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Roddy Graham's blog: 27 March 2014 - Are you ready for the future?

Date: 27 March 2014

Roddy Graham is commercial director of Leasedrive and chairman of the ICFM

At a customer conference last month organised by Ceridian, one of the UK's leading HCM technology andservice providers, Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist, spoke about the future of technology - specifically key trends to look out for this year.

What emerged is that consumers are driving technology - just contrast phones today compared to nearly ten years ago. This patently has an impact on vehicle manufacturers in terms of vehicle development and optional equipment offered, and on the fleet industry too.

The three key trends he identified were: mobile, cloud and social.

In 2013, smartphone installed base technology overtook PCs, laptops and notebooks combined. The lessons for organisations are clear - think of mobile as the first way. Many employees bring and rely on their own mobile devices.

Organisations need to develop their own apps for their employees and customers, and recognise that since it is consumers driving technology, this will challenge not only the way we work but also the traditional central IT hub model.

Another threat to traditional IT is the cloud. Web-based technology has matured and is now accepted as the way forward. However, while security concerns are now falling, complexity issues are rising.

Social is the third key trend. We are all familiar with Facebook and Linked-In but enterprise social network has yet to take-off. Nor is it properly integrated.

What research has shown is that by sharing knowledge and best practice through enterprise social networks, employee potential can be increased by 20 to 25%.

No wonder we heard a lot about mobile technology at last year's ICFM conference.

For example, Mike Bell, global connected car director at Jaguar Land Rover, told members and guests that every Jaguar is to be fitted with a SIM card relaying telematics on everything to do with the car from the obvious to the not so obvious.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

So how does all the above impact the automotive industry, and fleet sector in particular?

Tom Standage picked out three examples of long-terms benefits from current technological development - the drop in the cost per genome, digital 3D printing and self-driving cars.

In terms of motorway mileage, lane keeping, autonomous cruise control and automatic braking already tick many boxes.

These three key equipment features mean autonomous driving is already well on the way - it's just the small matter of navigating in urban areas!

However, vehicle manufacturers are already making encouraging noises about the first mass produced autonomous vehicle (AV) being available by 2020.

While the transformation will be gradual, AVs will improve traffic flow, lower congestion, increase road safety, upend the insurance industry and transform logistics. A

Vs can be programmed to follow each other closer, maximising available road space, and travel faster in safety.

Cars can also be self-parked, parked closer together and programmed to drop-off and pick-up passengers.

In Europe, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and VW are all trialling AVs so the future is closer than we may think.

The biggest challenge for AVs will be to prove their ability to cope with dense urban driving environments and reliability under all road traffic conditions.

Then there is the prickly subject of major amendments to current legislation before AVs go into mass production.

It may be that some of us will baulk at the thought of stepping into an AV over which we have apparent no control, but we cannot stop progress and AVs represent a major technological step change.

It took the education system a century to adapt to the results of the industrial revolution. This time around, the education system has two decades to adapt and nobody has yet started planning for the required changes.

So how will AVs impact fleet management and who will manage them - robotic systems or people?

Make no mistake, the future of technology will see massive change not only in automotive design but in employment. Are you ready for it?



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