the way that people can understand exactly what we do? That's probably the biggest challenge." – Corinne Vigreux, co-founder of TomTom.

Self driving carWhat next?

People love debating the future of mobility and the exciting changes taking place in the automotive industry. Which companies will emerge as the winners, or losers, in the transition to self-driving, electric vehicles? Both the traditional automotive manufacturers, as well as the largest tech firms, such as Google, Uber and Apple, are all positioning themselves for a stake in the new market.

Additionally, tech firms have repeatedly demonstrated that they can upend traditional industries faster than anyone ever thought possible. TomTom has cutting edge technologies in HD mapping, location, navigation, and traffic information, but its presence among automotive and tech giants poses huge challenges – and opportunities.

 
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TomTom: Mapping the Course from B2C to B2B
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Teaching note
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Background note
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The authors
author

Steven Sweldens, Stefano Puntoni, Niela Kleinsmith, Tao Yue and Matthieu Campion

Steven, Stefano, Niela, Tao and Matthieu discuss their delight at winning the competition and how industry-change makes for a compelling case.

Plenty of competition

They said: “We the authors, as well as the school, are delighted! Although this is not the first time that an RSM case has won a Case Centre award, it is the first time that we have won the Outstanding Case Writer competition – a category that has many excellent case writers from all over the world competing for it. We are highly honoured.”

Topical choiceTopical choice

Explaining why the case proved so popular with the competition judges the authors commented: “First of all, the case is topical. It is about tech and disruption and how smaller firms can compete with giants like Google – a challenge that faces almost all technology firms regardless of the industry they are in.

"Secondly, the case is about B2B marketing and branding. While the majority of economic activity lies in the B2B sector, most marketing cases are about selling to consumers (B2C). The case fills that gap.

"Thirdly, the case provides counter-intuitive takeaways and several ‘Aha’ moments, which are well captured and explained in the teaching note.”

Changing industry

Changing industry

The team added: “The case kept evolving until the very end. Changes are taking place quickly in this industry, which explains why the case is so exciting. But it also posed a challenge when writing for a case discussion which should be interesting for a couple of years to come. That created a tension that was sometimes hard to put in to words.”

Pulling in the same direction

The authors concluded: “This case shows it is crucially important to have a close collaboration between faculty, case writer and company. The idea for this case came from an EMBA student in-company project. The faculties recognised its value, and together with a case writer, the student developed the case.

“Moreover, to have a good case, you need to have more than just a cool story. You have to put in a lot of additional effort to produce supporting materials such as videos and slides. That’s the best way to engage students.”

About the authors

Steven Sweldens is Professor of Consumer Behavior and Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
e sweldens@rsm.nl

Stefano Puntoni is Professor of Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.
e spuntoni@rsm.nl

Niela Kleinsmith was a Senior Case Writer at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. when the case was written.
e kleinsmith_niela@hotmail.com

Tao Yue is Managing Editor at the Rotterdam School of Management Case Development Centre.
e tyue@rsm.nl
tw @yue_tao

Matthieu Campion is the former Head of Corporate Marketing Communications at TomTom. He is now General Manager – Electric Vehicle Business at Mitsubishi Motors Europe.
e matthieu_campion@hotmail.com

 
Additional material

The case is supported by a dedicated website, which hosts multimedia material and teaching presentation slides to compliment the case itself.

 

View all the 2020 winners