• Phil Callaghan

"Things Will Never Happen Slowly Again"

Says WIRED UK Editor David Rowan at the 2019 FreightWaves Transparency tech conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

On his journey around the world (which you can read about in his new book "Non-Bullshit Innovation"), David Rowan sought new technological initiatives and innovative designs from people and companies who are predicated not on making a few dollars, but on changing the world.

In so doing, Rowan was able to perceive trends that he predicts will be landmarks of the future...

1. Smart A.I. (as opposed to dumb)

Currently, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in its current form is nothing more than a buzz word. Of course it generates thoughts of immeasurable potential and intrigue, but at present the A.I. revolution has not arrived... yet.

Rowan believes that the number one factor that could potentially determine the future of humanity is A.I. With companies like Amazon with its AmazonGo product and even fast food behemoth McDonalds investing $300million into A.I., there are those who see the limitless potential and are putting their money where there mouth is.

The key to the future according Rowan is data and analysis; something humans have been doing since the beginning.

We've been collecting data for millennium.
Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

As we look to the stars to help guide us, or collect data from the weather patterns to know when to sow and when to reap, humans have been collecting data for millennium.

However, the future of humanity will inevitably depend upon the analytical power of A.I. to take things forward in an increasingly fast paced society.

The Here and Now:

In terms of your industry set yourself some short term goals whilst Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are gaining momentum. Find software that will analyse your data and explore ways automated software can help you advance your business. Look for companies that use machine learning (Amazon's Redshift technology) for example.

2. Data Rich

As stated above, along with A.I., Rowan believes that the future is data rich. He used an example of a business in China that gather information on what people are buying in their grocery stores. This then allows them to know exactly when to restock or where they are low in other stores across the region. It enables them as well to see trends and predict products that are wanted in the future.

Further examples of this included the extraordinary software that is Orbital Insights. Rowan explained that Orbital Insights was able to use satellites to see the amount of cars in car park and therefore predict business activity at various points during the year.

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

The future is in the hands of those who can not only obtain real-time data but translate that data into practical developments.

The Here and Now:

There are loads of programs that can match your budget and help take your business to the next level. Microsoft PowerBI is Excel on steroids, taking your data and helping you to visualise and use it accordingly. If you're in the transport game, you have loads of data available at your fingertips from fuel consumption to best routes to take for certain loads. The trick is to take that data and input it into a service that allows you to visualize it and use it to further your business.

3. Autonomous

Unlike A.I., this word is becoming less and less of a buzz word as governments transform legislation across the globe to enable autonomous vehicles.

Rowan not only mentioned autonomous vehicles, but also acknowledged that in his travels he understood the power of automating services to free up the humans to do what humans do best; create.

The autonomous workflow is the future.

He also mentioned companies like Starsky Robotics that are bringing driverless trucks to market in the USA, check out their story below.

Peter Fox from Linfox in an interview for NAT Roads sponsor ATN magazine declares,

"We [Linfox] believe in automation," he attests, "but I certainly don't see in the next decade a driverless truck on the road."

Peter attests that most of the hurdles driverless technology faces in Australia is to do with a slow uptake of regulation, something Rowan states is common across the globe.

Fox continues to expound upon the point that Rowan makes that automation isn't exclusive to the road, and can also be of benefit to warehouse operations and the like.

The Here and Now:

Electric trucks are paving the way for autonomous technologies, however to see them transform the industry we would still need to wait for a period of time. For now, keep your eye on the technology and see what can benefit your business.

4. Integrated

Rowan believes that in the future, product and the service will become absolutely integrated. That is, seamless and transparent communication between software and hardware that will dissolve supply chain inefficiencies.

An example of this is the "Internet Of All Things", that is, that every piece of hardware (the brake lights on the car in front of you, your car blinkers communicating with the cars around you for example), are communicating to one another. In the future this would have endless applications for everyday life!

The Here and Now:

There is already software and smart applications that can help you connect the world around you with each other. In terms of your business and industry, finding ways to integrate everything will benefit you greatly as you can make wiser business decisions.

For example in America, LinkeDrive have a suite of incredible software (PedalCoach especially is great!) applications that connects everything from fuel consumption to driving behaviour so that owners can have a more integrated understanding of their fleet drivers.

5. Blockchain

Another buzz word of the future however with substantial momentum, Blockchain is a brand new way to communicate (protocol) that will be the framework upon which the aforementioned integration will take place. It's still a buzz word because people are still trying to realise what blockchain can be. Billions of dollars is being invested in its development, and Rowan says to watch this space!

There are organisations like BiTA (Bitcoin in Transport Alliance) that seek to adopt Blockchain infrastructure as a way of moving the transport industry forward.

All in all, the future is bright and there are many, many opportunities to take a hold of it! Reminder you can find Rowan's latest work "Non-Bullshit Innovation" anywhere they sell books. There's innovation for the hell of it, and there's innovation for the betterment of society, watching and being aware of such innovation can be the difference between closing the doors to your business or revolutionizing it for the future.

Credit: FreightWaves Transparency19 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia USA. #loadshift

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