The genius of Johannes Gutenberg‘s printing press was in its ability to radically increase the distribution of information. No longer were scribes required to hand transcribe documents, complete with errors. Information could now be quickly and flawlessly mass produced. It was a radical innovation in information distribution, and arguably the beginning of the information age.
We are now upon the leading edge of another distribution revolution. This time it is not only the distribution of information that is changing the face of the world, but also radical advances in the distribution of goods and services. The confluence of these forces will fundamentally transform the face of retail, automotive, transportation, and other adjacent industries in just a few short years.
Here’s how your day is potentially going to look in just a few short years:
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 7:05 a.m.
You wake and, since it is Wednesday, you get ready to go to the office. As a knowledge worker, most days you work from home utilizing work collaboration tools and 3D teleconferencing. Brushing your teeth you see that your autonomous vehicle has shown up on schedule out front.
“House, tell the car I am running 10 minutes late and I will be out shortly.”
“Ok, I will tell Chauffeur C332 that you will be out front at 7:15 a.m.,” the house confirms.
You leave your house and close the door, which locks automatically. Your house powers down, going dormant, now collecting more energy than it is using, via the solar power array on the roof.
You hop into an autonomous vehicle and it ferries you off to work, bypassing most traffic lights along the way. No driver, no payment, no problem; you have the shared service on retainer. Autonomous vehicles interacting with intelligent traffic systems create efficiencies that can carry twice the traffic and move twice as fast. No more traffic snarls as the entire network adapts to volume in real time. The last accident you remember was many years ago, between autonomous vehicle and a red Barchetta sports car driven by a human unwilling to give up the wheel.
While reading your personalized newspaper on the way to work, you decide you want to stop for coffee and indicate that to the “driver.” The autonomous vehicle drops you off and you pick up your double café non-fat latte with a pinch of cinnamon that is waiting for you. You are greeted by your favorite barista, who has been working there for as long as you can remember. You chitchat, and decide on impulse to buy a scone.
You remember that you need some household goods. You can still go to a physical location, although those are much smaller, fewer, and more specialized than they were a few years ago. Most of the ‘mega marts’ have been converted to distribution points where you can either pick up your goods or they will deliver to your home. You take a few minutes to order your groceries and household goods on your mobile device for delivery.
You have nearly unlimited choices. You can even choose your source; you prefer to buy local when possible. Everything is transparent. Your mobile device helpfully recommends what you might need based on your prior shopping habits, and works in concert with your home to monitor consumption habits. You haven’t had pork chops and applesauce in a while, how about that? Also, you are low on toilet paper. Click!
Your home has communicated to your device that it is need of a filter replacement for the HVAC system and 2 LED lights are in need of replacing in the foyer. Finding the replacement is automatic, all you do is press accept. You can put this on “auto replace” but you like to have some control about what your house orders for itself. You step out of the coffee shop and another autonomous vehicle is waiting. You step in and are whisked off to work.
Upon your return, your goods have been delivered to your doorstep via a complex network of autonomous transportation services that are piggybacked on the personal transportation network to maximize unused passenger capacity (all those empty trunks!). Your pork chops, apple sauce, toilet paper, home air filters, and LED lights are all at your door step delivered by truck, car, and, yes, drone. Upon entry with your groceries, you are greeted by your home that spooled up 30 minutes before your arrival knowing you were en-route. The oven is preheated and the kitchen lights are turned on in anticipation of preparing your dinner. You unwrap your organic free range pork chops from Gonzalez Farms down the road and fresh applesauce from Rohrbach’s Apple Orchard located in the next town over. Mmmmm…pork chops!
Don’t believe me?
Every facet of the near future I described is either available today or will be here shortly. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Autonomous vehicles are in operation today in both commercial and passenger capacities with Google self-driving cars having driven 1.7 million miles, with 11 accidents—all caused by other humans. Tesla already has “auto pilot mode” in its Model S. The first self-driving truck hit the American road on May 6 of this year. IHS Global predicts that there will be 54 million self-driving cars in use by 2035.
You can already summon vehicles via Uber or Lyft. Why have humans do a job that machines can do cheaper and more effectively? In fact, Google has had to detune their software to drive less flawlessly due to human drivers smashing into them.
The Smart Home is here starting with the introduction of the smart thermostat Nest. However, things have gotten more interesting than just controlling the temperature of your house. How about—well—everything in it? SmartThings and others are making it happen—today.
Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg stated he wants to build a “personalized newspaper for everyone in the world,” recently.
Sharing forms of transportation from bicycles to vehicles has gained greater acceptance, particularly among Millennials, who readily embrace the sharing economy.
Solar panel installation continues to grow with a 70% year-over-year growth from 2014, enough to power 4.6 million homes with the majority of power generation from residential installations.
The Tesla Powerwall can enable homes to take advantage of both solar power generation and also locally buying and storing power at non-peak times.
Apple has announced that it will begin manufacturing vehicles by 2019. Surely the iCar will be hooked into iCloud, iPhone, and perhaps the iHouse?
In addition to Amazon, eBay, and Google are now in the same-day delivery business, as well as investigating autonomous vehicles. They have helpfully started to wire up communities with super-fast networks (1000Mbps) with Google Fiber, that will help these vehicles and e-commerce hum.
While there are multiple ride sharing companies, Uber is using predictive analytics to maximize pick-up and drop-off locations to decrease driving inefficiency.
Real-time traffic systems are already in place that can be utilized to optimize traffic in driverless systems. The U.S. government has been investing heavily in this area and the “Connected Vehicle.”
Starbucks already has mobile order and pay, which is accessible from their app.
Amazon, eBay, and Google already have same day delivery for hard goods. Retail giant Walmart is experimenting with same-day grocery pick up. Amazon and Google are testing grocery delivery (remember Webvan?)
Predictive shopping lists are currently in development that can predict your needs based on past purchases. Walmart is hard at work on this task with its Savings Catcher app, that helps inform customers what they might need.
Drone technology is at our doorstep…literally. Amazon has introduced Amazon Prime Air. Google’s “Project Wing” is introducing a service in 2016 which can deliver stuff in 30 minutes or less. DHL has moved forward in launching their Parcelcopter service in limited localities.
Based on research conducted by MaritzCX, there is a strong bias among younger population to buy unique and local. This is corroborated by observations from the press.
If you are in industry that has nothing to do with logistics, automotive, financial services, retailing, manufacturing, agricultural, energy production, new home construction, infrastructure, mass transportation, shipping, supply chain, robotics, software, data storage, hardware, analytics, marketing, consulting, telecommunications, or the government, then sit back and relax. Not much will change for you in the next few years.
Otherwise, you may want to do more than start thinking about these things. You need to get involved. You can brace for the change or try to get in and do something about it. There is always opportunity in disruption. What does all this mean for you?